The Modern Guide to How Much Sex Is Too Much Sex

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Why you should care

Because how they use our eyes and how we use our privates might be a public health issue.

This week: Is Society Oversexualized? Or Not Sexual Enough? Let us know by email or in the comments below.

The car pulls up and turns into a three-quarter shot. It’s a muscle car. Or a luxury automobile. The shot tightens up on the now opening door, and a high-heeled foot extends from the driver’s side. Rising from the heel, up past the car door, 100 percent of us totally expect it to resolve itself where it does: someone, usually a woman, looking smokily into the mid-distance. So begins every single movie you’ve ever seen that needed to get across in a non-narrative way the premise of SEXY.

And it sucks. It sucks soooooo bad. Not because it’s sexy — it’s not — but because we’ve been focus-grouped and target-marketed to the point of someone in Hollywood putting millions behind this. Not because they don’t think we’ll like it, but precisely because we do. Or seem to. So, is society oversexualized? Or not sexual enough?

“My favorite one was that Angelina Jolie movie with Johnny Depp,” says film reviewer Judge Roy Bean about 2010’s spy potboiler The Tourist. “Two male characters spend like 10 minutes of film time telling us how hot she is. Was this necessary? And what does it say if it is necessary?”

[O]ur natural and biological interest in sex is being mined and turned against us for the lowest common denominator.

Much more than its necessity, the question asked of this movie, like any other theatrical presentation, was basic: Was she sexy? Jolie seemed out of sorts in the film and was anything but sexy-feeling, according to tabloid reports about her at the time. Yet this question was demanded of her, and we partially demanded it.

And the movie itself? Though nominated for three Golden Globes, The Tourist was treated unkindly by the critics. How did we vote? To the tune of a $278.3 million box office take on a budget of $100 million.

Six years later, in 2016, porn aggregator PornHub racked up 64 million daily viewers for a yearly pull of about 23 billion visits. So it’s neither the chicken, nor the egg. Made more clearly than ever, it’s our natural and biological interest in sex being mined and turned against us for the lowest common denominator.

So the issue is less about whether we are oversexualized — we are — or not sexual enough. (Who knows what’s “enough”?) The real question is: Will we ever be able to have an honest public conversation about our sexual doings that’s more than surface deep?

“People like to talk a good game,” says porn star Mr. Marcus, who has appeared in more than 1,800 films and was patient zero in an adult film industry syphilis scare, “and criticize what I do for a living and how many people I’ve slept with and all. But when no one’s looking, they’re trying to pull me into bathrooms and all kinds of scandalous shit.”

So if honesty is the best policy, who’s going to go first?

So, what do you think? Is society oversexualized, or not sexual enough? Let us know via email or in the comments below.


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