Needless Sex in Film and TV

January 08, 2009 Tagged with: entertainment, society

My pastor just posted a movie recommendation to his Facebook profile about the documentary “Man on Wire.”

In his review, he included this:

PARENT NOTE: There is one unnecessary minute of playful nudity between a man and woman in a hotel room after he successfully crosses from one tower to another. Totally caught us off guard. While not a prude, it served no purpose.

I can relate to this. I’m not a prude either. Sex, violence – I’ve seen it, and it doesn’t really phase me. Indeed, I recognize that it’s sometimes a valid plot device. But by including it, filmmakers can make their movie or TV show inappropriate for some segments of their potential audience. Unless it’s done because it relates to or furthers the plot, this has a tendency to annoy me.

On a prior version of this site, I posted about a TV movie called “The Librarian: Quest for the Spear” with Noah Wylie. I had just watched it on primetime TV with my (then) 10-year-old when I wrote this:

[...] towards the end, there was a scene that annoyed me. Flynn Carson (Noah Wylie) and his good-looking companion Nicole (Sonya Walger), had been through a harrowing adventure. Wylie’s character is in a hotel room when champagne arrives via room service. His protests that he didn’t order it are silenced when Nicole appears at the door to the bathroom in a silky nightgown. Cut to the morning, and Flynn wakes up in bed wearing nothing but a sheet.

[...] This really bothers me. TNT ruined a nice family movie with this scene, and for what? Nothing. It added exactly zero to the plot.

I got frustrated for this same reason with “Jerry McGuire,” of all films. The movie was a wonderful story, and it’s one that I would have loved to watch with my mother. She was a single Mom, just like Renee Zellweger’s character, and I think should would have really enjoyed it...oh, except for the part with Kelly Preston yelling “Never stop f*cking me!!” while Tom Cruise does just that.

That scene stuck out for me. Why include it? What benefit does it serve? Did it alter the characterization at all? Not that I could tell. If there was some story value to be gleaned from it, could it be injected some other way, perhaps? By including that scene, they made sure I couldn’t watch the film with my mother, which sucks.

I’m not saying that you can never have nudity in a film, but just make sure it has some relevant purpose to the plot. Don’t just toss it in for giggles.


cmadler says:

I find that “Christianity Today” has excellent movie reviews that are often good at picking out gratuitous versus truly necessary sex, violence, swearing, etc. I don’t agree with that publication on much of anything, but I’ve found their movie reviews to consistently be among the best anywhere.

cmadler says:

Also, I should have mentioned, their reviews are online, and have great discussion questions that can raise the intellectual discourse regarding even the lowest of low-brow movies.

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