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I should have counted…

… how many times I said the word “sex” during my presentation.  Also, the words “vulnerable” and “um.”

I’ve seldom in my life felt as preachy as I did during my presentation yesterday. I realized later that this is because I feel very strongly about what I was evaluating. Now, instead of continuing to talk about what I compiled within the confines of my Power Point, I’m going to talk about why the erotic side of tragic art (or the tragic side of erotic art) struck such a chord with me to begin with.

First of all, sex is among the elephants in the room that is modern American culture as I see it (and in life as a young American person); it has gigantic presence.  It is, in fact, nearly everywhere.  It is in advertisements for nearly everything.  It is in movies, in television shows, in books aimed at all ages, and in video games.  Yet, for all that it is utilized and all the attention it is given in terms of limelight, sex never seems to be looked at head-on by many Americans.  Discussion about sex in America is a hologram: bright, flashy, and attention-grabbing, whether in popular movies or in politics– and largely without substance.  And, as I said, those who are immersed in American culture and media receive the message of “Sex” from every direction.  Think, for example, of hot-topics in politics during this time leading up to the 2012 presidential election.  What are candidates talking about?  The right of Americans to marry who they love, and the right of women to use birth control. In other words, sex.

But even these supposedly more serious venues tend to make a mockery (or just a muck) of the idea of human intimacy and physical affection, in particular, I think, because Americans like very much to talk about other people’s sex, but not their own.  To say that young Americans receive mixed messages about sex would be a vast understatement; I know this to be true, because I have been a young American.  Sex is casual, fun, normal, and encouraged.  It is also dangerous, fun, defiant, and condemned.  It is a means of comfort and is equated with love, and it is also meant to be reserved only for certain people at certain times in their lives.  Feel guilty for doing it, or  for not doing it; for thinking about it, or for running from it.

It is for all of these reasons and undoubtedly more that sex as a reaction to a difficult experience is relevant and intriguing.  I refer above to the American perspective because it is that to which I am closest, yet sex has always been a hot topic on a human level, and can be seen through multiple lenses throughout time and space.  Again, it is for these reasons that I was caught by the use and discussion of sex in Falling Man and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and why I’d been caught in the past by some of the other works I shared in class — not to mention the highly intriguing inclusion of sexuality in Aaron and Ahmed. 

Now, because I think that it’s a swell song, and because I said that I would, I’m including a link to the video for “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails. Proceed with caution. It’s pretty disturbing.



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