Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Sanitized Sex

As a media scholar I'm constantly thinking about how much more fun television would be if things were depicted realistically.

Take sex for instance. Everything on TV and in the movies is so artificial and sanitized. As a learning exercise I have students in my Media & the Body seminar list the scripts they've observed in the media regarding various components of "the date." A script may be thought of as a series of behaviors that show up again and again in cultural outlets such as mass media. I've been doing this exercise for years and every class comes up with the following:

Man picks up woman in nice car.
Woman makes man wait downstairs while she primps.
Man brings flowers.
Man pays for dinner and movie.
Alcohol is involved. Preferably wine.
The first kiss occurs on the front porch.
If he's lucky it's followed by an invitation inside.
The woman "slips into something more comfortable."
Stereo on, lights low.
Depending on the rating of the movie, the next scenes may or may not be cut.
The next morning they wake up and stare blissfully into each others' eyes.
Playful banter is followed by breakfast.
"I'll call you."

When I ask my students how much of this reflects their own experience, they roll their eyes and laugh. Depending on the group, I might even get some details.

I once had a seminar of spring-fevered seniors at the University of Michigan. When we got to the sex part of the script they got into a heated argument over whether actual intercourse would take place, or merely oral sex, which wasn't really sex. (Clinton was still president.) They agreed more or less that the conservative route would be oral sex. A few minutes later we were talking about how unrealistic the lovey-dovey next-morning scene is. The woman's makeup is unsmeared, nobody is puffy, no one has eye crusties. Above all, I remarked, the first thing they do is kiss! What about the morning breath from last night's dinner and copious alcohol consumption? "Yeah," said one student, "and the ORAL SEX!" GAAAAHHH!

It took us a good five minutes to recover from that one.

I won't be happy until I see the real stuff romantic relationships are made of. Not just the new, superficial relationships ("Your eyes are so beautiful...") but the tried-and-true ones. I want to see someone on TV subject his sweetie to a Dutch oven. I want to see a couple speaking to each other "through" their dog. I want to see depictions of people who fall in love first, THEN have sex -- like When Harry Met Sally and The Sure Thing -- not the other way around. I want to see same-sex couples trying to adopt a child. I want to see depictions of REAL intimacy, friendship, playfulness, and love.

Is that too much to ask? Maybe so, but... I'll wait for it.


Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...


I think you have hit on something important here. Basically, reality is too difficult for most of us to handle. The purported 'reality T.V.' is not about what is real at all, but how people WOULD LIKE their lives to be if they could script them out. In many ways, reality T.V. has replaced the romance novel in this concept of what would be ideal if we could script out something to happen for ourselves.

The reality of poverty, homelessness, unhappy marriages,raising children,broken relationships is not what people really want to hear about.

Great subject, by the way!

10:45 AM, June 02, 2005  
Blogger mreenymo said...

Hold on! Isn't that why they call it a story?? Of course it's not going to be real, folks! The movies/TV are a fantasy.

And let's be honest: Do you really want to see a realistic depiction of couples dating and "getting it on"? The awkwardness, the fumbling, the (gasp!)morning funkiness?

Okay, so I'm being a bit tongue and cheek, but frankly, I don't. I've gotten enough of that in real-life, thank you very much.

And by the way, it's very interesting that we are discussing this topic of fantasy in the virtual world of the internet. :):)

Instead of looking to the media for "real life" depictions of love, sex and friendship, maybe we need to get off the computer, turn off the television, and spend real time focusing on those very same things with eachother.

10:57 AM, June 02, 2005  
Blogger AngelaCh1 said...

It isn't reality, but we (as in the media-consuming American public) sure love it. How else can you explain the box-office success of Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts movies?

And I do think it's possible to have sex first, THEN fall in love. Just ask Geoff. ;)

BTW, I made that roasted red pepper dip you posted about a while back (you have no idea how hard it was to find a jar of roasted red peppers!!) Now I have this giant tub of it sitting in my fridge, and I have no idea what to do with it besides folding it into omelettes. HELP! :-O


11:58 AM, June 02, 2005  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

A, do you ever make homemade hummus? It's great stirred into that. It's also good brushed on grilled stuff (but don't let it burn). I like it best as a dip with veggies. Having it around makes me eat my veggies. :-)

2:00 PM, June 02, 2005  
Blogger Jonniker said...

Hrm. Okay, I don't want to see real sex, but I like seeing real relationships in their awkward glory. One of my favorite movies for romance is Garden State - not because it's romantic in ANY sort of traditional sense, but because I felt like I was just hanging out with them. They did dumb stuff, said dumb stuff, and Zach Braff is a really bad kisser, I'm sure of it.

I felt like I was THERE instead of watching some lame Hollywood rendition of romance. But was there morning breath? No. Eegads, thank goodness.

PS, I want the red pepper dip.

8:54 PM, June 02, 2005  

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