sex messages absent from films
By Deborah Condon
The most popular movies of the last 20 years have
failed to provide safe sex messages, a new study
has found. Furthermore the depiction of illicit
drug use in the same movies has tended to be positive.
A team of Australian researchers analysed the portrayal
of sex and drug use in the most popular movies of
the last two decades. This was based on the Internet
Movie Database list of the top 200 movies of all
Films released or set prior to the era of HIV (pre-1983)
were not included. Animated films, PG films and
films not about humans were also excluded. This
left 87 movies to be reviewed. The films were observed
based on sexual activity, sexually transmitted disease
(STD) prevention, birth control measures and drug
use. And consequences that were discussed or depicted
were also recorded.
Of the movies reviewed, the researchers recorded
53 sex episodes. However only one film - Pretty
Woman (1990) - made any suggestion of condom use.
In fact, this was the only reference to any form
of birth control in all 87 movies. The researchers
observed no depictions of important consequences
of unprotected sex, such as unwanted pregnancies,
HIV or others STDs.
Films with high amounts of sex included American
Pie 2 (2001), which included seven episodes of sex
with new partners, but with no references to birth
control or potential consequences. While the use
of cannabis and other non-injected illicit drugs
were depicted less often than alcohol intoxication,
the portrayal of these drugs tended to be positive
'and without negative consequences'. There were
no episodes of injected drug use recorded.
"Sex depictions in popular movies of the last two
decades lacked safe sex messages. Drug use, though
infrequent, tended to be depicted positively. The
social norm being presented is concerning, given
the HIV and illicit drug pandemics", the researchers
said. Details of this study are published in the
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.