Sex in Media

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Professor X
English 1A
April 17, 2013
Advertising Sex
The saying, “Sex sells,” has never been more relevant than in today’s media. According to an internet article, “Sexual information, whether in the form of pictures, stories, or sounds, has been shown to evoke a predictable range of emotional responses within viewers” (Reichert). The emotions that are triggered from sexual images are that of arousal and intrigue among viewers. In essence, openly risqué images and behavior in the media have a major influence on its audience. Particularly, the sexual advertising blitz of the last five decades has created major problems among young adults. Moreover, explicitly sexual advertising is specifically targeted towards young girls and boys, which is negatively affecting them and needs to be monitored.

The media today is blatantly sexual in television programs. Certain popular television shows are completely about the many sexual encounters a character experiences. For example, the show Desperate Housewives is about a group of women going through struggles and family life, while facing dirty secrets about themselves and their neighbors. The show depicts Gabrielle, a popular and beautiful character, having a steamy affair with her gardener, who happens to be a teenager, and then trying to keep it a secret from her husband. Sadly, “Desperate Housewives is the most popular broadcast-network television show with kids aged 9-12” (Facts and TV Statistics). Another popular TV program that encourages promiscuity and has a huge teenage audience is That 70’s Show. The show follows six teenagers in the 70’s dealing with “normal” teenage problems such as using drugs, having strict parents, and dating problems. Instead of shining a negative light on some of these teenage situations, That 70’s Show glorifies smoking marijuana and pre-marital sex. Specifically, Kelso, the best-looking and funniest guy on the show, cheats on his girlfriend and is praised for doing so by his friends. These types of characters are what children and teenagers are growing up seeing and idolizing, which causes their sexual behavior.

Magazines and their use of advertisement has followed suit representing sex as the number one way of attracting customers. Cosmogirl, a young woman’s magazine, has article advertisements on covers that read, “First time sex! Teens who’ve done it tell you everything” or “Blow his mind! The trick that’ll have him aching for you” (Cosmogirl). Unfortunately, these articles are meant for an audience in the age group of 13 to 19 year old girls. Cosmogirl is fantasizing sex for its audience of young women. Another magazine, Men’s Health, has also taken steps to attract its readers with sexual articles about how to “properly” please a woman. Articles in Men’s Health read “30 Red-hot Sex Secrets” and “Dress For More Sex” (Men’s Health). The truth is, young men and women read these articles in these magazines and become desensitized with feelings of passion and obligation to pursue the acts they read about. The media is directly affecting children’s and young adult’s views of sex making them feel as though it is just another activity like going to the movies or going bowling.

Moreover, the media is specifically targeting young men and women. Television characters on TV shows are idolized by young women and men. Kelso, a teenage character from That 70’s Show, engages in adult situations by having sex with his girlfriend and then cheating on her with other women. Young men watch Kelso and think its “cool” or normal to go out and behave as he does. Clothing advertisements in magazines and in young adult stores are provocative. In the story Is Sex all that Matters?, Joyce Garity describes how, “A billboard for Levi’s shows two jean-clad young men on the beach, hoisting a girl in the air. The boy’s perfect, tan bodies are matched by hers, although we see a lot more of hers: bare midriff, short shorts, [and] cleavage.”...
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