Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Does sex sell movies? Uh, not really

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

December 29, 2009 1:39 p.m. EST
(CNN) -- When it comes to movies, it may be that sex doesn't sell.

A recent study concluded that nudity and explicit sex scenes don't translate to success for major motion pictures.

"Sex Doesn't Sell -- nor Impress! Content, Box Office, Critics, and Awards in Mainstream Cinema" examined more than 900 films released between 2001 and 2005.

The study found that, contrary to popular belief, sex and nudity failed to positively affect a film's popularity among viewers or critics and did not guarantee big box office receipts.

One of the study's co-authors, Dean Keith Simonton, said theirs was the largest sample of its kind used for film research. The results surprised him, he said.

"Sex did not sell, whether in the domestic or international box office, and even after controlling for MPAA rating," said Simonton, who is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. "In other words, even among R movies, less graphic sex is better."

The top-grossing films in the study included movies like "Shrek 2;" "Spider-Man;" "Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith" and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," all of which contained mostly minor to mild sex and/or nudity.

Simonton said the research went beyond others in that it also examined other forms of "objectionable" material that might earn a film an R rating including violence.

The study was prompted by an experience almost a decade ago of its co-author, Anemone Cerridwen.

Cerridwen had been taking acting classes and increasingly became uncomfortable with some of the sexualized content she was encountering. That led her to consider the work experiences of film actresses and the pursuit of data about the lucrativeness of sex in movies.

"I assumed sex sold, and wanted to know by how much," Cerridwen said. "I braced myself for the worst, and got quite the surprise."

Craig Detweiler, director of the Center for Entertainment, Media and Culture at Pepperdine University, said the study's findings reflect the culture's post-sexual revolution sensibilities.

"Nothing is as shocking anymore," Detweiler said. "You can see it in Britney Spears' kiss with Madonna and Janet Jackson's Super Bowl performance. Things that were a big controversy among some, the next generation kind of yawned at it."

Rather, Detweiler said, he has seen among his students that the new form of rebellion against the older generation includes "not doing drugs, not sleeping around and not getting divorced." That might explain the popularity of some of the Jane Austen films and movies like the "Twilight" series, he said.

"Those stories are really about sexual separation," he said. "They are all about wooing, not winning."

Tom Jacobs, staff writer for the academic research periodical Miller-McCune, wrote about the study and said there has long been the belief that the many young males who make up movie audiences are enthralled by female nudity.

"These researchers really put that belief to the test and crunched the numbers," Jacob said. "What I took from the study is that a hint of sex is perhaps more enticing than out-and-out nudity."

The study's authors are hopeful that their findings will have some impact on moviemaking.

Simonton said he has had one inquiry from a researcher at a major studio that he declined to name, though he has no idea if the studio plans on acting on the data.

Cerridwen said she thinks movies continue to be influential on the public and believes their study could also have an influence, especially if other academics pick up the torch and continue the research. Until then, she hopes Hollywood takes notice.

"I do believe that there are a fair number of people in the film industry who want to make better films, and this study may give them some ammunition," she said. "I know that Hollywood has been trying to make more family-friendly films for a while (since the '90s) and it seems to be helping ticket sales, so my guess is that this research would complement that."
So the actual act of sex is not what sells, its partial nudity and the idea of fantastic sex that sells. Makes sense to me. What do you think?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

April will be here before you know it

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) and NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center) just announced that their SAAM materials for 2010 are currently available on-line. These are excellent resources and they are free -- just in time for the holidays!

Check it out and pass it on.

The NSVRC is pleased to announce new resources for the 2010 Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaign! The 2010 theme is “Prevent Sexual Violence…on our campuses” and we have provided a variety of materials to assist you in planning your SAAM activities and events, both on and off campus. All materials are available online at There you will find all the campaign materials for 2010 and materials from previous years and other organizations, arranged in categories for ease of use. If you would prefer to receive the materials on CD, please contact the NSVRC at 877-739-3895, ext. 118, or email Lauren Sogor, Prevention Campaign Specialist, at

Want more free stuff? You can go to Unite for Change for campaign ideas and educational  resources. If you would like help choosing an awareness or prevention project that will work best for your campus communnity or creating a one of a kind program perfect for your campus just shoot us an e-mail at we are more than happy to help.

Monday, December 07, 2009


People always ask us how long we’ve known each other and how we met. This past year Becca and I realized that we have been friends longer than some of the students we work with have been born. That’s depressing and wonderful all in one. Anyhow the story of how Kelly and Becca came to be goes a little something like this…

In January of 1990 the World Wide Web did not exist yet. Cell phones were mostly for doctors, attorneys and Zack Morris. We were still watching the Cosby Show on Thursday nights and thanks to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure everyone was saying "dude" and most girls we knew were crazy for a man twice their age, Patrick Swayze of Dirty Dancing fame. Everyone was begging Mc Hammer, Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, Tone Loc was gett'n funky with the Cold Medina and Vanilla Ice, was busy rolling in his 5.0. All the cool kids were sporting labels like Guess, Z Cavarichi and The Limited. Hair was tall and crunchy thanks to mass amounts of aerosol hair spray, this is likely about the same time scientists started to become concerned with the condition of the ozone. This is also the time that a twist of fate brought two strangers together that now almost 20 years later could no not imagine life without the other.

Kelly was the new kid on the block.

