Caitlin Bowers

The aesthetics of casual sex in ‘Love and Other Drugs’

Caitlin Bowers
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In a November interview with Newsweek Magazine, Edward Zwick revealed his graphic and dirty little secrets on how he was able to direct sex scenes while filming the recently released Love and Other Drugs.

The film, starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhall, depicts the story of Maggie, a young woman struggling with Parkinson’s, and Jamie, an arrogant drug salesman.

You won’t find much more of a synopsis than this. Even the Huffington Post remarked that “it finally ends up being about nothing much at all.”

Aside from the empty plot, the film displays the duo diving into an anything-but-fulfilling physical relationship – no strings attached, or clothes for that matter. The film is riddled with graphic sex scenes, which appear to be Zwick’s primary objective in filming the movie.

In the interview with Newsweek, Zwick educates the public on the art of filming onscreen sex. “Sex is a way of communicating in life. In this movie, sex plays an important role in the narrative arc of the characters – they fall into bed long before they fall into love. That was our guide.”

Zwick’s analysis of sexual relations is more reminiscent of drunken frat parties than real, sustainable, and fulfilling commitments. While dismissing all that “love” stuff, Zwick has brought casual sex to the forefront, upholding it as the primary attribute that brings couples closer together. If sex is a means of communicating in life, then what’s the point of actually talking? That’s just boring.

Then again, discourse doesn’t bring money into the box office like it used to.

Hollywood has attempted to turn casual sex into an aesthetic, like displaying showpieces at a museum. Zwick implied this idea as he discussed the extreme measures taken to show the actors how it’s done. “I finally said we should all take a picture together. I climbed into bed and took my pants off under the covers.”

Some things are just better left unsaid.

So what is it that separates Hollywood sex scenes from porn, other than the fact that the celebrities aren’t actually “doing it”? Don’t porn stars fall into bed before falling in love? Casual sex is certainly their way of communicating and expressing themselves, is it not?

If this is what Zwick and Hollywood have in mind, then there’s nothing to stop pornography from marketing itself as a vehicle for a deeper appreciation of art and beauty.

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