by Joshua Carll
Lights! Camera! Action!… Imagine a world without sex being advertised in the media. It’s kind of hard to imagine, right? What if I told you, that it used to be the norm back in the day. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966) was a good, wholesome TV show in the 60’s. In the show, Dick and his wife, Laura, would go to bed during the show, but not in the same bed. Since the two weren’t married in real life, they slept in two twin sized beds.
Let’s take five and talk about the censorship. This censorship was all thanks to Hollywood, specifically William H. Hays. Hays was president of the “Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America” (MPPDA), which later changed to “Motion Picture Association of America” (MPAA), from 1922 to 1945. This code was strictly enforced in 1934 and made the use of profanity, sex, drugs, and rape, almost impossible to be shown on the silver screen. By the 1950’s, the code began to weaken, so when 1968 came around, the Hays code was considered outdated and replaced by the film rating system G, PG, PG13, R, and NC17.
Take two! Married with Children (1987-1997) was a sitcom that pushed the envelope for it’s time period. Having a promiscuous daughter and a not-so-typical housewife, this TV show made everyday life seem relatable. Later on in the show, Marcy and Steve, who are Al Bundy’s neighbors, end up getting divorced. After the divorce, Marcy remarries a gigolo. The subtle advocation of sex is promoted throughout the show without actually engaging in the acts.
Why is sex so interesting to people? Karrol Jordan, CCC professor of psychology, believes the “interest has always been there, but daring to challenge the status quo, that has changed.” People today talk about risqué things on the air like it’s a normal conversation to have, but back then, you really stepped on some toes with those kinds of topics. “I can remember an episode of the show Good Times, where CBS used viewer discretion advised. It dealt with venereal disease,” Jordan said. Throughout the years, Hollywood’s moral grip has become looser and looser.
Playback those episodes of How I met your Mother (2005-2014). This show pushed past Married with Children by the use of sex outside of marriage and the inappropriate jokes and language on the show. The main character Barney, is portrayed as a misogynist that sleeps around and is proud of his “accomplishments.” The censorship is still there because they do not show them outright having sex, but the scenes elude to the deed being done because the characters are depicted laying in bed together.
After a path for the LGBT community was made from the airing of Modern Family (2009-present), The Fosters (2013-present) focuses an interracial LGBT couple who have adopted kids into their family. Sex isn’t necessarily encouraged during the show, but the forbidden love of Brandon and Callie is evident and heartbreaking throughout the series. They long for each other just like Romeo and Juliet. When the characters actually do engage in sexual acts, ABC doesn’t show it graphically, but it is noted that they are practicing safe sex for the most part.
Let’s take Empire (2015-present) from the top. Making its debut in 2015, Empire shows a lucrative and scandalous side of a music industry. This show is filled with drugs, violence, vulgarity, provocativeness, sex, and complete disregard of the code. The company was based on drug money that Lucious and Cookie made during their thug years, which Cookie then went to jail for. The show starts with Cookie being released from prison and visiting her son Jamal, who is an openly gay black singer with a homophobic father. Lucious is now in a relationship with Anika, but starts cheating on her with Cookie. This dysfunctional family would give Dr. Phil a run for his money.
Sex can easily be seen in the media since the code has been thrown out the window. In the past, Hollywood banned sex in the media, but now they’re pushing it. “Ironically, these changes have to do with Hollywood,” Jordan said. The only way majority of people will be entertained is if sex was added into the mix. The media has gone from good wholesome fun, to explicit sensual behaviors. This is the evolution of sex in the media. Now that’s a wrap folks.