Sex is the word. It’s the name of the activity, or idea, that’s on everyone’s mind. When these three little letters appear in print, people often stop whatever they’re doing, and say, “Hey, what’s going on here?”
The concept of sex is extremely powerful, as the men and women working in modern media are acutely aware. Sex makes us buy and do things we might not have planned. You picked this particular article to read for a reason. Would you like to know why? Three little letters … .
I once heard, during my adolescence, that men think about sex every seven seconds, or thereabouts. That’s a lot of brainpower devoted to the carnal deed. New studies suggest that number might be exaggerated, but still, men think about sex an impressive 19 times a day. They think about sex more often than women do, according to studies, and almost as much as they think about food. If you stop and ponder the implications … hold on … sorry, where were we? I got lost there for a moment, thinking about sex.
Sex literally makes the world go around. It’s how the species endures, at least for the time being. If the day ever comes when science makes the reproductive value of sex obsolete, our sexual lives could very well resemble those of the characters inhabiting Aldous Huxley’s novel Brave New World. Sex could become a tool, employed by the powers that be to distract the masses from issues that matter just as much, if not more. Perhaps we’re already there, at least to some extent.
Sex is more than a mere act. Yes, it’s about procreation and recreation for many, but for others it holds quite a different meaning. Depending on an individual’s life experiences, as well as cultural and religious beliefs, sex can be about the expression or repression of identity, erotic or spiritual love, community, desire, desperation, empowerment, faith, fashion, freedom, guilt, health, isolation, manipulation, money, release, shame, subjugation, survival, trauma and more.
Our minds, and our culture are saturated with sex. We can’t help it. The concept arouses us in so many ways. The cliché ‘sex sells’ exists for a reason. Glance at a newsstand on any given day, and note the number of magazines advertising their annual ‘sex’ issue. Even in publications like this one, articles that manage to slip (sorry for the pun) the word ‘sex,’ ‘naked,’ or perhaps a reference to a sexual act or organ into the title tend to do very well.
Imagine a headline announcing, ‘Riots Continue in the Middle East.’ Now imagine another that reads, ‘Miley Cyrus Slips a Nip.’ Which story, when presented to the general public, will garner more attention? A topless princess, a celebrity affair or a starlet’s wardrobe malfunction will capture the eye, but it often comes at the expense of news that’s more important to our lives.
I admit that I might be tempted to click on a Miley Cyrus nipple piece before I read about widespread rioting. As an avid consumer of global news, it’s hard for me to even tell you why, especially since I’m not that fond of Ms. Cyrus (sorry, Miley) in the first place. Perhaps it’s because of the instant gratification such an article might offer, or the fact that it’s a story I can digest without overworking my brain. More likely than not, it’s probably because of the word nipple, which leads me to breast, which makes me think about naked women, which leads me to sex. Ah, foiled again. Damn you biology.
As online and social media dominate the dissemination of news, and fact-based reporting is ever-increasingly relegated to the past, we might be in store for some Frankenstein-like headlines in the future that mix news, sex, and the whims of a fickle public into a bizarre amalgam, simply in order to get us to read, and generate profit.
‘Miley Cyrus Slips a Nip While Attending Mid East Press Conference’
As ridiculous and unlikely as this headline appears, it probably got your attention. I hope news editors never have to come up with tags that so blatantly pander to our biological curiosities and needs, but you never know what can happen when revenue is at stake. Sex is the word on everyone’s mind, and it seems to find its way into the most unexpected of places.
Read more on news reporting: Trust Me, I’m Lying Chuck Ross interviews with media manipulator/guru Ryan Holiday
A keyboard with a red key image courtesy of Shutterstock