If one had to compose a list of the most popular subjects presented in media, sex would be in the top 10 for sure. The majority of debated moral problems are related to sex; media products, such as song lyrics, video clips on MTV, and many Hollywood movies, are dedicated to sex and/or intimate relationships. Not to mention that such a condition is limited in terms of cognition and personal development, but it is also rather harmful, as real sex and its commercialized version have stark differences. The danger starts from confusing these two paradigms.
Real sex is necessarily consensual—otherwise, it becomes a crime resulting into legal consequences. Be it passionate or dull, it still remains an act on which both individuals agree. For couples with healthy relationships, sex does not serve as a means to influence a significant other—otherwise, it becomes exploitative. In its turn, sex in media is almost necessarily exploitative, one way or another. The entertainment industry uses sensual images of both genders to promote products; celebrities use sexual images to gain more popularity; filmmakers and writers may overuse sexual scenes to maintain audiences’ interest, and so on. This leads to a binary idea that sex can be either used to achieve goals, or can be purchased in exchange for money or other stimuli (MSRStudies). Adults are believed to be able to distinguish between truth and lies; younger generations, however, often take media images at face value.
Children and teenagers are the most vulnerable age groups in terms of developing misconceptions about sex under media influence; affected by a constant bombardment of sexual themes, boys and girls tend to get a wrong understanding of gender roles, appropriate behavior and relationships, and of sex itself. Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to completely protect youth from an undesired exposure to commercialized sex themes. Hence, the best way for parents to deal with the possible negative consequences of such exposure would be to build closer relationships with their children, to let them understand that discussing sexual topics with parents is more adequate than learning all that elsewhere (The Oregonian). This could enable parents to fix misconceptions their children might develop under the influence of media.
The way sex is usually depicted in the media industry has lead to its perception from the consumerist point of view. Among the most widespread requirements indirectly imposed by media, one could mention physical attractiveness, sexual appeal and endurance, a certain type of behavior and lifestyle, and an idealistic body image. In pursuit of these rather illusionary ideals, an individual may develop serious psychological or physical diseases: stress, depression, anorexia, STDs, and so on (MSFStudies). Stated succinctly, every individual has their own capabilities, and thus should be guided only by their personal experiences, instead of following standardized pre-made models offered by media.
Sex has remained a topic of interest. However, the media industry has brought it to a new level, turning it into an idealism that many people try to match. Sex in media is mostly used for products or for the promotion of celebrities; this is a consumerist approach that implies that sex may be either a mean of achieving goals, or a service that can be easily purchased. Teenagers and children are especially vulnerable to media influences, as they have a lack of personal experience to base their perception on. Affected by distorted images in media, they develop incorrect conceptions about sexuality, gender roles, and sex itself. Moreover, even adults fall into this trap, trying to match idealistic (and often unrealistic) criteria, imposed by media. Inability to meet such requirements can have serious psychological and physical consequences.
Wang, Amy. “Kids, Pop Culture and Sex: What’s a Parent to Do?” The Oregonian. N.p., 26 Aug. 2010. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. <http://blog.oregonlive.com/themombeat/2010/08/kids_pop_culture_and_sex_whats.html>.
Lewis, John. “Sex Is Not What TV Shows You” MSFStudies. N.p., 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. <http://msfakestudies.org/articles/53330,html>.
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