General Question

Hobbes's avatar

Why is it far more acceptable in the media to depict violence than it is to depict sex?

Asked by Hobbes (7355points) July 22nd, 2011

Why is it more acceptable to show the physical expression of hate than it is to show the physical expression of love?

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36 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Forget about “the physical expression of love” for a moment, but why is it so awful to show a few square inches of skin that aren’t shown at the beach already… but it is perfectly acceptable to show a body being blown up in slow motion (even if the visual effects aren’t real).

ETpro's avatar

Excellent question. The only answer I can guess at, @Hobbes, is that we are deeply misguided in our sense of propriety and what actually deserves moral outrage.

filmfann's avatar

It’s better to be in a theater full of frightened women than to be in a theater full of horny men.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I love @filmfann ‘s answer, but I think it is because America as a whole is so sexually repressed due to religion.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Don’t agree that it is.

Hobbes's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir – How many depictions of graphic violence do you see in the mainstream media? How many of graphic sex?

woodcutter's avatar

Do you mean by media, the news outlets? When a bomb goes off in Norway it’s news and it’s something people would be interesting to know. News footage of a nude beach or people having sex isn’t newsworthy, is it?


I guess the “evilness” of hate is more acceptable than the “shame” of sex, which is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in our society. Given a choice, I’d much rather have my children watch two adults making love and having sex on television than people chop-socketing each other (like in those violent martial arts movies), or committing murder without any sense of right and wrong. To me, violence in all its forms is much more detrimental to the young mind than sex or nudity.

I wish Hollywood (and television) would clean up its act and stop feeding the public gratuitous violence. The world is getting uglier, and it seems a lot of people have been de-sensitized to the violence Hollywood gives us. The more the media gives us, the more we seem to like it and hunger for it, so it assumes a state of “acceptability”. If you notice, a lot of movies out there have titles that reflect violence or aggression (eg., “Die Hard”, “Romeo Must Die”, “Horrible Bosses”.) Just the titles alone! I wish people would stand up and reject the crap that Hollywood constantly puts out.

jrpowell's avatar

It isn’t. We are just lazy and let them do it.

scarletheels's avatar

We’re a sexually repressed country. Hopefully, that changes.

greenergrass's avatar

Because generally, more people watch violence.
less watch romance that would have to be censored and a danger to channel-surfing-under-aged-kids.

However, I do agree with many of the answers above:
@CWOTUS violence is no less explicit than sex is, and maybe it’s society today that blinds their kids from sex scandals, but teaches them about the violence in international disputes.

@ETpro I think that both blowing off heads and sexual scandals (etc.) are both morally wrong because you are killing mankind while emotionally/physically hurting the other. However, the difference is that one is more relevant because kids have older brothers and COD while the others are only made up of the audience that has had “the talk” and knows what sex is.

ETpro's avatar

@greenergrass Why is watching explicit sex a danger to underaged kids when watching graphic violent murder is perfectly OK?

In tribal cultures in the Amazon, the entire tribe live inside one long hut-like structure. I would be willing to bet kids as young as two have witnessed sex there. Somehow, they don’t turn into sexual predators and their heads don’t explode. I wonder how well they would fare if they routinely watched various members of the tribe fight to the death and dismember one another.


@scarletheels Exactly. In our society, sex is either something to be ashamed about, or something to poke fun at and joke about. In comparison to other societies around the world, we are not as “grown-up” as we think we are.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I suspect there is a Christian influence. Sex is shunned or hidden away by religion, historically. Violence, on the other hand, is a prominent theme.


@ANef_is_Enuf You have a great point. Christianity has a lot to do with it. In the Bible, sex is almost always looked down on with contempt. There are numerous references and stories filled with violence, however (eg., the story of David and Goliath).

rooeytoo's avatar

In the world I live in, I am constantly bombarded with sex and violence. It is impossible to turn on the television, radio or even look at a billboard without sex being involved. It is used to sell everything. It is in movies too, it is hard to find a movie that doesn’t have at least one steamy sex scene. I am not sure which is more prevalent, they are both there.

Movies and now video games are rated according to age allowed to see it. Too much sex or violence gets an M rating which means over 18 (or is it 15).

So I don’t think one is more acceptable than the other, I am sick of seeing both. I can watch the news if I want to see it. I would rather be entertained with something else.


