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Last post Author Topic: Sex Doesn't Sell  (Read 10130 times)

Paul Keith

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Re: Sex Doesn't Sell
« Reply #25 on: January 05, 2010, 01:23 AM »
This approach has been mentioned a couple of times, but surely implying things are happening is defeating the point of the medium. I mean you could fade out the action scenes, the emotional scenes, the establishing shots? Where do you stop? The medium is there to tell and portray a story, otherwise we could all just read the synopsis.

I have to disagree. In terms of limited time visual medium like movies, implication is one of it's prime quality.

In fact, it is a common argument by some classic horror movie fans that some of the scariest films are those that show an invisible horror that leaves itself to the viewer's imagination.

The line is drawn where the director and the producers want it to.

This may even explain why many movies based on factual events are distorted even if the original events would have made for a better movie. Instead of fade to black, think of any other transition directors use to transition to another scene to make a poorer plot seem better through visual editing.

Some notable examples are Nolan's reverse clues in Memento and Prestige, Documentary films like the Blair Witch Project, Shaky cams in Cloverfield, even such things like the quick flash of Eli's pubes caused many viewers to switch perspectives and assume an underage female was shown naked in the film "Let The Right One In" instead of the plot of the novel where it was meant to imply a castrated boy. (note that this is a minor spoiler plot-wise though it may seem like a major one)

I'm not for fade to black either and I think it is a cop-out excuse but it is one of the tools a director has of telling the story of the movie and it's not really censorship unless there was an intent of censorship. (No different from the Japanese cultural idea that if you show a censored vagina/penis, it is somehow less sexualized and more okay to show the actual act. The effect is intended to censor but often times it is just something in-grained in the cultural expectations of what's right or wrong to show.)

I just glanced through some of these responses so forgive me if this point has already been made.

I am an American so I will only comment on American culture. Once upon a time we lived in a gentler, more innocent environment when it came to the movies (I'll restrict my remarks to movies as that seems to be what most people in the thread are focusing on). There was sex & sex scenes, but there is today. Some guy at a movie studio got the bright idea that if he threw in something more explicit than what was norm for the time his movie would cause a splash & see increased ticket sales.

He was right...bam! Sex sells. Ticket sales shoot up and money is made by everybody involved with the movie. Of course, this doesn't go unnoticed by the other movie guys & they each take steps to go farther to out-do the last guy with the sexual aspect of their movies & bring in the money.

That worked great...until now. Even though current movie makers dance the line between what keeps a movie Rated R and what would make it Rated X we've reached a plateau as a culture. We've seen it all. There are no new tricks. There are no more plot twists to wow us with. It's all old hat & culturally we've become very jaded movie watchers.

One only needs to view the 1972 Marlon Brando/Maria Schneider movie 'Last Tango In Paris' to see my point painfully illustrated. Upon its release it was Rated X & caused quite a scandalous stir as to how outrageous it was. Viewing it today it's quite frankly ho-hum & could be classified as a 'mild' R-rated movie by today's standards.

Sex sold & it sold well, but it's become a commodity item and one cannot demand a premium price on something that is over-stocked in abundance everywhere.

I disagree. If anything modern American culture has seen less new tricks that something like the Da Vinci Code could cause a controversy.

Could you imagine the uproar if people saw the 1974 nunsploitation film School of the Holy Beast or more people witness a full uncensored version of Ken Russell's movie The Devils? (like the scene with the nun masturbating on a cross?)

I don't even think people have seen a live guro film before and yet such things like Saw became the modern face of a horror franchise and such thing like Ledger's Joker become the modern face of a dark character even though these are commodity item characters too.

In fact, many of the recent box-office successes are commodity items wrapped up in style. Commodity concepts IMO are some of the best selling concepts because the mainstream feels comfortable watching them especially if you make it bigger, better and prettier.

P.S. I'm not denying that porn has become a commodity item.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2010, 01:43 AM by Paul Keith »


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Re: Sex Doesn't Sell
« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2010, 07:53 AM »
Well I didn't mean such a technique never has a place, but what I meant to highlight was that surely a sex scene is as valid in a film as any other.

Paul Keith

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Re: Sex Doesn't Sell
« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2010, 01:54 PM »
Maybe I just missed your point but I don't think it's possible to really highlight that.

Many people think sex belongs only in the act and the visual medium is for losers.

Then there's people who think it's only valid if you limit it to the "missionary" scenes.

The onion peel goes on and on...

Even after you justify that, a good porn film as with any good film uses such techniques as fade to black to highlight and not censor a sex scene so we are back again to treating the effect as a tool.

Even without fade to black, a porn film will use such similar techniques to highlight sex scenes instead of take away from them:

-fade to white (often used by hentai films to signify post-orgasm)
-angles (link NSFW)

As there's been a lot of discussion here recently about Hong Kong actresses and cinema, I thought I should do a post on the most famous erotic HK actress of all: Amy Yip. In spite of her global fame, there is surprisingly little concrete information I could find about about Amy, at least in English. Indeed, despite being famous for her obvious (enhanced) assets, even her nipples are a mystery: she always somehow manages to show all of her breasts, except the part everyone wants to see - a brilliant marketing strategy which has come to be known as the "Yip tease".

-underskirt and it's variation (viewpoint where the act is implied but the actual sexual organ is omitted)

-blanket over chest (a common technique used to not show nudity)

-Innuendo (besides the actual words, it could for example be a metaphor like a metallic drill as a penis for example)

-the "kiss" (i.e. a lesbian kissing scene depicting that something has took place)

...really in terms of highlighting and not highlighting, sex is no different than any other act in film. There's tons of ways to highlight, imply, satire, parody, take away it's sexuality depending on what you do with it.

A well respected artistic director like Kubrick for example can create a violent sex scene and justify it as a violent "art scene" even to the most anti-porn viewer. (The popular cliche of "it's a crucial element to pursue character development" or the other cliche where "the person who has sex gets it at the end and dies/humiliated" thus becoming more of a revenge film for anti-sex viewers.)

Then there's the previous quote about Cronenberg's Crash where the complaint was two-fold: 1) it was porn because it shows sex scenes and lots of it. 2) Since the correlation already has been made, then it's a bad porno because it didn't titillate.

...yet the entire movie judged as a whole is more about taking the fun out of sex scenes and making it more animalistic in order to un-arouse a viewer. (maybe even bore them to the actual act of sex they're viewing)
« Last Edit: January 05, 2010, 01:58 PM by Paul Keith »