Friday, November 14, 2008

sex, alcohol, smoking - and cinema

Is this a love scene? A murder scene? From an adult film? None of the above.

The picture is from "Constantine", a fantasy film starring Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz. It's obviously a movie for all ages.

Then what explains the revealing water scene, where the beautiful Weisz sports a diaphanous top and disports in a fetching black bra?

Scenes like these are very common in Hollywood movies: even where no hint of nudity is called for, a none-too-subtle suggestion of eroticism is inserted for effect. Weisz is beautiful in any kind of clothes: why exploit her body?

The pressure to reveal (and, incidentally, have sex) is immense in western culture.

"Diseases which half a century ago mostly affected men and female prostitutes are now affecting men and women in roughly equal numbers. STDs affect people in all sections of society, though in Britain the most noticeable increase in numbers of patients is among teenagers(Don MacKean and Brian Jones, "Human and Social Biology", London: John Murray 2004, p 267)."

Incidentally, in this film Constantine is a chain smoker – he had been smoking since he was fifteen – and is now coughing up blood: he is going to die. He lights up in nearly every scene: young boys are known t be influenced by "macho" scenes of men smoking like chimneys. In the end, Constantine pops a chewing gum into his mouth, of course, but kids have seen him puffing in more manly fashion.

Smoking, alcohol and sex are a heady combination for teenagers – and movies help to promote all three.

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