@rooeytoo It seems to be getting worse. Started back in the late 60s and early 70s.

greenergrass's avatar

@ETpro What I’m saying is that in this society, a wider variety of ages watch violence when surfing through the channels. These are the same kids who have older brothers who play COD and curse when they’re in second grade. Then there are those who see sexual content on tv when surfing through channels, and when notifying an adult, the adult would probably be slightly more taken aback because it is a touchier subject, which has been looked down upon as @ANef_is_Enuf and @MRSHINYSHOES is saying. I’m not saying that either is better or wore than the other, it’s just the reaction and tolerance that comes with the subject.

Berserker's avatar

I often wonder that. Also why can’t you hear the word fuck on TV but it’s okay to bust some fucker’s ribs until he pukes his entrails out?

I was gonna pretend I had an answer, but eh.

greenergrass's avatar

@Symbeline What exactly are you saying? I’m guessing that maybe language is a whole other matter maybe, than content. Maybe it’s where society draws the line because there are other words to say and it’s a topic that most people are collectively on the same level with. “this is when you say it, this is when you don’t”... “these are the people who say it, these are the people who don’t”. I could be totally off track and sound like a babbling idiot, but that’s only because I’m not clear on the question :-)


I think that both violence and sex need to be regulated in the media, but violence more.

@greenergrass makes a good point about how kids, teenagers are exposed to highly sexual content as they surf through channels, on YouTube, and none of it is really regulated or restricted. Just like I don’t want my kids watching violence, I don’t want my kids watching sexual acts that tend to the violent side, or the kinky, abnormal side. I wouldn’t mind them watching two consenting adults making love and having wonderful sex, but two people performing S&M, simulated rape, and other kinky sex, no way.

Berserker's avatar

@greenergrass I’m saying it’s odd that violence be depicted, but that while it’s being depicted, cussing is bleeped out.

In a way that makes sense, because I’ve always been arguing that most people, since most of us watch movies, won’t reenact what we see on TV and movies. (people often blast violence on TV, I’m sure you know)

Swearing is a lot easier to reenact. So it would make sense if it was taken out.

Although my basis against such censorship is that people use it all the time and kids hear it everywhere, not just TV. I learned all my swearing at school, and I didn’t even finish school. So I don’t get why they block it out. To feed the angry mobs, maybe. Make em think someone has shit under control.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
linguaphile's avatar

I might be wrong because I’m not a filmophile, but I watched some 1960’s and 1970’s movies over the past years and I’ve noticed more sexual innuendoes in those films than in today’s films. The 80’s films also had many more frontal nudity shots of women than today. The films from the 60’s also didn’t show blood or actual killings, only suggestions of killing or just actors ‘dying’ with a bright red splotch on their shirt, nothing more.
From what I’ve seen—sex and nudity has become so less frequent, to the point where I was shocked to see it in Blue Valentine. Violence, on the other hand, has become 3 hours of gratuitous blood and gore blockbusters and ‘gore porn’ has been invented.
Honestly, bring back the nudity and sex. It’s a hell of a lot healthier than chopping people’s heads off to watch blood spurt.

Berserker's avatar

@linguaphile A lot of older violence and gore, especially from the seventies, is incredibly disturbing.

Damn good point though, I don’t see that much realistic sex stuff in modern works, at least not the mainstream.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Could there be a relationship between the shift in media and the rapid growth of Evangelism in recent years?

linguaphile's avatar

@Symbeline Like I said, I wasn’t 100% sure- I’m going by what I’ve seen.
Buuuut, now that I think about it… I remember some movie on the AMC Channel where a cowboy got mad at his lady for talking back to him and slapped the holyeffinhell out of her and she fell into his arms, sobbing and kissing him. Now, that was disturbing.

I wonder if the type of violence that we accept changes over the decades. I doubt any clear-thinking female in this day and age will tolerate a movie showing a woman taking abuse like that (Bachman, Coulter and Schlesinger don’t count) but we tolerate “purposeful” rape scenes like in Dragon Tattoo and gore.

