Sex Sells!: The American Media's Journey from Repression to Obsession

Overview


In 1953 when Lucille Ball became pregnant, the censors required the characters on "I Love Lucy" to say only that the wacky redhead was "in the family way"-they feared the word "pregnant" might conjure up, in the minds of viewers, images of a man and woman having sexual intercourse. Now, some fifty years later, from giant billboards featuring nearly nude models in Times Square to Bill Clinton's creative definition of sex to Madonna and Britney's prime-time kiss, sex pervades virtually every aspect of public life,...
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Overview


In 1953 when Lucille Ball became pregnant, the censors required the characters on "I Love Lucy" to say only that the wacky redhead was "in the family way"-they feared the word "pregnant" might conjure up, in the minds of viewers, images of a man and woman having sexual intercourse. Now, some fifty years later, from giant billboards featuring nearly nude models in Times Square to Bill Clinton's creative definition of sex to Madonna and Britney's prime-time kiss, sex pervades virtually every aspect of public life, including the films and television programs we watch, the music we listen to, and the racy ads that bombard us. What happened?Through lively prose and engaging examples, Sex Sells! illuminates this arc from repression to obsession vis-à-vis changing sexual mores during the last five decades. Not only does the author examine how a broad range of media genres have reflected this libidinous journey, but he also shows how the media have played a leading role in propelling the Sexual Revolution. Whether it was the decision by Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown to run a photo of a nude Burt Reynolds in 1972 or the recent success of Showtime's sexually explicit "Queer as Folk," the media have led the charge in bringing sex into the mainstream. Along the way, what the author terms "sexual literacy" has become vital, especially for young media consumers. For Rodger Streitmatter, unlike many critics, believes that much of the media's sexual content is beneficial, as it gives parents and educators a jumping-off point from which to discuss such matters as AIDS, sexual identity, and sexual mores. In this age of continuing sexual liberation, such a viewpoint seems especially important and timely.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813342481
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 9/20/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author


Rodger Streitmatter is a professor of communications at American University. A former reporter for the Roanoke (Virginia) Times & World News, he is the author of five previous books. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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Table of Contents

The 1950s : no sex, please, we're American
1 The pill and the media 1
2 Playboy magazine 15
3 James Bond 29
4 Jim Morrison of the Doors 43
5 All in the family 57
6 Cosmopolitan magazine 67
7 Donahue 78
8 Three's company 90
9 Movies of the 1980s 103
10 American advertising 115
11 Madonna 126
12 The gay nineties 140
13 The black nineties 154
14 Semen on the front page 168
15 Youth media 182
16 Paying for sex (on cable) 196
17 Cyberporn 210
18 Reality television 222
"Sexual literacy" : understanding the media's sexual messages 234
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2005

    Sex Sells! And very well....

    I recently chose this book for an English paper in my Comp II class. Had I never had that assignment, I never would have read the book and I would have missed a lot. Streitmatter does an excellent job at taking an issue, sex in the media, that is generally looked down upon, and giving it a positive outlook. This book focuses on Americas exceptance and openess of sexuality, and the steps that took them there. From topics such as birth control, so sex in music and The Doors, and from Cosmo to Reality TV. Streitmatter covers them in a very educational way. All these things influenced what the media is today.

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