There seems to be a general opinion that if a story, be it film or something else, has explicit sex then it’s automatically slated as porn and the value of the whole thing just hits rock bottom. Nevertheless, we have loads of classic stories filled with explicit sex within them and the antique and nobody seems to regard them as anything negative. If classic stories can have erotica, why not the modern stories?
Modern society overall is overly saturated with bare skin and sex appeal. Contrary to the popular misconception, sex doesn’t always sell and yet it’s pretty much everywhere. There’s been a huge backslash from various sides how advertising uses female appeal. Then again, it uses male appeal just as much, so I’m not going to drag out any feminist arguments here (mostly because they’re just stupid.) Next to advertising we see sexual material in various other places and they’re not seen as any worse. I don’t remember anyone complaining about Titanic’s sex scene, and I regarded it as something completely unnecessary.I mean, did we really need to see the breasts painted and getting not-so-implied-sex there? Hint; we didn’t.
Most of you know think I’m a damn hypocrite to criticise Titanic’s erotica while keeping such a high regard on âge’s body of works. In a way, I completely admit that there’s some of that, but hear me out. The question whether or not including erotica has a place in a story is not a light one. If the story wants to be slightly realistic with 20-something characters, there’s bound to be sex. Rather than just thinking They’re having sex, I’d like my readers to regard whether or not it works in the context and how the overall work is presented, and what the medium is. Sex scenes can and should have more important context than just being plain porn if they are meant to add to the story.
There are people with different taste and point of view on the subject. I completely understand the point that sex needs to be kept as something unique and within certain small limits. Then again, sex is something that we all are familiar with even from our childhood and allowing it to be a defining matter in anything shouldn’t be allowed as much as it is. I don’t wish to say that sexuality scares some people, but that seems to be the case. How sexuality is handled within a body of work is very important because of this, and at the moment we have to weight every erotic scene on their own with the rest of the other elements within a story.
I admit that this is an extremely challenging subject overall. I may come off as someone who advocates open sex and bare skin everywhere, or I might come out as someone who would like to limit everything to minimum. I wish to do neither, but rise a question if a sex scene, erotical or not, has a place in a story. A well done scene can benefit a story quite well, whereas a scene with no real function other than sex itself works against the work. In worst case, such scene can make the work what we see as just porn.
I personally knew few people who really hate my approach to nudity and erotic material in itself, such as my mother, and deem that if there’s a certain amount of act in there, then everything’s ruined altogether. These people can’t seem to enjoy the story knowing that there’s an erotic scene tied to the overall plot, and plays an important role in it. I’ve wondered why these people are so uncomfortable with the presence of sex, but throwing theories out there isn’t going to do anything good if I can’t put out anything solid. I’m sure part of this can be traced to personal preferences, but also to overall cultural values and how each person has been raised.
Porn itself wasn’t always just the act itself like it seems to be nowadays. Pornographic films used to be a genre that had a story. No, I don’t mean the classical pizza guy and hot woman with no cash, but an actual story. Sexploitation films do have a load of gems that tell a complete story that also ties the sex scenes well to the film. They don’t just feel likeseparate scenes, but an actual part of the story. Nowadays the industry has become more and more mechanized, in more ways than one, and simple sex act films have become the most common. Josh Hadley has excellent episodes of his radio shows going over this subject with actors from the industry, and he has written multiple articles about porn films. I do recommend tracking them down if you have even the slightest of interest, as the porn industry has seen few massive changes over the years and misconceptions are abundant in the modern world.
Still, every medium has its sexual content, graphical or not. Harlequin novels are the worst of the bunch (even I read few and they really are bad) whereas few classical pieces show sex with the respect it needs. Films are divided between direct porn acts and well handled scenes within sexploitation, and music has more songs about losing virginity than I can even start to think of. Comics have both soft and hardcore content, as well as loads of implied scenes. Games usually follow the same line as films, but the likes of Mass Effect do not bring anything to the table with their romance and sex. It just bogs the whole thing. Personally I loved a TV-show called The Hunger back in the 90’s, which had rather horrifying stories tied to erotica. Most of the were pretty well made stories overall, and have some rather good horror elements in there. Not just physical like splatter movies, but rather there aresome that will disturb you mentally. In some episodes there’s a strong hints of Heavy Metal influences as well.
