I read Wired magazine each month, almost cover to cover in order to keep up with technology trends and because I am a bit of a nerd. (Have you seen my Star Wars Lego collection in my office?) In the middle of the April edition I came across a tiny little article that grabbed my attention, and made me immediately concerned for my church. My level of alarm could easily label me as a prude, but if you walk a month in my shoes and truly see the effects of pornography on the church, you might also be concerned.
The article was entitled, “Sex Makes Shows Smarter.” The basic gist of this article is that sex is no longer an addition to the show that marketers included to “sell” it, but now are using sex scenes to move along the plot line. In others words, if you fast forward that sex scene, you will not be able to follow the plot and will quickly lose out on that important conversation with everyone talking about the plot twist at the office the next day . . .
A chart accompanied the article, highlighting the application of “plot sex” versus “gratuitous sex”. Some examples are as follows: Game of Thrones (Season 1) had 9 scenes of “plot sex” and only 4 scenes of “gratuitous sex”. Wow! What a SMART SHOW! True Blood (Season 1) had 5 scenes of “plot sex” and a whopping 10 scenes of “gratuitous sex”. But no fears . . . True Blood’s producers are learning and by season 4 they evened that out with 6 scenes of each.
According to the article, this is not merely that the sex scene moves along the plot by who is getting with who . . . but there is actually the “Luke, I am your father” kind of revelations going on during these scenes. A quote from the article says, “Then the coup de grace: a major character delivering a five-minute monolog while two women get it on in the background. Even the competition couldn’t hide its admiration.” And the article goes on to explain how other producers were jealous that they hadn’t thought of that!
We live in a culture that is boiling men alive by turning up the temperature by one degree a year. Is this a big deal? In one way, we need to acknowledge that watching other people engaged in sexual activity is voyeuristic and prurient even if you are not religious. But for anyone who would try to live their lives according to Biblical standards, inflaming lust in any way goes directly against the life that Jesus Christ himself came to offer us through His sacrifice. And this article is celebrating the ingenuity of utilizing the obscene in order to keep people engaged in the plot line. In other words, we are afraid you won’t be able to track with this plot and will lose interest unless we can have sexual acts depicted WHILE moving the plot line along.
I am not quick to tell believers what to do and not to do. I trust the Spirit of God will move true believers into truth, conviction, and better living. But we live in a culture that is tricky, creative and hypocritical. We live in a culture that inflames lust on the tube and then is incredulous when a politician is caught in a affair. It is clear to me, that there are some shows I cannot watch, because I refuse to follow a plot-line where pornography is the vehicle of communication. There are very dramatic shifts in the media landscape regarding what is and isn’t acceptable. I grew up in a culture that would’ve said, “Sex sells.” But we have now moved into an era where it may be better said, “Sex communicates”. And what many of these producers are identifying, is that they are competing with porn for viewership.
Pornography is a blight on our culture. But all it ever does, is feed the lust that already resides in the human heart. These producers are onto something that Wired calls “smart sexposition”. More than just avoiding certain shows, the call from Scripture is a repentance(turning away) from seeking to fill a longing with all of these passing pleasures. Scripture would beckon us to turn from sexual pleasure as ultimate and turn to the only one who can satisfy the desires of our soul, and give us true peace and rest.