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Topic: Let's talk about sex and violence in fiction.

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Heavyarms55

So let's face it, a lot of fiction portrays some amount of violence and most have some degree of sexualization. Even kid series like Pokemon or Case Closed/Detective Conan show such things.

One thing I have noticed over the course of my life is that sex or sexual things are considered far far more "adult" and "taboo" than violence. There are variations on degree and specifics depending on what region you are in, but it is pretty consistent as a base idea. You can, in general, have a lot more violence in a work of fiction than anything sexual. And sexual things push the ratings up much faster than violence. I remember as a kid in the US, not being allowed to watch the movie Titanic not because it was a story about a ship sinking and thousands of people dying(spoilers, lol) but because there was a nude scene in it. In Japanese media, often high levels of violence are shown in series like Gundam or Dragon Ball, but showing two people simply kissing is a bigger deal (see the episode of Pokemon where Serena kisses Ash)

Just recently I was watching a particularly violent, recent anime, Goblin Slayer (which is awesome, btw, go watch it!) and saw several comments that were more shocked by off screen implied sex than by the brutal violence that proceeded it.

I'd like to hear people's thoughts. Why do we treat sex/sexual things as more taboo/adult than violence? Why is a nipple shot more adult than someone getting murdered?

No right or wrong answers here, I think. I just want to hear people's opinions. (Also, please avoid graphic details here, this thread is about the idea of sex/violence in media, not the juicy details)

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gcunit

People are simple minded, easily influenced, and repressed.

One would expect the generations to maybe ease up in terms of sexual repression, particularly in the Internet age, and I guess in some ways we are, but in other ways not.

This whole issue of consent, I'm not sure what to make of it. Is it just an easy topic for media outlets to score clicks with, or does it represent how people really feel.

We're at a point where a man and a woman can both get drunk, have sex with each other in their drunken state, and then the man being branded a rapist afterwards and tarnished with the same brush as one of those freak taxi drivers that kidnap and rape their customers etc. The offence of 'rape' definitely needs breaking down into different levels, because not 'consenting' because you were ****-face drunk is not free same as getting attacked and violently raped.

I think also sex is more taboo than violence because it's so intimate, physically and mentally. People are conditioned from an early age into hiding their genitals from anyone and everyone, and that breeds embarrassment around the whole issue for life for some. Fists and guns and blood etc just aren't as intimate and so more easily shared as a topic. So it's just easier watching Robocop with your Grandma than it is watching Debbie Does Dallas.

Edited on by gcunit

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Heavyarms55

@gcunit Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing.

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MetalKingShield

I've always thought it was an awful double standard, with the level of violence in any one film/TV show/game far, far higher than the erotic equivalent that would be allowed.

As @gcunit says, repression is an enormous part of this, and I'd say religion certainly has a huge role in that. Not that I want to totally bash religion in general, but some countries were literally founded by Puritans, which obviously has an enormous effect on the thinking and temperament handed down over generations. And as countries become less religious, they bring in new citizens from abroad who keep that way of thinking going.

Trying to be balanced, you could also say that sex is a valuable thing that parents naturally don't want to encourage their kids to get into too early, getting someone pregnant before they're ready or catching an STI. But then you don't really want to encourage them to be violent either, so that argument doesn't hold a great deal of weight.

If we take the argument that "what's on screen stays on screen", I don't think there's any justification for holding erotic content to a higher standard than violence. Sex is far, far less offensive to see, in my opinion, and the idea that you would need to be 18 to see a naked woman is just something I can't understand at all.

Edited on by MetalKingShield

MetalKingShield

Octane

@MetalKingShield Good points, but I think an important to add is that we're far removed from the kind of violence we see in video games and films in our daily lives. In ways it becomes a sort of fiction because (hopefully) you never get to experience it. I think that makes it easier to normalise extreme violence in the entertainment industry. Not to say there isn't a double standard, but I do think it's less black-and-white than we want it to be.

Octane

MetalKingShield

Octane wrote:

@MetalKingShield Good points, but I think an important to add is that we're far removed from the kind of violence we see in video games and films in our daily lives. In ways it becomes a sort of fiction because (hopefully) you never get to experience it. I think that makes it easier to normalise extreme violence in the entertainment industry. Not to say there isn't a double standard, but I do think it's less black-and-white than we want it to be.

