By Fiona McGrath
Sex, sex, sex – sex is everywhere. From magazines to music videos, we are bombarded by sex in the media today. Sex sells – that’s a given, but has it gone too far? I’m not a prude by any means but I think the media could be seen to be sexualising everything to the degree where it could be considered ‘porn-esque’.
Some perfume ads have nothing to do with the actual perfume. Take Cool Water by Davidoff for example. A man dives into a pool, gets out, and then proceeds to undress a beautiful woman. What’s the message? If you wear this and go out for a swim, you can then strip a supermodel-like woman? Well, realistically no. If you put on aftershave and go for a swim, your aftershave will wash off, and no girl would love a soaking wet cold man to disrobe her outside during the night. Of course, I am speaking for the majority of us girls who aren’t into that sort of thing.
The people who cause a fuss about sex in the media are generally the older generations. It doesn’t seem to affect our generation as we see it as normal. Sex was a taboo up until the end of the 80s, so I can understand why some individuals get offended, and yes, sexual images are over-used in the media today – mostly in perfume ads.
The ad for Gucci by Gucci supports the theory. It’s two women dancing in a seductive way, slowly at first, then it gets more intense and the lights start flickering, until they reach euphoria. What is the ad portraying? From what I gather, wearing this perfume is like having an – I’m going to say it – orgasm. But in reality, it’s just going to make you smell nice.
So why does the media do this? The media is targeting a particular audience – the younger generations. Some DCU students had mixed views on the matter.
Seán Ó Grifín (19) studying Gnó agus Gaeilge said “I personally don’t mind it too much, but I can see how people are appalled by it. Unfortunately, we have to live with it. Sex sells, marketers have picked up on it over the years.”
Dylan Mooney (18), studying Physics with Astronomy, said “I think people get shocked by sex-fuelled media because it reminds them that we are just intelligent animals. Our sex drives enslaves us just as much as it does a lion. See something promoted sexually? I want it now. Because we like sex… a lot! So people with superiority complexes over animals don’t like that. People that don’t get offended are merely people who like breasts and bootys, so guys basically.”
Adam Assahli (19) studying Law and Society, said that he isn’t offended by sexual images in ads, but sees it as pointless, “I mean, perfume ads are basically sex charged orgies. What has that got to do with the perfume? Not much, but thanks for the mild porno. Sex is interesting, and for those who know, it is enjoyable. It is understandable why advertisers would use it, but putting it in everything seems to be over doing it.”
Another Law and Society student, Carrie McMeel (19), said that she agrees.
“I’d be with the guys on this one – especially in the Dolce and Gabbana ad with Chris Evans,” she said. “Now don’t get me wrong. Of course I enjoy watching that fine specimen prance around in his nude with some girl, but it really doesn’t have anything to do with selling perfume.
“I think marketers promote sex in their ads because we’re driven by our sex drives – especially young people. Like that Aero ad with the man from Sex and the City. He was naked and although I did want an Aero bar, hoping he’d come with the chocolate bar, the ad itself had nothing to do with chocolate – just him speaking all seductively. So yeah, it’s good for some ads to make you want the product, but it is in other ads completely irrelevant and not needed. But still, if you want to get Eminem half naked in an ad… I will not object.”
From speaking to these DCU students, the College View found that they are not overly bothered or fascinated by the use of sexual images in advertisements. They can understand why it is used in the media, because sex is thought-provoking, it sells, and to some degree it works in ads.
Certain music videos are full of semi-naked women dancing around and looking like they are having the time of their lives. This has mainly been the case in rap videos and it’s not really questioned. Some would say it’s now the ‘norm’.
Recently, Britney Spears’ new music video Criminal has come under fire because some are saying it’s basically a sex tape. Spears has been asked to apologise for promoting gun violence in the video as well, but what about Eminem, Dr. Dre or even Snoop Dogg? They have half naked girls running about and people are getting shot, left right and centre in their music videos. Why don’t they have to apologise?
It’s a case of double-standards. We have an image of people, which causes us to give out about certain stars and leave the others alone. Britney Spears was seen as a ‘good girl’ – much like Miley Cyrus. Ditto with Rihanna. So when stars decide to ditch their ‘good girl’ image, some like to cause a fuss.
Rihanna’s video, We Found Love was partly filmed in Ireland, and during the shooting a farmer told Rihanna that she should cover up. He told the BBC “I thought it was inappropriate. I requested them to stop and they did, I had my conversation with Rihanna and I hope she understands where I’m coming from. We shook hands.”
Rihanna’s other video Man Down has also been criticised, as the start of her video shows Rihanna murdering a man who tried to rape her. This type of scenario happens in real life, so why are people angry about it? In listening to the lyrics, Rihanna is not saying you should go out and kill. In fact, the song states “I didn’t mean to end his life.”
Who’s to blame for the use of sex in the media? We are. We demand sex to be shown because, in fact, we love sex. Yes, it may be embarrassing if you are with your parents and a sexy ad or scene comes on TV, but it’s different if you are with your friends – you talk about it and then it sticks with you. So then the ad has served its purpose by getting into your head without you even realising.
Sex is a controversial subject in any term. Sex always has a wow factor in the media. But until we stop reacting to it – in a good or bad way, it will always be there. So if you aren’t impressed with it, you might just have to get used to it.