The Media’s Hunger for Sex & Sensationalism
In the chase for profits mass culture is increasingly
devoted to the private lives of public people.
Magazines by the busload are filled with real and/or
imagined scintillating details of their daily lives.
Many of these high-profile, attention-seeking celebrities
have never demonstrated any significant talent.
It’s their exhibitionism that opens the cash register drawer.
The ‘media of titillation gives us the opportunity to peer
into celebrities’ kitchens or bedroom windows, ogle and then,
in our fantasies, develop part ownership of their lives.
It’s today’s ‘reality’. The modern equivalent of peep-hole sex.
We Love to Be Scandalised
Prurience is defined pejoratively as having an unhealthy
obsession with sexual matters, having lewd thoughts, or
engaging in promiscuous, licentious, or lecherous behaviour.
Prurience being a pathologised activity,
a form of perversion or sickness.
Its strong associations with pornography,
obscenity, ‘peep’ shows and libidinal
gratification can be seen as anti-social,
offensive to common decency, or anathema
to ‘civilised’ Christian sensibilities.
Christianity & Puritanism
In the context of Christianity’s polemic against
pagan sexuality, to be ‘exposed’ indulging in or
perpetrating ‘prurient acts’ in modern western
societies can engender feelings of shame and guilt.
An individual’s own moral conscience, with its checks
and balances, may serve similar ends without
the intervention of outer moral guidance.
Prurience enters our lives through ‘the back door’
or ‘shadow side’ of consciousness. we may then see
those secret and furtive impulses, those libidinal
‘unclean’ thoughts that challenge ‘normal’ moral standards.
This means indiscretions and peccadillos in the public
arena being ‘hushed up’ and ‘swept under the carpet’.
The moral conscience of a society exacerbates
and drives sex problems underground.
Naming & Shaming
We have become a culture intolerant of human frailties,
of generating victims and perpetrators, of ‘blaming,
naming and shaming’ those responsible for breaking
acceptable standards of behaviour.
Let’s remember, no act is immoral in itself,
only in relation to a particular ideology.
Successive governments seem hell-bent on
imposing standards of common decency.
This extends to paternalistic behaviour through
censorship and protection against potentially
corrupting and subversive influences.
Control & Discipline
These so-called ‘corrupting influences’ are detected,
either overtly or covertly, in all walks of life,
most notably where people gather together, act
spontaneously, and are not subject to the usually
prescribed rules and regulations of society.
Regulating exposure to such influences is aimed at
exerting control and discipline, whether on the
streets, in the classroom, the media, the arts,
the entertainment industry or public life generally.