Yes, Virginia. Sex Sells.
For those who argue that people aren't influenced by the movies they watch, there's an interesting nugget in the July 23 issue of The New York Times. In an article about the Web site MrSkin.com, reporter Andrew Adam Newman wrote: “In the movie Knocked Up, the character played by Seth Rogen has a get-rich scheme to start a Web site that features
“What's bad news for the movie's protagonist turns out to be good news for Mr. Skin, an actual site, which saw a 35 percent bump in new visitors in June, when the movie was released.”
People are influenced by what they see and hear in the media after all. And with the help of the fluffy feature in The New York Times, MrSkin's traffic is sure to go up even more.
MrSkin.com claims to be a movie review site, not a porn site. But the only movies it “reviews” are those containing female nudity. The site has been operational since 1999 and now employs almost 40 people. The majority owner of the site, according to the Times story, appears “frequently on radio shows….to highlight the naughty bits on new theatrical and DVD releases.”
The Times also reports that the site contains more than 175,000 revealing pictures and drew 2.9 million visitors in June. It is a subscription site with 98.4 percent of the membership being men.
What is interesting about the article is the hypocrisy of the site's majority owner, Jim McBride, who likes the term “chief sexecutive officer” to describe himself, and the lack of journalistic grit to confront it. Consider these quotes, all contained in the Times story.
“We don't care about cinematography or great acting or anything like that …we're concerned about the nudity — who's naked, and what they show.”
“The movie companies aren't stupid. I'm a guest on radio shows at least 300 times a year as the expert on celebrity nudity in film. If I'm on the radio talking about a movie like Ask the Dust, and telling guys, 'You've got to check it out: Salma Hayek has a full-frontal at the 33-minute mark,' it's going to make guys want to rent or buy the movie.”
“I'm sure there are many men checking (the site) out only at work versus worrying about their wife seeing them view it at home. … I see '.gov' and '.edus' all the time … But it is an R-rated site, not a porn site, so hopefully men aren't too embarrassed to tell their wives.”
Here comes the disconnect. After spending all those words describing why his Web site isn't porn, the story concludes with McBride describing the dedication he wrote to his daughter in his first book: “I dread the day you figure out what Daddy actually does for a living.”
What does it say about a person who dreads the day their child finds out about their job? What does it say about a reporter who doesn't follow up on that stupefying hypocrisy?
It seems that Newman is really more interested in promoting the site and celebrating the end run McBride's company has made around the issue of pornography.
But what happens when a child is online and wants to look up movie reviews? Or what happens when there is a homework assignment that requires research on “skin” and a child Googles that word? Even if a parent has set up parental blocks and filters on the family computer, it is quite likely that MrSkin.com would not be flagged. Because it is a “movie review site,” not a porn site, after all.
The sexualization of American culture is rampant and is driven largely by media in all its forms: movies, TV, music, advertising, magazines, and the Internet. In its latest Eye on Culture report, the Culture and Media Institute examines the dangers of mainstreaming pornography. And make no mistake that is just what MrSkin.com is doing. With help from The New York Times.