Fair point, I see what you're saying, although I'd say the average man runs a reasonable risk of being on the receiving end of the kind of violence you'd see in the 12-certificate Captain America: The Winter Soldier, for example. Punches, headbutts etc.

It's actually the gender double standard that bothers me more nowadays. As a kid, it always bothered me that strong violence was acceptable on screen, purely as a visual thing, and anything sexual was kept for 18-certificate. But nowadays I feel there is a desire to not titillate the audience, particularly a male audience. While we're talking about Marvel, Chris Evans, Chris Pratt and Chris Hemsworth have all done topless scenes in these 12-rated films, clearly to please the female audience, whereas there are not the equivalent shots to titillate males, even if it's just bikinis (I know there are a few bikinis here and there, but it's not done the same way).

So whilst I feel society was moving away from the religion-induced puritanism, I believe we're now under the grip of a more political, gender-based puritanism. The internet allows vocal minorities to lobby and bully - here in the UK they have got several publications to remove bikini shots/topless women by targeting the advertisers. The situation won't be resolved until companies know the true beliefs and preferences of every single consumer.

MetalKingShield

Dogorilla

Yeah I've always thought it was odd that nudity is considered so taboo, especially when you consider that nudity is a natural state of being and everyone has seen themselves naked, but seeing other people naked on TV is restricted to adults only. Even in the real world, being naked in public can get you in trouble with the law. I just think that's one of the strangest social constructs that's developed over the course of humanity, especially the fact that female nipples are much more taboo than male nipples. Mario Odyssey would have had to be given a 12 or 15 rating if Mario were a woman...

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Anti-Matter

Talking about sex, there is a Difference between Japanese games and USA games.

On Dance Dance Revolution 3rd Mix (Arcade & Japanese PS1) there are 3 songs from E-ROTIC (Germany EuroDance singers) with their Infamous Porn songs (Do It All Night, Oh Nick Please Not So Quick, Turn Me On ~Heavenly Mix~ ).

The songs are really great, really catchy and really porn (Talking about having sex , erotic moans, etc) , honestly i enjoy those songs .
But surprisingly Konami DIDN'T censored on Japan version. The songs were treated like a Normal songs that anyone (including kids) can play those songs.
DDR USA version NEVER get any E-ROTIC songs due to controversy about Sex songs , except In The Heat of The Night by E-ROTIC that the Only E-ROTIC song appeared on Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2 PS2 USA due to Non erotic lyric song.

So, i see Japanese is more acceptable with sexual theme since in Japan there are Fundoshi, Onsen, LGBT manga or doujinshi, etc like it's quite normal to talk about sexual references, but Japanese don't like to see peoples kissing in public.
Also, some kids anime (Yokai Watch, Pokemon, Yugioh, etc) have some sexual references / partial nudity like shirtless boys or completely naked boys (with something covered on his genital or his butt exposed), ecchi, etc. And Japanese more acceptable with CrossDressing (Male wears female outfits and vice versa) especially in Cosplay event.

Talking about nudity, if you visit Papua (Indonesia island), you will see naked tribal ladies (barechested) over there, young and old. They still wear traditional clothes (almost naked).

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subpopz

Dogorilla wrote:

the fact that female nipples are much more taboo than male nipples.

Technically it should "acceptable" to take a pic of a womans breast, photoshop out just her nipple and put a male nipple in it's place. Truly bizarre.
It varies greatly regionally, though too. I watch a mix of TV from Canada, UK and USA. American TV is far more censored for language and sexual content than the other two. Some of the same shows that air on UK and USA stations are very different experiences due to the censoring the American channels have. I haven't really noticed much difference in the violence censorship.

subpopz

G-Boy

I think it just depends on what person you're asking. Some people are prudish, while others dislike violence, and here in Sweden, it's usually the latter. American companies seemingly love to censor everything, most likely because they want to be on the safe side and not upset an insane parent, but I still feel like it's gotten better lately.

