In the past few weeks, I have found no need to even open up the
newspapers; I can already forecast what will be decorating the
newsprint pages. There will for certain be some article about a
corrupt politician, one article still chastising the Super Bowl’s
infamous “wardrobe malfunction” (by the way, can anyone tell me who
actually won the game?) and 30 articles on the sexual escapades at
the University of Colorado. If you take a good look at all these
topics, and excuse the upcoming math term, the lowest common
denominator is: sex.
While sex has always been a favorite of journalists and the
public alike, it has seemed to leap to the forefront of news in
recent months. Janet Jackson and her “show” at the Super Bowl is
just one brick in this building. Sex is the hot topic at the school
to the south where it seems it has been used as a top-notch
recruiting tool to sell their Big 12 football team.
Donald Trump and his show “The Apprentice” highlight the use of
the “sex sells” tactic. In the various competitions throughout past
weeks, the women’s team has found that pretty women and sex appeal
can drive you to the win. Although reprimanded by Trump for this
behavior, they have not yet been kicked off, proving the usefulness
of this school of thought.
Sex is obviously not just seen in the newspapers and on the 5
p.m. news. Every television station and show has this image in some
fashion, starting with the aptly named “Sex in the City” where all
aspects of four women’s lives are detailed, often graphically. Even
though this show’s title showcases the sexual content displayed,
some shows are a little more discrete. Sex has popped up in
everything from “The O.C.” to “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Research at the University of California at Santa Barbara shows
that 64 percent of television shows include some type of sexual
content, and 14 percent actually show people having sex.
What is the justification of all for this sex? Are all of the
media, television producers, marketers and advertisers, head
football coaches, and sex-deprived people searching for an outlet?
Well, some might be, but it is too common a theme for that to be
the answer. The real reason is obvious: sex sells.
Whether or not we like to admit it, sex does catch our
attention, which is exactly what they want it to do. Then, the
ultimate goal is to reel us in. Many advertisers and television
shows have proven to be very successful with this. No guy can tell
me they go to Hooters for the hot wings.
When did this blatant display of sex become the norm? When did
society say it was OK? Sure, there are people today who fight this
sexual image. Groups of moms and religious organizations band
together to try and stop this “sex sells” practice. But I fear that
they are just fighting a losing battle. The sexual image has become
so engrained in society that it would be nearly impossible to
change. Ranting and raving about sexual content just highlights the
advertisements and television shows even more, bringing them more
publicity and media time. Governmental regulations might stop the
overtly deliberate content, but they are still not going to get sex
out of society.
So if complaining and setting rules are not the answer, what is?
For the time being, the best thing is apathy. Sex is used to stir
up emotion and get you to buy the ultimate product, whether that is
beer, viewership or a football team. If we don’t respond to these
sexual images, by not buying the product for example, the end
result will show up in the numbers.
Many businesses are driven by the numbers, and when those
numbers decline, red flags go up. If the sex stops becoming
important and selling, they will move on. What they will move on to
remains up in the air, but this indifference to the sexual message
is the best shot we have at the moment.
Sex is not going to stop. The best thing we can hope for is that
it levels out and does not continue to push the limits. In the
meantime, expect it on all your favorite shows. When you go home
tonight to watch all those programs you recorded on TiVo, do not be
surprised by what comes on.
Stacey is a senior majoring in marketing. Her column runs every