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The Closing of the Erotic (NYT) and What it Says About Society

February 13, 2011

In an article published this past weekend by the New York Times, writer Manohla Dargis reminds us of a kind of anniversary.  It was 50 years ago that Lenny Bruce used to ask why it was obscene to show sex in American movies but not violence.

Not much has changed in 50 years.

It is not accident that the title of the article includes the word “Erotic” rather than “Sexual or Sex”.  According to Webster, the word erotic is defined as:  of, devoted to, or tending to arouse sexual love or desire <erotic art>, strongly marked or affected by sexual desire.  Erotic is about the “dance of love”, the tension of arousal, the spark of desire.  It is more about a glimpse of skin through a sheer fabric than it is about casual nudity.

Have we reached a point, as a society, where we are more comfortable with violence and raw, violent sex acts than we are with intentional or accidental arousal and desire?  And, if we have, what does that say about us as a society?

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