G-Boy

ReaderRagfish

Sex scenes and similar questionable content is everywhere these days, even in stuff only rated 13+. They just make sure not to show the private parts.

@MetalKingShield In the old days, it was often the strongly religious who would complain about "offensive" content. Nowadays it's the people on the opposite side of the spectrum complaining about how everything is offensive. In that sense, we haven't really moved at all from the "puritan censorship". In fact, some would argue it's actually gotten worse.

Also, I like your name/avatar.

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Elvie

You call me wrong but I think it's because, in a sense, easier to hide in reality than violence. People generally wear clothing and they also value privacy, which has made the whole topic being associated with crass feelings.

In any sort of environment, natural or man-made, violence is much more frequent as hunting, killing, and fighting is required for survival while reproduction is isolated to a few brief moments (unless you are a Bonobo).Humans can fight or kill when they believe there is justification for it so anger or selfishness makes humans give in but as @gcunit brought up, there's this social standard that has made people practice and respect these norms of decency.

Both sexual content and violent content can be seen as damaging and low class but the former can cause a entirely different type of response than the latter because of the intimacy, make people insulted that a writer or artist is generalizing/branding the audience by assuming they can capitalize on their innate attractions, and induce a stigma of being too indulgent of this content.

In regards to fiction, stories usually require some sort of conflict to make them enticing. If anyone remembers or have taken Literature classes, there are different classifications of conflict and a set of stages in a story (Exposition-->Rising Action-->Climax-->Falling Action-->Resolution) that molds together pretty well with violent elements across many forms of entertainment. This probably makes sexual elements easier to appear gratuitous and for that it gets called out more often.

Elvie

Heavyarms55

MetalKingShield wrote:

The situation won't be resolved until companies know the true beliefs and preferences of every single consumer.

One thing I want to point out with regards to this is that it will never happen. Because there are too many different points of view.

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Heavyarms55

@Anti-Matter Be careful not to judge Japan by its media. One of the great contradictions of Japanese culture is their media VS their reality. A lot of Japanese media tends to the more exotic and fanciful because regular life in Japan is actually very formalized and in some people's opinions, stifling.

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MetalKingShield

ReaderRagfish wrote:

@MetalKingShield In the old days, it was often the strongly religious who would complain about "offensive" content. Nowadays it's the people on the opposite side of the spectrum complaining about how everything is offensive. In that sense, we haven't really moved at all from the "puritan censorship". In fact, some would argue it's actually gotten worse.

Yeah, I agree. In democracies it's hard to ban things by law, apart from obvious things that the population genuinely wants to be illegal (in which case, it's quite right to ban them). But whilst we may well be seeing less religious puritanism, it seems to now be more of a social/political puritanism.

And I'm sorry to bring gender into it, but whereas traditional puritanism was "Do not titillate", I do feel the new puritanism is "Do not titillate males". We get Magic Mike nowadays, but would we get Showgirls? (I'll leave the individual to decide which one is the better situation!)

I feel things were getting better in the '90s and '00s, but this type of activism is greatly empowered at the moment. Of course, people power can be positive, but I wonder how many they truly represent.

Heavyarms55 wrote:

One thing I want to point out with regards to this is that it will never happen. Because there are too many different points of view.

Well, to put it another way, a few years ago The Sun newspaper was persuaded to drop its Page 3 pictures (topless women in a glamour modelling style, for those who don't know). Now I don't suppose The Sun knew how many people who actually read the paper were opposed to them, but the activists were successful by targeting companies who advertised with them. In the same way "lads mags" have disappeared from the shelves. If those companies had the real data about how many people agreed or disagreed with the activists, they might not be so cowed. I admit it's not practical, but it's something that may be possible soon.

Another possibility, with streaming films, would be the option for each user to censor what they liked, in terms of violence, sex, nudity, swearing etc. That way you'd have far more data about what the population thinks.

MetalKingShield

Heavyarms55

@MetalKingShield I do districtly like the idea of user focused censorship. Meaning having an easy to use tool to censor out content you don't want to see. I'd go a step further and include a parental control feature as well. Letting the public decide what they want to see on an individual or family basis seems more practical than companies attempting in vain to please everyone.

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