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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Dial down sex on TV

Gabriel Fiorini
A hummingbird, two bees and a bees’ nest hanging from a tree branch emerge from a television screen. Opinion Columnist Kahlil Kambui believes sex in movies and TV shows is overrated. (Gabriel Fiorini | Northern Star)

Sex scenes and nudity in movies and TV shows are largely unnecessary, sometimes adding nothing to the plot and causing awkward moments if you are watching with your parents. There should be more consideration among producers when adding sex to media, making sure it’s done in a way that is tasteful and not disturbing to the viewer.

In a survey of 1,500 young people, more than half said they wanted to see more TV show and movie content with a focus on friendships. Of the people surveyed, 39% said they want more asexual and aromantic characters on screen, according to the UCLA’s 2023 Teens & Screens report.

The way sex is portrayed in the media is overbearing, most scenes add nothing substantial to the movie. In fact, 47.5% of respondents to the same UCLA survey said TV shows and movie plots don’t need sex.

While the portrayal of sex and nudity in the media shouldn’t be completely removed, there needs to be a better standard for where it is placed and if it’s appropriate.

The 2016 film “Moonlight” is a good example of sex and nudity done tastefully: the story of a man named Chiron as he struggles to come to terms with his sexuality and identity following a rough childhood. In one scene, Chiron – played by Ashton Sanders – and a childhood friend make love on the beach under the moonlight. It’s a moment of vulnerability and intimacy Chiron never had before and is significant for his character development. 

Sex and nudity in all sorts of media should be done to evoke emotion from the viewer and further develop the story, not as just some throwaway moment that doesn’t mean anything or deepen the main theme of the story.

For Rafael Escobedo, a freshman electrical engineering major, nudity and sex scenes in the media make him uncomfortable.

“I’ll be honest, sometimes I’d be uncomfortable by them sometimes,” Escobedo said. “It depends on, like, the movie, like one where like, if it’s an action, it’s kind of like it gets, I don’t know just, it’s just kind of, like, distracts the whole point of the movie, in my opinion. So on like content, like I get, like, grossed out by it, I guess.”

Mariah Petersmark, a sophomore psychology major, believes sex scenes in media can sometimes be alright but can be done poorly as well. 

“Like sometimes, I guess it’s like, you know, it’s cool because you know the tension will build up, but sometimes, it’s just like the most unnecessary thing ever,” Petersmark said. “When I was watching, like, “Oppenheimer,” there was like, a 15-minute sex scene and I’m like, ‘what?’ Like, I thought this movie was supposed to be like a war.”

The scene in “Oppenheimer” is not actually 15 minutes, but extensive sex and multiple scenes of nudity can make it feel as if it was.

Sex scenes in media and sexual nudity are either made in poor taste or done to titillate the viewer. But, there are ways to imply that sex happened in movies and TV shows without actually showing it. More films and media should be mindful of the audience when making sex scenes.

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