Sex scenes are an extremely misused aspect of film. They have all the potential and the influence, yet they tend to be squandered in a lackluster display of moans and empty theatrics. 

Cinema is an art form meant to imitate life and celebrate its complexities, reveling in the highs and lows of being human. The constant stream of gratuitous nudity and hypersexualization of an unusually attractive cast completely misses the mark on what should instead be a moment to disengage from utopia and show something real, even if it only lasts for a few minutes. 

And so the cycle of unrealistic expectations, as well as the widening of the dichotomy between reality and film, continues, and we all are forced to bear witness.  

Women especially are the focus of an unnatural amount of attention when it comes to a sex scene, meant to carry the weight of all the eroticism on their shoulders with over–enthused facial expressions and breathy moans. Everything they do, from the way they walk into the room, to the way their smile doesn’t quite reach their eyes, is scripted, and it definitely does not go unnoticed by  any audience who’s ever engaged in a sexual act.  


Think Fifty Shades of Grey, a movie that opens up an entire can of worms concerning the abhorrently unrealistic depiction of BDSM relationships that it displays. Think Red Sparrow, one of the most uncomfortable movie experiences I’ve ever forced myself to endure. Think the pool scene in Showgirls, where Elizabeth Berkley is reminiscent of a fish flopping in water. These are extreme examples of just how unrealistic and unpleasant a sex scene could be. Most others seem to reside on the spectrum of discomfort and detachment that simply shouldn’t exist for such a raw and intimate moment in film, a moment that is often meant to be the culmination of passion and emotion between two star–crossed characters.



Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but that’s just what they are. Outliers. Deviations from the norm. Tiny glimpses of hope, of what could be, that keep you afloat among the sea of shitty nothingness that fills most other films. Cherish those scenes in Blue Valentine and those in Carol, because before you know it the scene will end. The moment will pass, and you’ll be catapulted back into the world of saccharine emotion, an imitation of reality that only skims the surface of human experience. 

Sex isn’t just a few screams and sweaty moments that pass as quickly as they come. Sex is personal. Sex is exciting, nerve–wracking at times, emotional, and always incredibly vulnerable. 

Sex is real, and that’s how it should remain. Hollywood, please take note. 


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