In the 9th grade I transferred high schools half way through the year. I knew one person in the entire school, who I was relying on to show me around, introduce me to new friends, save me a seat in the cafeteria and all the other important stuff that comes with attempting to fit in. On my first day at Pinellas Park High School I was excited about a fresh start but mostly nervous about being noticed as the “new girl.” On Monday morning, I was working my way down the hallway feeling pretty confident when suddenly I was distracted by the loudest voice I had ever heard. It was this girl talking to a group of students who appeared to be the “popular crowd.” She had her finger pointing, her neck rolling and she was flipping her hair too; this girl was really working it out. I walked by trying not to stare and the girl doing all the talking walked towards me, threw her arm around me and said, “Hey, you’re Kelly! Great hair, nice pants, love the shoes, oh I’m Becca it’s great to meet you. I’m going to need your class schedule to coordinate note passing and locker meetings. My locker’s down in the senior section. I have connections and I figure we can share lockers cause who knows where they’re going to put you. Oh my God, I can’t believe I didn’t tell you this first Kelly, I hear that Mike Winters is hot for you already! Is that exciting or what? Dude, lets walk.”

Lots of information, I know, but what’s even more impressive is that I’m pretty certain she got everything out in one breath. I was overwhelmed and honestly a little scared but mostly happy about meeting a new friend. I handed Becca my schedule, she grabbed me by the arm and started guiding me down the hallway. About two seconds later she screamed, “Awesome, we totally have third period together, the class is kind of boring but at least we’ll be together.” We stopped outside of a classroom doorway that I assumed was our Language Arts class. Becca introduced me to a couple kids as they were walking in and we hung out until about ten seconds before the bell rang. So far, the only thing I could see that I had in common with Becca was teased bangs that defied gravity.

Once we got into the classroom Becca said hello to the girl sitting in the desk next to her, paid her a couple of quick compliments and then asked if she would switch seats with me so that we could sit together since I was new and all. The girl did not seem to mind and so I sat next to my new friend Becca who clearly knew how to make things happen. She continued to inform me of all the clubs and organizations I had to join, where to sit in the cafeteria, how to get out of certain classes a little early and most importantly, she told me all about her new boyfriend. Even though it had only been 3 days, she was sure he was “the one.” She started talking about plans for the weekend as the teacher was walking towards the front of the classroom. Class began and I finally had a moment to take a deep breath and relax a little bit. A few minutes into third period Language Arts with Mr. Buchus I started thinking that my first day at PPHS wasn’t going to be that bad.

Meeting that day remains one of the most pivotal moments in our lives. We both always wanted a sister and here we found one in each other, the fact that we wore the same size shoes was merely a bonus. From that moment on we grew up together, we have shared all of life’s moments both big and small. What makes our friendship so special besides the fact that we can finish each others sentences is that without hesitation the good, the bad and everything in between we will always be there for one another. Our friendship is truly a matter of two souls meeting and realizing that we are actually family.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

"Lived loudly, loved fully, slept soundly."

I love unconventional magazines, the ones who proudly divert from the herd, Ode mag is one I dig. So I did as any networked gal (or guy) would do I joined the FB fan page. There I found this neat little ditty now cut and pasted below.

Writing your life story in six words or less.

I dug it, was moved by it and for good measure I have included mine both here and in the title.

I would love for you to do the same.

"Lived loudly, loved fully, slept soundly."




Michael Sean Symonds, an avid Ode reader, posted this question to the Ode Exchange  Six word memoir

If had to write the story of your life as it was, is and as you hope it to be, in six words or less what would you say? What words, impulses, visions, themes, experiences, thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, dreams, desires, losses, hurts, perceptions, fears, and associations would you express within those few words or sentence? What unspoken words would be shared? What would be denied or implied in the gaps between those words and thoughts?

Here are a couple of my favorites that people came up with:

Everything happens just at it should

Enjoyable ride, still learning to steer

Intellectual gypsy, tired of peeling onions

There was love around every corner

Lived, loved, lost, learned, loved again

Big hair, big heart, big hurry

What's your six word memoir

Thursday, December 03, 2009

"The Journey" unfolded

Sabrina shared the article below and video about Emma Thompson’s interactive art exhibit on Trafficking with me earlier this week noting the powerful images and suggesting it would be a good post for the blog (thanks Bina!). I’ve watched the piece several times and am amazed at the way the artists are able to bring life to these horrific stories of sex trafficking without losing the most powerful message, for me anyway and that message is hope.

If you have 5 minutes please watch the video of Emma Thompson who walks viewers through her brilliant project which shares a young woman’s personal story of sex trafficking.

Emma Thompson’s ‘Journey’ Exhibit Spotlights Sex Trafficking
Huffington Post 11/9/09

Two-time Academy Award-winning British actress Emma Thompson is focusing her attention on the issue of human trafficking of women and young girls by co-curating an interactive New York City art exhibit titled Journey.

In an interview with "Good Morning America," Thompson reveals that she got involved with the cause when she realized that trafficking wasn't just an international occurrence. She discovered it was a local phenomenon happening at a massage parlor down the street from her house. The aim of 'Journey' is to emphasize that prostitution in slavery and commercial sex is happens closer to home than many think -- sometimes literally around the corner.

Thompson remarks that in many ways, human trafficking is much easier to commit than dealing with drugs or weapons: "You can make $150,000 from one girl in a year...because moving people around the place is easier than moving guns around."

She explains that girls and women were often forced into the sex trade by a male relative or family friend who lured them out of the country with job offers. This was the case of Elena, a Moldovan girl who Thompson encountered in 2006 through her work with the Helen Bamber Foundation, an organization that helps abuse victims. Elena was led to the United Kingdom with the promise of a job as a receptionist, but was forced into the sex trade at age 19 after her passport was taken away once she entered the country.

It was partly due to her conversations with Elena that Thompson was moved to take on this project. The art exhibit uses seven shipping containers to chronicle the seven stages of a trafficked woman's experience. Thompson hopes that the exhibit helps people understand the plight of those forced to work in human trafficking, which numbers about 2.5 million individuals at any one time, according to the International Labor Organization.