I believe that Hollywood does a great disservice toward American views on sex, arguably more than porn since more people see mainstream Hollywood films than porn. More importantly, most of us were watching Hollywood films at a younger age, and the sex scenes we were seeing on the big screen, while not explicit, were still some of our first impressions of what sex is “supposed” to be.
Think about it. What does the stereotypical Hollywood sex/love scene look like? For starters, it’s heterosexual. A man and a woman, both of whom have perfect bodies, are coming together to celebrate their deep and passionate love for each other. In rare cases, it’s carnal lust, but most often, the myth of “one true love” is part of the scene. There are almost always candles setting the scene and romantic music in the background. Birth control and condoms aren’t discussed or used. The couple’s movements flow, almost dance-like. Everything happens smoothly and sensuously. There’s very little foreplay, and yet the woman will reach orgasm. The scene will likely end with the simultaneous climax of both partners during penis-in-vagina sex.
After so many years of watching movies like Dirty Dancing and other romantic chic flicks as a teenager, I certainly had very set expectations of what things would be like when I finally got to have sex. As one might expect, I was sorely disappointed by the reality.
Let’s start with the literal mess that sex creates. Nowhere in Hollywood sex scenes is there a mess. Whether it’s sweat, semen, arousal fluid, squirting, menstrual blood or lube causing the mess, sex is inherently messy. In the Hollywood sex scenes, no one breaks a sweat and no one fumbles lube because of slippery hands. No one ends up in a cold wet spot on the bed. Hollywood sex is very sterile. In the real world? Not so much.
Real world sex is also not choreographed, but the sex scenes in the movies are very much pre-planned though most young people watching don’t realize this. The movie sex scenes involve days of rehearsal, hours of practice, and dozens of cuts. The actors involved don’t just hook up with the camera rolling. Hollywood sex is a staged, choreographed, intricately planned scene that in no way resembles what happens in most people’s bedrooms.
In the sex that most of us have, arms and legs often become problematic. It sometimes seems like there is an extra octopus involved even though you know there are (usually) only four arms and four legs. Human arms really need to be detachable at times because they get in the way or get uncomfortable being underneath a partner. Legs sometimes end up in weird positions. Knees and elbows often bump partners unintentionally in painful and sometimes sensitive places. Bodies will sometimes make unexpected and indelicate noises that are far from romantic and definitely aren’t something that would show up in a Hollywood sex scene.
Most of all, our bodies are imperfect. We have scars, stretch marks, and fat. Most of us don’t have a six pack. Our skin is not necessarily smooth. We have moles, acne, bacne, and skin tags. Our breasts sag. Our hair falls out or grows in places we don’t want it. Our bodies aren’t perfect, and yet at the same time they are amazing bodies that can give us immense pleasure.
And then there are the orgasms. While simultaneous climax does happen, it’s not the most common occurrence during sex. More importantly, sex is a lot more than penis-in-vagina which is what Hollywood glorifies. What most people term foreplay is actually sex, especially for women. Only 25% of women are able to have orgasms from penetrative vaginal sex, so for the other 75%, the Hollywood scenes are a complete mythology. Oral sex and manual sex are very common ways of helping partners reach orgasm, but rarely are those shown in the mainstream. Instead, Hollywood is still focusing on the “ultimate” myth of glorifying the almighty penis.
Hollywood could start doing so much to open up the sexual mindset of America. We need to be seeing sex acts, even discrete ones with no revealing nudity, that aren’t focused on penile-centric sex. We need to be shown women having orgasms from having their clitorises stimulated. We need to see couples taking turns having orgasms. And most importantly, we need to see both halves of couples helping afterward to clean up the huge mess sex can make!