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In movies, sex shouldn’t sell

Rafael RiveroAs I, a lover of film, watched the new “Star Trek: Into Darkness” international trailer, several things caught my eye. First, it was beautiful; second, it was awesome; and third, actress Alice Eve appeared scantily clad for a snippet of it.

With that being said, I would like to focus on that last bit specifically. One would expect that with my male heterosexual leanings, I’d be more than pleased at the opportunity to visually examine a female on screen. But as it turns out, I’d really rather not. I’ll explain why.


This type of activity isn’t strange, frowned upon or even thought of as creepy. On the contrary, everyone knows of the phrase “sex sells.” Not necessarily the act itself, but putting people considered “eye candy” on the screen for all types of folk, no matter their preference, to ogle at tends to work extremely well for selling tickets.

I’ve lost count of how many times I heard someone say “Did you see that X or Y is in that movie? X or Y is soooooooo hot!” Those extra o’s aren’t there for show. They are actually spoken out loud, adding at least one extra syllable to the word. Quickly following that statement, the people will usually decide to go see that movie.

It’s as though the subjective visual aesthetics of one of the cast members lends either credibility or greatness to the film they’re in, which in my experience, is usually not the case. This assumption also leads to a greater problem — most of the time, awful begets awful.

For the purposes of elucidating this point, I will need to pull out the mother of all awful: “Twilight.”

All of the films in the franchise have broken box office records, and for what reason? You guessed it: the male leads. In the first movie, it was Edward. But then Jacob took his shirt off, and the payoff was astounding. While “Twilight” made a paltry $392.6 million, Jacobs’ abs of steel rocketed “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” into space with almost $710 million pulled in at the box office. That’s almost twice as much revenue for one shirtless scene.

It is absolutely appalling that people would pay money to see a movie made from a garbage adapted screenplay, with a garbage cast (except maybe Robert Pattinson) and garbage directors, all because of the sex appeal of the leads. This is especially appalling considering that the box office revenue is used to produce more garbage of the same type in the future.

The worst part is that while franchises like “The Twilight Saga” are raking in an average of $670 million dollars per movie, great films like one of this years’ nominees for the Best Picture Academy Award, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” only make $19.7 million.

This upsets me more than I’d care to admit.

Why did “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” a film with magnificent writing and cinematography (aided by stunning visual effects), only make $47.6 million? Was it because the main cast lacked the looks to push it higher?


Is “Amour,” which captures the love and hardships between two people in their 80s through some of the best drama in years, only worth $19.5 million because of their age?

Why on earth did a film as emotional, gripping and haunting as “Precious,” for which the actress Mo’Nique received a standing ovation upon receiving the award for Best Supporting actress at the 82nd Academy Awards, only make $63.6 million?

It’s because the industry has been led astray.

Instead of appreciating heartfelt and powerful performances, people pay for a shirtless male lead. Instead of being driven to tears of laughter or sadness through clever or heart-wrenching scriptwriting and acting, people pay to have someone pretty to look at display the emotions of a rock while reading from a script written by slamming one’s head against a keyboard. Instead of yearning for the thrill of a good plot and a fleshed-out story, people pay to see an attractive female running in slow motion for no reason.

My hope is that at some point in the near future, when you’re debating which film to pay for, you choice has less to do with human aesthetics and more to do with the story, talent, cinematography, visual effects, film style, director, editing, writing and so on of the film itself. That way, your money can fix a derailed industry and help us look forward to greater films in the future.

Rafael Rivero is a senior Zoology major. His columns appear every other Tuesday in the Collegian. Letters and Feedback can be sent to


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