(Sorry, we’re gonna go with some Muv-Luv again so hold on to your butts.)
The overall medium of visual novels is nothing short of pornographic, which is kind of a sad thing when you can have completely unique audiovisual experience in lieu of something like mixing theatre and literature. The medium has potential but it’s bogged down by its fame. In that, having erotica in Muv-Luv is not a question of “if” but rather what kind of. To be honest, the erotica in Muv-Luv is rather tasty (par one) and works in the context. Sumika is a childhood friend of our main character Takeru, and the two basically have spent their life together as it is. They used to batch together, play together, sleep together and all that children do. At least I used to do these things when I was a wee lad with girls… kinda explains things in some perspective. Sumika hasn’t really taken any action towards Takeru at any point due to everybody basically agreeing that he is her man and that’s that. When a new threat steps in, and takes over Takeru’s daily life by first appearing in his bed and buying the whole neighborhood and starting to basically live with him, Sumika needs to step her game. She does, which culminates in a hot spring visit, where Sumika steps in Takeru’s bath and offers to wash his back. This is her attempt to make Takeru see her as a woman rather than just a girl from his childhood.
A lot of people call this a slutty move and the same people most likely never met a woman with high hopes and feelings, but no real way to express them. Presenting yourself as a woman, and wishing the other side to see how far you’re willing to go just for him to notice you as something to be desired of in both physical and emotional level might be the last option you have. Naturally, you could always just say I really love you would you like to go out with me, but that’s just not romantic at all. I’ve personally had few of these, and every time it’s just as awkward, but heartwarming at the same time. Yes, I’m a horrible man for not returning their feelings but I have a personal conviction of not shoving it in unless there’s love involved.
As the story progresses a bit further, it comes clear that our main man has his own feelings towards Sumika, but doesn’t really know how to handle them. Ultimately, he comes forth with his feelings that really were there, just underneath the daily banter the two always have. It’s an emotional scene overall, which ends up the two sharing a bed. It’s something that Sumika quite clearly has thought of many times and something she has wished for. How the scene has been handled is good and has a lot of emotional weight in it. It’s true that it is partially there because it’s expected from a VN to include explicit erotica, but is handled with dignity and care like such a situation should be. Nothing is too overt, everything’s rather to the ground and it’s actually more heartwarming than arousing. You can see in that one scene that the writers put a lot of care in not to break the characters’ characteristics, and they still have some of that slight banter in there. It’s a rather cathartic scene overall, showing both of them being completely true to themselves, and to each other. It’s erotica for sure, but it’s a far cry from porn, as the scene isn’t really what you would masturbate at. I’m sure there are a lot of people who grabbed their hoses and wiggled it around, but isn’t that a bit demeaning to the scene?
Later on in the story there are two other scenes. other showing rather graphic content how one can be violated, and it has its place. Without it the story wouldn’t work as well. The scene that follows has even more importance in human sense. I won’t spoil them, unless somebody demands to know what BETA research does to people.
I went a little off from the point I was trying to say there; it matters how erotica is handled in the context. In Muv-Luv it works as it’s a cathartic moment both to the characters and to the reader. It also matters how it’s handled, and in Muv-Luv Sumika’s route is handled with care. Other routes are a bit different, but we’re not goingto talk about those now. All-Ages versions of the story fade out before the act itself and return right after. While you don’t really lose anything regarding the story you do lose something regarding the characters and the overall weight of the story. Without the erotica, the story would have less weight overall.
The reason why I’m so keen on talking about that one scene in Titanic is not because I personally like the film. To me it’s just another in the bunch, but I always loved its sets and cinematography. It’s a beautiful piece with rather good characters and acting, and the overall film works very well in romanticizing the period while still keeping that good amount of grit in there to balance things. There are only three points that degrade from the overall experience, which I’ve already mentioned, but here they are; the length, the sex scene and the propeller guy. Length is an issue with the director and the editor and can’t really be helped, but the propeller scene is just out of place from the overall serious and realistic piece. It’s something that Looney Tunes would do. In this regard the sex scene should work, it’s realistic after all and should give more romance to the overall story, but the rest of the film in comparison is clinic in this sense. It’s a shift in paradigm how to the film works and what it’s doing. Now, if it would actually make a sort of genre shift into softcore porn, then it would actually serve a purpose, but it’s just a scene of no content. We learn nothing of these characters or anything else within this scene. A scene without purpose is a scene that should be cut away.
