“The number of films classified 18 for sex has plummeted. We explore how studio pressure, #MeToo nerves and the proliferation of porn created a new puritanism.”
“Perhaps we’re merely seeing a compartmentalising of sexually explicit material versus everyday film … perhaps in the foreseeable future, mainstream cinema will have no need for sex scenes at all.”
This article is written from a British perspective. From this side of the Atlantic, I see it this way: Movies have gone almost totally after mass audiences. The erotic has moved to TV. When we started doing our annual “Top Nude Scene” polls, the winners were almost all from films. Over the course of twenty years, the balance has shifted, gradually but steadily, through evolution rather than revolution, until almost all of the winners are from TV shows.
Nudity is what I know, and I can support the paragraph above with facts, but I believe that many other characteristics of cinema have moved over to TV as well, experimentation and art being paramount among them. A side effect of the latest trend in cinema, the widening gap between art and business, is that the Oscar broadcast has lost popularity steadily, because the winners – the “best” films – are so often films that few have seen, while the audience’s favorite movies are nowhere in sight. It’s just not like that on TV. The award-winning shows – theoretically the best shows – are also highly popular shows.
You can see the current state of cinema as well as I can: There are popular movies and there are Oscar winners, and their paths seldom cross. The seats are filled by spectacle, not thoughtful drama. The studios see that and market accordingly. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that Disney keeps acquiring a bigger share of the industry. They are a studio driven by products with mass audience appeal. This is not a rap on them. They are great at what they do, and they are a public corporation, so they should be placing their money into projects that provide a maximum return on their investment. If I were still in the consulting business, I would tell them to stay the course.
It’s not just the Disney profit motive that drives the current trend. All the studios have learned how to pair their products with the proper delivery system. Spectacles are the films best suited for a theater. You can even argue that they need the theater, because they are the types of films where the big screen adds to the experience. Let’s face it, Death of a Salesman is just as good on a TV screen, or maybe even a cell phone screen, as it would be in a high-tech theater, but you need the big screen to get the best experience out of Star Wars or The Avengers.
So it’s all good. I suppose everything is as it should be, or at least moving in that direction.
But I, and a lot of people like me, have abandoned the theaters because I’m not interested in comic book stories, space adventures, cartoons, gimmicky remakes and the occasional PG-rated rom-com. It’s not that I have BETTER taste. I don’t. I’m not looking for MacFuckingBeth. I love crap. It’s just that I love OTHER crap, like raunchy comedies and biopics, and those things play out just fine on my computer screen.