Berserker's avatar

@linguaphile It probbaly goes with the current culture I guess, indeed. Rape and gore have always existed in entertainment though, as has cussing, such as it was in whatever period. Ever read any Victorian vampire stories? Damn. Stereotypes exist all the time, I just like to think most of us are smart enough to not be taken in by what is shown or otherwise presented. Which is why it bothers me that some do, when you consider real life, you know? I wonder what some people’s takes on such issues were at least 30 years ago and longer.

linguaphile's avatar

@Symbeline From what I understand, there’s even Paleolithic erotica and paintings of violence, so it’s definitely nothing new. Interesting though that those two have existed from the earliest times—the depiction of creation and destruction, actually. Umm….

Berserker's avatar

@linguaphile Yeah dude. Some of the most badass shit we got are old paintings and creepy opera songs. I guess it’s a human thing…the shape changes, but the idea remains the same. Werewolves aren’t scary now, but they may have been 200 years ago, so to speak. Now we got burly dudes with hockey masks and spaceships shaped like penises. Also, Shakespeare is a freak. :D

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

just as much against the violence as the sex. To say the violence flies above the radar because people of faith acquiesced to it is like trying to say because Jesus overturned the table of the money changers at the temple we can have people ventilated with assault weapons and it is all good.

The reason for the supposed repugnancy against sex is not the church or people of faith, maybe some, but far from most, it is because of the disingenuous way the non-faith society handles it. As @MRSHINYSHOES In comparison to other societies around the world, we are not as “grown-up” as we think we are. when it comes to how Yankees handle sex. It is indeed rather comical as it is hypocritical. Sex is used to sell more then 70% we see, from burgers, gum, breath mints, hair products, scents, shades, food, as well as the ubiquitous male enhancement/performance products. Sex is the vehicle and goal of most movies and TV shows. It is billed as the greatest show on earth, the wildest rollercoaster ride, topped with a massive lotto win your mind cannot comprehend. However, everyone is suppose to know you are getting it, _because that makes you cool and desirable and not some unattractive geek at home pleasuring yourself, but you can’t be too graphic about it and surely no pictures. Non-faith people do more to try to regulate what type of sex people should have and how they do it. When it comes to sex the US is like a man before the mirror who once he turns from it, forgets what he looks like.

Violence doesn’t take a positive emotion, it is not giving kudos to those the violence is directed towards. With sex the other person that the sex is done with is suppose to be getting something from it as well. In violence the pleasure is all to the victor, the one who chopped off the other guys hand or the woman who bitch slapped her rival and then stuffer her face in the punch bowl; it is a one-sided affair. Violence isn’t usually seen as a private affair done with out clothes or uncovered private parts. In spite everyone’s appetite for sex and the chase after it, it is said to be healthy and honest but because we really don’t want to address young adults we chose to pigeon hold as kids way after the puberty ship as sailed society was never an honest broker with it. It is more acceptable to have a young character in a movie commit a heinous murder than be in a love scene, even if the story dictate it as in The Lover, Lolita, or The Crush. It is the secular end of society that does more in trying to dictate what sex is OK, and which is not. American society is so horrified and pedophobic any hint that a child or a held as child young adult can or has any desire to be intimate with a person past 18 jest gives people the jeebie jeebies. It is society, not the church, going around saying “this type of sex is OK, that type is not OK”, even when one might be more traditional than the one they nod to or at least won’t oppose. Don’t try to tell me eating brownies are bad when you are scarfing down a whole bag of cookies. The US need to just get real as to what kind of sexual nation it wants to be since it has pretty much made up its mind to be that.

Nullo's avatar

Sex is private, violence less so. Even with violence, it’s better not to be too graphic.

ETpro's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I’m really not up to arguing it tonight, but I think that discourse lives up to your screen name admirably.



@Hypocrisy_Central hit it on the nail with his last paragraph. Violence is always one-sided to the victor, the perpetrator, and it is usually not a private affair. Sex is mutual and is a private affair to be kept under wraps. That’s why when it comes to sex, most people don’ find it acceptable, whereas violence can be easily discussed, analyzed, and revealed.

Ron_C's avatar

I think that you can thank our predecessors like the Puritans and the undo respect this nation affords to religion. Remember how “horrified” people were about Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” and Bill Clinton’s White House blow job? That is strictly manufactured hysteria by the same people that have been censoring television and radio. They are guided by their religious conviction. The same goes for real violence like “Kill Bill” which can be shown at prime time with only minor warnings. Why should a religion that annually celebrates the torture and murder of its founder be the arbiter of television content? The whole system is sick and juvenile but is what we are stuck with because we have not matured even after 200 years as a nation.

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