We often think of ads using sex appeal to sell clothes, drinks, shoes and so much more. But in watching the slasher films for my presentation i realized that a lot of sex appeal is used to gain a bigger audience. When I watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre(1974) and its remake from(2003), I saw this more clear then ever. In the images below we see Pam from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, approaching leatherfaces home where she will soon meet her death. Although it is a very tense moment i couldn’t help but look over to my male companion watching the film and notice his goo goo eyes as we see a shot of her short shorts and backless shirt. This even more so when we were watching the remake to Texas Chainsaw Massacre where Jessica Biel is running around escaping death in her white wet t-shirt, which manages to stay neatly tied around her waist showing her flat stomach throughout the whole film. But in the image below we see a omage to the original with Erin approaching the house and another shot of her backside and leather faces home in the background, truly a sex appeal omage to the previous film.I think the directors were clever in their approach to not only appeal to their young audiences through gruesome, gorey techniques but also to appeal to them through sex. I think this is used as often as possible in most films, even though movies have become alot more complex than the simple slasher movies, they still contain the “hot” girl running away from the killer, or a very muscular model looking young man who is supposed to be the “guy next door.” All i can say about this is that it’s a great technique to gain audiences of all ages who not only want the protagonist to survive but to also move next door to them.

Obviously the backless shirt and the view up the short shorts is necessary

This looks familiar

20 thoughts on “SEX SELLS

  1. This is a very entertaining post. I agree with your main point in this post. Sex does sell and it really is a way to bring people to the theaters. Another trend that we have seen, especially in slasher films, is the increasing amount of blood and gore in movies. Along with sex, violence is another way to attract audiences. Some may think of this as a genius technique but where do the filmmakers cross the line? I am sure we have all seen movies where there is just way too much violence or sex and it takes away from the movie rather than make it more entertaining.

  2. I agree sex is usually used to sell everything including films. If you think about it for most movie commercials there is usually a section dedicated to showing the audience the sexual content of the movie. If the movie has a sex scene, the commercial makes sure the audience is aware of this. If the movie doesn’t have a sex scene a clip from the closest thing to it is shown, whether its a girl in tight leather pants hoping on a motorcycle or a just a girl in revealing clothing doing something as simple as walking down the block. This is done for movies of all ratings. The movie that comes to my mind first is transformers 2 which seemed to successfully sell the movie through Megan Fox, and prove that sex really does sell.

  3. yeah i think violence has increased as years go on just as much as sex. And Gilbert i honestly think any movie Megan Fox is in is sold through sex, she’s even stated she’s a horrible actress but she loves being the sex symbol in movies. Its sad but it bring audiences in time after time.

  4. Ok I admit, the title of this post is eye-catching. I think sex is a “trend” that really never goes away. It’s getting less and less taboo in society but not to the point where it fades into the background. Do people watch slasher films for the guts and gore? Or do they watch it to see beautiful people get killed nowadays?

  5. I believe its both, people watch slasher films for the guts and gore and to see the pretty people on the screen get killed. People are drawn to pretty things, and even though they might know the person in the movie is going to die, there are more probabilities they will keep watching if it is a pretty girl showing her belly than an ugly girl showing no skin at all.

  6. So to answer your question Jenny i think its definitely a mix of both things. I think although sex is as you say “less taboo” it is still something forbidden to be seen by others, thats why porn is still frowned upon even though i think most people watch it, and death and gore is something we dont get to see,or hope to see, in our everyday real lives, but both of these subjects are almost forbidden in a way, which entices us to go see these movies where we can live through the lives of others, and judge or indulge in what happens to them.And as giomar states i do think its mainly about us wanting to view this “fake” life through the eyes of pretty people, not ugly people.And i think we like to see beautiful people getting killed for two reasons, one because we get to see these faces we are attracted to living these normal lives we can relate to which brings more of a thrill when their lives are in peril, but i think we also like to watch these beautiful people be killed because we as a whole are a very envious species, so like when we see a girl whos showing way too much we’re quick to judge and be envious of her(im talking as a girl now, cuz obviously a guy wouldn’t feel the same, but im guessing they do when they see other guys who are good looking) a way you feel, in a sick way, better about the envy you feel when the girl is punished. In slasher films the “skanky” girl is often killed off first which helps relieve our envy because we can say “well she’s dead because she was skanky”. But at the same time we’re able to not feel bad after we witness this girl getting killed, because it is all just a movie….thats just my take on it.

  7. I remember watching part of the movie “House of Wax” (2005) and I thought it was terrible. The reason why I was probably drawn to actually attempt to watch it was because Paris Hilton was in it. She was still very popular in 2005 but she was definitely out of place in that movie. Her presence in the movie definitely attracted people to go watch the movie although most of them were sorely disappointed with her acting and how bad the movie was.

