Kate (mskatej) wrote,

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Eroticism in film and television

Fangirl disclaimer: I am not referring here to scenes that fangirl of Hot Guy A adores and finds super hot, just because Hot Guy A gets his kit off and shows a little tongue.

What I mean by eroticism: deliberately sexually arousing scenes in film or television.

First off, let’s assume that in television, when two characters flirt or kiss in a sexual way (as opposed to, say, a romantic way) or when they fool around, or when they actually have sex, the writers/directors of the scene are attempting to arouse us. Let’s assume that if that’s not their intention, they have a screw loose. Personally, I don’t see the point in “doing sex” in television, film or fiction, if your intention is not to (at least in part) arouse the audience. (Unless it’s for comedic purposes of course. Or if it’s to horrify us. But that’s a post for another day/person.)

It’s a difficult thing to pull off, because there are so many factors involved, and all of them have to work. The actors need to have chemistry with each other. More importantly, the characters need to have chemistry with each other, and that all comes down to the way they’ve been written, their history together, and how the actors play them. The scene itself needs to be well written, in terms of pacing (there needs to be some kind of build up), and believability (a big one. If we don’t buy it, it’ll leave us cold), as well as dialogue and story. Music, lighting, sound, cinematography and direction also matter. If it doesn’t look or sound right, we won’t be able to suspend our disbelief.

The actors need to appear to get turned on and to stay turned on. We should feel the arousal the characters are feeling, not just be aroused by them because we’re attracted to them.

Believe it or not, the physical attractiveness of the actors is not particularly important; I’ve been turned on by scenes that starred actors I was not remotely attracted to, just because everything else was done right. If the characters appear to genuinely want each other the scene will work.

Think of the hottest fanfic you’ve read. Discard the kinkfic that gets you off because of your weird fetishes, and think of the truly great, well written smut out there. I bet it all has one thing in common: the characters in the scene are extremely turned on (hopefully both of them but not necessarily). Am I right?

Emotions and arousal that we can relate to are the most vital ingredients. If the characters aren’t feeling it we’re not going to feel it.

A couple of truly remarkable erotic scenes in television and cinema spring to mind; I consider these the best of the best. Your mileage may vary, especially if you’re particularly disgusted by one of the characters/actors or by the pairing itself, but trust me, these scenes are seriously hot.

  • Buffy and Spike having sex for the first time in a building that’s falling down around them, in the season 6 episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, Smashed. That was done as well as any fanfic I’ve read and believe me, that’s the highest compliment I can give. The intensity of the emotions involved, the wrongness of it, the complete and utter desperation to connect in the most violent then carnal way, the extraordinary chemistry between Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters, the years of build up to the moment… It’s artistically sublime and the building crumbling around them as they get lost in each other is a stunningly perfect metaphor for their relationship and what was to come of it. That it’s relatively explicit does not hurt at all either. (Wouldn’t it be nice to see some thrusting in “Smallville”… *daydreams*)

  • The spanking scene from one of my all time favourite movies, “Secretary”, is one of the sexiest things I’ve ever seen in film. Whether spanking floats your boat or not doesn’t really matter; the principles still apply: the characters, who are very attracted to each other, are unable or unwilling to act on their attraction because of the nature of their relationship (boss-employee). Edward Grey is wound up so tightly with sexual frustration and he expresses that through anger, shouting at Lee and insulting her, then finally “punishing” her. He gets increasingly turned on as he spanks her, but the kicker is…so does she. Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader play it perfectly. We see Lee’s expression change slowly from horror to bliss as he approaches orgasm behind her, his spanking becoming faster and harder until he stops, grabs her, and comes in his pants. It’s original, it’s funny, it’s discomforting, it’s deeply emotional, it's peculiarly romantic, it’s fantastically erotic.

  • Shows like “Queer as Folk” and “The L Word” are adept at regularly producing erotic sex scenes, and a special mention must go to “Battlestar Galactica”, which is so good at it I wish there was sex in every episode.

    There are others of course, and please feel free to tell me all about your favourite sex scenes in the comments, the more detail the better. But like I say, not that many directors (or writers) understand how to do it well, so it’s not something you see a lot of, unfortunately.


    Muchos thanks to girlmostlikely for the beta. ♥
    Tags: film, meta, tv: general
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