Would Titanic have less weight without the one sex scene? I’d argue no. While it is a story of two characters falling in love and then one of them dying, Titanic itself doesn’t really care about them. There are numerous other people we meet on that boat and numerous other people who share the same fate. I’d remove the man hitting one of the fan blades. That was just tasteless. With or without the sex scene the film has the same weight. I’d cut it out simply to keep the film shorter, its way too long as it is.
Let’s take the classic James Bond films as an example. We know that Bond is a stud, we know that he is a man who knows his ways throughout women’s bodies. His scenes of seduction are rather well made, usually having a nice sensual scene, and the cutting away to Bond waking up or putting his watch on. It works in the context of the film, and the genre, as Bond is a womanizer. When he decides to get a woman, he gets a woman, even if it means to kill a few communists while doing his seduction.
Getting laid is an integral part of classic Bond. Craig’s Bond is a bit more down to earth, but still manages to seduce a woman or two per film. It’s somewhat downplayed and has more velvet kind of quality to them, which works just fine. Having the seduction and well implied sex is highly important to a Bond film, because seduction of the fairer sex is part of the whole Bond deal.
If I had the possibility, I’d buy a softcore porn film called Dinosaur Island on LaserDisc. The coverart of the film is pretty awesome, as it has both Attack of the 50ft. Woman and especially the One Million Years B.C., which happens to be one of my favourite films.
If anyone has a clean version of this, please let me know. I’d love to get this as a poster
Dinosaur Island has very little to offer as a cerebral film or as something to masturbate as. It’s a simple film of few US soldiers landing on an island with an amazon tribe. Well, the island has dinosaurs as well, but you might’ve figured it out at this point. The content in Dinosaur Island is by all means pornographic and meant as such.However, these scenes do contrast the attitudes the amazons and the soldiers have, and some of the soldiers’ own personalities shine through while they are having sex. The movie, withthe little value it has, would be nothing without these scenes. They give weight, not meaning, to the overall body of work. They have a reason to exist within the film. The dinosaur effects look pretty decent for an ultra-low budget softcore flick from 1994. I really don’t recommend anyone seeing it, unless they’re hardcore softcore fans and love the coverart. Whoever posed for that picture had some… talent.
I do understand that showcasing a sex scene in a film is difficult, especially if the director wants to aim for a tasteful scene and not mechanical porn. Well, a sex scene, no matter how tasteful it is, is still pornographic in its nature. Going too far will make somebody gasp atsuch obscenities, and show too little and somebody will ask What was the point of it. Making good porn is hard on its own, and making tasteful porn that really isn’t porn is even more difficult. Whymake a sex scene to have no real content other than shadowy act if it doesn’t add anything? Well, people tend to get somewhat uncomfortable about sex, at least the general public. People get embarrassed and shy when two people are having sex. Truth to be told, looking at two people having sex is not the most beautiful sight in the world, and porn rarely looks like the real thing (unless you’re into amateur voyeur.) It’s a global paradigm to regard these tasteful sex scenes as acceptable, and most of the time I just ask why. Rarely I see a film with a sex scene where the actors make it look convincing, and the directors puts meaning in there either with small conversation or what the characters are doing. Just seeing outlines and shadows humping each other and doing the same generic motions every other sex scene does is just… bleh. It’s not tasteful, it’s a waste of time and money. Then how are you supposed to make a sex scene that shows the actual act, adds character development or/and shows sides from the character we never knew before?
Truth to be told, such scene can’t be really made without the audience accepting the pornographic content as something that important and that they shouldn’t hold it against the film but for it. Literature has harder time with this, as describing the scene might end up being just another Harlequin piece without really going anywhere. Comics and Visual Novels have the possibility to use text and visuals for their advantage, and VNs even have sound. Simple sound based erotica is rather hard, as it demands a lot of describing, and depending on the use, a lot of talents from the voice actors’ side.
It seems that everybody accepts that if you need to have a sex scene, it must be kind of separate scene and completely unique. Meaning that it shouldn’t really have much meaning outside A) getting main female lead pregnant B) showing that the main characters love each other C) both. The most graphical sex scenes are usually saved for the likes of rape and other violent sex to further show how bad man the guy is. Very, very rarely the rapist is woman in films.