  8. that movie was horrible!!! its funny but some scenes play off of the very real idea that Paris Hilton was in a homemade porn, her boyfriend in the movie alludes to getting oral sex while people in another car are video taping them. We see here clearly how a person through sex can become famous and draw in crowds just because of their sex appeal, NO TALENT NEEDED.

  9. I think this post got the most replies so far, because people saw the title, and thought “Well I certainly have an opinion on that!” Just like I did. I think one answer to Jenny’s question about why we want to see beautiful people get killed is that most of the population is average looking. Isn’t it nice for people to get their revenge on those who got all the looks? They see it as karma’s way of punishing them for their vanity, their success. I certainly do resent the film industry for choosing women primarily based on their looks and not their talent. Can anyone name a REALLY successful Ugly actress?? It would be fun to see some responses.
    Objectification of women on screen is as old as the film industry itself. But LADIES! Isn’t it great that with the rise of equality of the sexes, more and more men are being objectified as well?? I loved Fight Club for its plot, but i certainly enjoyed the testosterone filled fights in the movie (the estrogen guy with boobies was not eye candy). I even liked the scene in “The pacifier” where Vin Diesel reached for the fridge wearing only a towel. Any scene where we see everything but Vin Diesel’s face and he’s not talking with his squeaky voice is great.

  10. I agree that a persons attractiveness plays a key role in his or her success in the film industry. I gave it some thought and the only successful actress that came to mind was the girl who played precious, and even with her it seems like her future success is limited. People are offered roles based on their looks not only in the film industry but all types of media. With films people tend to like a movie better and stay entertained if they have something pleasing to look at throughout the film. In the horror genre especially it seems that people would become more attached to attractive characters and be more likely to root for them to stay alive. Well for me anyway i think if there was an unattractive person playing a major role in a horror film and she ended up dying it wouldnt have the same impact on me as it would if she was attractive.

  11. “Precious” was an amazing act, but she was specifically chosen for her looks. A girl who is ugly on the outside becasue the nasty world around her made her such. But I think that if the actress is ever given another chance to show her talent, she will only be casted for the same kind of role. I think sadly, she has two options in this film industry, get a makeover or play “Precious”.

    • Did you see Gaby Sidbe on Saturday Night Live this week? She was funny, appealing and came off as remarkably talented. I was genuinely surprised by her range and, for the first time, got a sense that she may actually have a good career beyond Precious. At least the prospect is there. Let’s see where she goes.

  12. In response to your earlier question, Maria, here are a few actresses who are not known for their beauty or who aren’t considered traditionally beautiful yet have had successful careers. (Ugly, I don’t know.)

    Glenn Close
    Tilda Swinton
    Oprah Winfrey (see The Color Purple)
    Bea Arthur
    Angela Landsbury
    Rhea Perlman
    Whoopi Goldberg
    Sarah Jessica Parker

    Just a few.

  13. I think that Meryl Streep is not very attractive at all and shes really famous. Also Barbra Streisand. But i guess they can both be seen as sort of pretty to some people. Its pretty bizarre how there are only a scare amount of semi-unattractive women but then if we think of male actors we can think of a large amount who don’t fit the mold.

  14. Prof. Gershovich,

    I know I am selecting a specific you that you mentioned but for the sake of argument…
    I actually did think of Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Monique and also Queen Latifah as rather successful actresses. BUt is there a general characteristic that connects these actresses? What does that fact that they are all African American females say?
    I think that the way that the beauty of an a black woman is perceived in Hollywood is atrocious. Given that the industry is dominated by white men it is perceived that more “white features” an African American woman has, the more “hot ” she is ( i.e. Halle Berry, Tyra Banks). Therefore, these more voluptuous woman that tend not to wear long blond hair extensions do not fit the dictated standard of beauty. Does the typical white filmmaker then begin take talent into account? Because they do not recognize them as a sex object?

    I left out several examples made by Professor Gershovich, because many are older actresses I am not familiar with. However I do think Sarah Jessica Parker is a great example of our time.

  15. I think you are absolutely right, Maria. Lots and lots of critics have commented on the fact that the standard of beauty in Hollywood tends to be an ethnocentric one that privileges small, European features and lighter skin. Angela Bassett is perhaps one example that doesn’t fit. Can we think of others?

  16. I’m sorry but what do any of you think we are here for ? Reproduction p-e-r-i-o-d. Sex doesn’t sell – it is absolutely necessary for life. We are also drawn to it’s opposite – Death. If what your trying to say is that you wish the story telling was as engaging as the sexual imagery & murder scenes try coming up to the level of your own expectations, try your own imaginations for once. The film makers have very little respect for your abilities in this regard as their motive is to make product that returns on the investment. The movies are not the problem – YOU are. One way or another you put up with this mediocre drivel and encourage it.

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