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UK filmmakers try to forego sex scenes, nudity because of COVID-19

Directors UK encouraged filmmakers to be inspired by classic movies’ portrayal of romance.
Mon Aug 24, 2020 - 12:18 pm EST
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LONDON, England, August 24, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Directors UK, the professional association of screen directors in the United Kingdom, has issued guidance urging filmmakers to forego sex scenes and nudity when creating movies and television shows during the coronavirus crisis.

As an alternative, Directors UK encouraged them to be inspired by classic movies made at a time before nudity and sexual content became ubiquitous.

“Be innovative and come up with new ways to convey sexual desire or intimacy without resorting to conventional tropes,” the 12-page document stated. “You may even find inspiration by revisiting classic films such as It Happened One Night (1934) or Casablanca (1943) – some of the greatest screen romances ever made and all filmed under the Hays Code, which prohibited the depiction of sex on screen. Consider what tools classic works offer for contemporary storytelling.”

The Hays Code, officially called Motion Picture Production Code, was fully enforced from the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s, before being abolished entirely in 1968. It was created mainly by Martin Quigley, a Catholic layman, and Father Daniel A. Lord, a Jesuit priest.

The Hays Code emphasized, “The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld. Pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing.”

“Sex perversion, or any inference to it is forbidden,” the Hays Code stated. Homosexuality, while not mentioned explicitly, was understood to fall under that prohibition.

Adultery, the document pointed out, can sometimes be necessary to tell the story. However, it “must not be explicitly treated, or justified, or presented attractively.”

Similarly, passionate scenes “should not be introduced when not essential to the plot. In general, excessive passion should so be treated that these scenes do not stimulate the lower and baser element.”

Directors UK, in its guidance “Intimacy in the Time of COVID-19,” seemingly admitted that nudity and sex scenes often do not contribute to the story line in any significant way and could easily be replaced.

“The director, writer and producer should review the script together and agree which physical interactions need to occur between performers and decide whether substitutions can be made,” the document suggested.

“Does a physical act need to be shown? If working within a series format, can the intimacy be delayed? The build up to an intimate scene can sometimes be more exciting than the scene itself. Emotional intimacy can be as engaging as physical intimacy.”

“Any decisions made at this stage should be shared with a performer’s agent as early as possible (or with the performer directly if they don’t have an agent), so that performers can be properly briefed about the storytelling approach and able to make an informed decision about whether or not to take the job,” Directors UK emphasized.

One page of the document was dedicated to “ideas for showing intimacy whilst adhering to social distancing rules.” Some suggestions were more explicit than others.

“Perhaps characters could have a video call or respond to simulated phone sex or sexting,” one idea read. “Instead of depicting the intimate scene, have characters say what they will do to each other (which would also easily allow for the inclusion of dialogue [to do] with consent).”

Also, “Characters could be shown fixing their own clothes/re-dressing after the event to indicate what took place (rather than showing it).”

The least explicit alternative to showing sexual content was depicting “the closing of a bedroom door and leave the action to the viewer’s imagination.” Additionally, the guidance suggested considering “a metaphorical alternative, such as objects, silhouettes and shadows, dancing, even the preparation and serving of food and the pleasure of eating it.”

A 2012 study found that sex scenes in movies have a real-life impact. As reported by Fox News, “children who watch features films with sexual content have a tendency to start having sex at a younger age, have more casual sexual partners, and engage in unsafe sexual practices.”

Far from sexual content being restricted to movies rated R, or at least PG-13, it is actually part even of G-rated movies.

“Researchers found that 68 percent of G, 82 percent of PG, and 85 percent of PG-13 rated movies of the 684 movies included in the study contained sexual situations,” Fox News wrote.

The study included passionate kissing in its definition of sexual content. Accordingly, “G-rated movies like ‘The Princess Diaries’ contained 42 seconds of sexually-related material, PG-13 movie ‘Meet Joe Black’ had 170 seconds, while another PG-rated movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ had 78 seconds.”

It is likely that a study based on the same premises, but focusing on movies and television shows released in the last five years, would show an even more dramatic state of affairs.


  coronavirus, movies

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