We can’t really talk about porn without addressing the industry. Porn industry has its problems, and then some more problems, but I’m not an expert on the industry’s problems. There’s loads of good documents about the subject, like After Porn Ends. However, I also recommend checking out Pornography – The Secret History of Civilisation, as it goes through porn since ancient times to modern times. Josh Hadley’s Lost in the Static is STILL a nice place to hear about porn and the industry in certain episodes.
I’m sure someone is thinking at some point But think of the children!and I hear you.
How much sex should we allow to be shown in works that also have child audience? Depends really what you regard to be the red line between a child and a teenager, and even then whether or not you regard teenagers as children. American Pie is a film that just seeps sex all over the place, and is still R-12 film just like Titanic. I’ve got nothing against American Pie, but personally I regard is one of the biggest piece trash ever filmed. However, the “sex” scenes in there actually do contribute to the overall story and characters, and I have to give this to American Pie; to extend it does understand the sexually confused young people and uses it to convey a proper overall story.
Sexuality and children is a touchy subject and I’ve got a bit too little experience to completely dwell into the subject. I can only talk from my own observations and about my personal history. I agree that childhood seems to end earlier with each new generation, and this saddens me. However, I strongly disagree that it’s the environment that causes this. No amount of sexual material can “end” a childhood. It’s the parents that demand their children to be little adults that they are not. In the city I’ve seen six years old girls in a slutty outfits because their mom thinks its “cute.” Then again I’ve seen eight year old drinking beer and smoking, so it doesn’t just stop there. Proper parenting is the alpha and the omega what kind of childhood someone has. The aforementioned two examples are cases of failed parenting.
Allowing the child to recognize that sexuality and sex exists doesn’t push them to the world of adults. Pretty much every 8-year old already knows of flowers and bees on some level and regard it as some matter to laugh at, until puberty hits. The most important thing is to allow sexuality and sex to be acknowledged and give it proper weight. I don’t mean hammering the child with lectures about sex and how important it is. Most of the time it’s enough to tell Little Ben that mom and dad do have sex sometimes, and it’s important. Being direct and frank when Little Ben asks things is important as well. Little Ben then can snicker at it and laugh at it with his friends, until one day he realizes the deeper meaning of the thing he already knew. I’m not saying that we should force sexuality on our kids, but to allow them to recognise that it exists on their own terms, and grow knowing that it exists. They’ll know what it means when the time hits them, but then they’ll be a bit more prepared.
My personal start with sexuality was somewhere around when I was four. My brothers had found a porn magazine and had hid it in their hideout in the woods, and showed it to me. I distinctly remember three images that have burned to my retinas for all time, but at the time it was just something to look at. That was the time when I acknowledged that this was something that people did and enjoyed quite a lot. I had very little knowledge on human biology, so I didn’t care what was really going on. Some years later I realized how babies are made through The Bold and the Beautiful. Before that point I didn’t have any sort of lessons on sex and sexuality, it was just simple deduction; sex makes babies. This has allowed me to value sex as an act and as something to bring people closer together, and my early contact with hardcore pornography hasn’t really impacted me negatively. I’d argue that my approach to such thing was due to great parenting, as my mother never really kept these things secret or anything. Can’t say anything about my dad, he never was there when I needed, and kept butting in when I never wanted him there.
It’s cultural as well as individual how this is seen. The silhouette sex scenes serve their weak purpose in films, but perhaps when we can all accept the weight of sex itself, and allow ourselves to enjoy it as just as important part of the story as any scene, then perhaps we have been able to shatter a wall between something what we think, and what’s completely natural.
Perhaps it’s not really a question of if there should be erotica in anything or not. Erotica can give more weight if handled well enough, and I truly do believe that porn has its merits in a story. Discussing of what and what is not art is an eternal subject with no conclusion, but rejecting erotical material’s merits could be compared to rejecting Picasso’s. That’s a bit overblown comparison for sure, but the point still stands.
Oh dear did I go off the subject few times there…
Now you might wonder what the hell is eromanticism. Well, it’s a combination of erotic and romance; eromance. I might come out somewhat perverted at times, but be assured dear reader; it’s all in the name of love and romance.