Last week my wife and I had a discussion about sex in television series. I usually quite enjoy sex scenes. My wife often finds them superfluous and tacky. Actually, I don’t disagree with her entirely. Sex and nudity in series, films and videogames isn’t hard to find, but rarely done properly or aesthetically pleasing. It often keels over into exploitative territory and becomes nothing more but a shallow shtick to attract more viewers. Sex and violence with the purpose of being edgy is a phenomenon increasing in popularity these days. And yet, I can’t help the racy little smirk whenever it happens.
“You just like nudity”, said my wife jokingly.
“That’s true, I love nudity. I like butts and boobs and sturdy boners.”
“Oh! Well, that’s new”, she scoffed.
I came out as bisexual not very long ago. Me and people around me are still getting used to it. My wife and I have very amusing conversations about the cuteness of Chris Hemsworth now. My boner comment veered our debate into Dragon Age and the purpose of flaccid cocks, as proposed by Iron Bull. We are nerds and play videogames and that’s the best context for us to discuss sexuality.
Videogames on average do a terrible job at conveying sex in a healthy, positive way. As do most media, actually. Check out my Tumblr and you occasionally can find I reblog artsy photos of pretty lads and ladies in the (semi)nude. I suppose partly because of this I get followed once in awhile by porn blogs. And when I say porn I literally mean rampant, uncurbed porn in all its unrefined lewdness. Internet porn is the tasteless and dry McDonald’s hamburger obscuring the moist, seasoned and nicely grilled Angus beef that’s just waiting for you down the street. If sexuality is a symphony by Mozart, most depictions of it in popular media is the same symphony played on a kazoo.
Sexy times in popular media are so often the punchline. In videogames it’s implemented as a reward, most of the time. Lots of games carry it out in the most awkward way possible. Badly animated pelvis collisions, offscreen sex with shaking walls and sound files of grunting and groaning on loop. There are positive exceptions of course. BioWare games hold the reputation of approaching sex scenes in an open, tasteful way with an eye for inclusivity and realism. Their romantic gameplay elements try to go for relatable relationships and cutscenes depict very human, flawed characters enjoying sex rather than rigid performance-fucking for the pleasure of the viewer.
But still, it’s all part of a gameplay element and comes as the closing paragraph of a romantic subplot. An organic implementation of nudity, sex that is not a plot point or a salacious, tacked-on window dressing is sadly still too rare. Television series vary greatly in proper use of it too. Orange is the New Black often does a proper job. It has a lot of non-sexualised nudity, body diversity and also shows sex as something people do because they enjoy it instead of moving a plot forwards.
There’s a lot of debauchery in Game of Thrones, Black Sails and Penny Dreadful too, to name a few series I have been watching lately. I purposely use this term because that’s what the scenes in those series seem to go for in most cases. Penny Dreadful also implements a sense of shock and macabre, in line with its overall tone and thematics. The latter though does have a broader context for its sexual content though, whilst Game of Thrones and Black Sails go primarily for titillation. A good indicator for such purpose are boobs. Breasts are almost a staple element for mature cinema. Show two people having sex in a movie and almost every element of it can be left out, but the woman has to be topless and the sexy meter if filled up, apparently. Kissing starts, the girl bares her chest, couple drops on the bed and the screen fades to black. Sounds familiar, right?
I like pretty lads and ladies with beautiful, diverse and flawed bodies having pretty screentime together, organically interwoven with a good story. I would like games with non sexualised nudity and tasteful romantic sex scenes, or explicit raw banging but in a realistic, non-misogynistic setting and context. I would love Lara Croft to have a bigger butt and the protagonist in Red Dead Redemption 2 to be transsexual, Marcus and Wrench from Watch Dogs 2 have delicious sex and the romance option in next Mass Effect to start with a sex scene and have dialogue options about doing the right space ship calibrations.