Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sex: Abandoning the Field


I'm not sure, but I may be playing around with Pandora's box and we all know what happens when someone lifts the lid. Pandemonium breaks loose. Did you know, by the way, that John Milton coined the term in 1667? Pandemonium is the capital of Hell in his epic poem, Paradise Lost. I didn't know that either. Anyway, at the risk of paying a visit, I'm thinking about sex.

It came to mind while recording The West Wing this morning. Actually, it wasn't the program that got me going, but a commercial for a product intended to make the "big moment" feel like an ocean cruise liner blowing its horn. The physiology alone boggles the mind. Now, it's not that I don't think this is a humorous commercial, because I do. It's also a rather creative use of slang and metaphor.

Then there's the one about the guy who couldn't get a date if it was arranged, having at last become a ladies man because of male enhancement. There are also serious commercials promoting treatments for ED. Tongue in cheek, it's enough to make you feel sorry for anyone named Edward. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to freedom of information nor am I being prudish or moralistic.

Advertising being what it is and people being who they are, sex sells. What concerns me is, wherever we're going with all of this, we're don't seem to be doing so with conscious intentionality. The proverbial frog, when dropped into a pot of boiling water promptly, and sensibly, leaps out. Placed in a similar pot of cool water while the heat is turned up, he's dinner before he notices the water is boiling.

What I mean is, when we talk about our children developing ideas about sex that reflect respect for persons, we ought not abandon the field to Puritanism at one extreme, or wholesale sexuality at the other. If education can be the silver bullet, as West Wing's Jed Bartlett is fond of saying, then adults ought to begin with themselves. Is there a reasonable limit to the degree we wish to have sex portrayed on screen and if so, what is it? How would we prefer to have sex displayed and in what contexts? Can we arrive at a consensus? If we want Madison Avenue to make these decisions for us, it will be more than happy to do so. Somehow, I just don't think that's what most of us have in mind.


(Creative Commons image of Queen Mary Smoke Stack by biofriendly via Flickr)


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