People like sex. Almost any advertisement will confirm this theory as Americans have a fascination with skin – the more we see, the better. Yet, we’re also one of the most socially conservative first world societies, especially when it comes to sex. There are countless groups that condemn all the “immorality” in today’s media and the FCC is busy making sure we’re not exposed to too much nudity or violence (before 10pm). Yet, as much as we may like to think about sex, we don’t like to talk about it, or let anyone else know what turns us on.
Considering this, the overnight success of E.L. James’ steamy 50 Shades of Grey is even more intriguing. In a few short months, the book has gone from relative anonymity as the secret guilty pleasure of a few housewives to the most talked about book in America. Now, as speculation increases over who will be cast in a film version of the book, the trilogy is gaining even more attention.
The book goes into to explicit detail when describing the sadomasochistic relationship between the dark and sexy, Christian Grey and the virginal Anastasia. In one scene, (beautifully read by Stephen Hawking), the author describes Grey removing the heroine’s tampon before demanding that she hold on to the sink in order to send “her flying high.” This is just one of the many erotic scenes that make the book so popular.
There are many other books like this in the romance genre, one of the few genres that has seen growth during the recession, and the same goes for big screen films that exploit our deepest fantasies. Eyes Wide Shut, Basic Instinct, and Wild Things are just a few films that pushed the boundaries of America’s captivation with sexuality with graphic sex scenes. When released, all of those films were slammed by parenting groups for their gratuitous amount of sex, yet in comparison to other films made independently and overseas, what went down in those movies was child’s play.
Many of the films with the most sex never make it to the mainstream, let alone become successful. Take Showgirls for example. Despite the overabundance of attractive, barely-clothed girls, the film flopped commercially and critically. There are plenty of other films that suffered the same fate, and maybe that is America’s way saying there is something as too much of a good thing.
Despite its plethora of X-rated scenes, there is little doubt whether the film version of 50 Shades will be successful thanks to its ardent popularity. However, when thinking of the actors lucky (or cursed) enough to play the unforgettable characters of Christian and Anastasia, I have a hard time imagining hunky Ryan Gosling and innocent Emma Watson – popular frontrunners for each role – enacting all of the sordid encounters form the book. As talented as I think both of those actors are and no matter how much I would love to see Gosling in next to nothing, this might be one movie where is less is more.