Sex is to the movie industry what Jean Paul Sartre is to the forward pass in American football: even though they exist simultaneously, they literally have no connection to each other.
Back in the day, sex in the movies was a heated glance, a passionate kiss (sometimes two) and then a slow fade-out or a quick change of camera angle. It wasn’t reality, but everybody could kinda, sorta figure out what was going on. Somewhere in the 60s, things changed and movie makers started slipping a few bums or a breast or two into their films — the cliché “T and A” of all good advertising campaigns. Audiences liked it, critics applauded, and when the censors didn’t notice, film makers got bolder — and even bolder. By the 1980s, pretty much every movie except Rambo had an obligatory soft-core porno scene, and after that, the studios simply went nuts. Soon there was so much skin on the silver screen that it looked as if hard-core porn and mainstream movies were eventually just going to meet somewhere in the middle. Luckily, before it got to “Anthony Hardwood Meets Meg Ryan,” the studios came to their senses. Now the industry is governed by a strict set of rules which has returned sex in movies to its roots: it isn’t reality, but everybody can kinda, sorta figure it out.
Here are the basic rules:
Foreplay — These scenes begin with a heated glance, normally in a hallway, a doorway or an abandoned somewhere else. This is followed by a ferrrrrocious grappling, where the two characters clinch and chew on each other like a couple of starving wolverines. Snarling and slobbering, they tear at their clothes, smash each other into walls, stumble over furniture and generally wrestle each other to the ground, the floor, a desk, a kitchen table, a sofa, the hood of a conveniently placed ’57 Chevy, or sometimes even a bed. Vertical to horizontal takes anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds, the director calls cut and everybody checks for bruises.
Underwear* — The amount of underwear a female movie character gets is directly proportional to the fame of the actress portraying her. The more famous the actress, the more likely it is she’ll get a bra, keep it on, and even have sex without removing it. Lesser-known actresses spend a lot more time topless and sometimes don’t even get panties. A perfect example of this is Emilia Clark. In the beginning, when she and Game of Thrones were relatively unknown, Clark’s character Daenerys Targaryen spent most of Season One wearing nothing more than an injured air and a ribbon in her hair. However, after the Emmys started coming in, Clark’s character got to put her clothes back on, and for the last 5 seasons, has hardly undone a button.
*This rule does not apply to male characters who are allowed to take off their shirts anytime but must — miraculously — have sex without ever removing their underwear.
The Rule of Twelve — Every sex scene in contemporary movies has to contain these twelve mandatory elements: closed eyes, sweat, an arched back (women only) a standing thrust, a sitting bounce, one haunch-to-paunch clinch, a clawing hand, a gripping hand, a half-bum silhouette, at least one soundless moan, two barrel rolls and three nose-to-nose close-ups. Whatever’s left is up to the director’s discretion.
The Rule of One — One (and ONLY one) sex scene is allowed per movie– whether it’s Anne of Green Gables or The Marquis de Sade’s Summer Vacation. The general consensus is that one scene is art, two is indefensible as art, and three is … well, you might just as well be doing porn.
At the end of the day, everyone in the film industry will tell you that sex is used for realism and to advance or enhance the storyline. But, think about it. How much better would Gone With The Wind have been if we’d seen Rhett and Scarlett banging away on the ruined steps of Tara? Would our appreciation of Casablanca been enhanced by a ménage a trois between Rick, Ilsa and Victor Laszlo? What about Citizen Kane? Or The Wizard of Oz? Or a little man-on-man grab-ass in The Shawshank Redemption? No, no, no, no and no! The truth is sex in the movies is just a gratuitous way to put bums into theatre seats — full stop.