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January 12, 2010

Newsflash: Sex Doesn't Sell!

That's the conclusion of a psychology journal that studied more than 900 films

"Although it is commonly assumed that “sex sells” in mainstream cinema, recent research indicates a far more ambiguous relation between strong sexual content and financial performance."

So goes the first line of the abstract for a new article in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.

"All in all, it appears that sex may neither sell nor impress. This null effect might suggest most cinematic sex is in fact gratuitous," write the authors. "It is manifest that anyone who argues that sex sells or impresses must be put on notice."

"Initially, I assumed that more sex would equal higher box office, since everyone said 'sex sells' and I believed them," researcher Anemone Cerridwen told The Vancouver Sun. After analyzing the data, Cerridwen questions why so many scripts are so heavy on sex.

"It makes you wonder why it's there at all," she says.

Indeed. And it helps to quantify what is really meant by the word "gratuitous." It just ain't necessary.

(Hat tip to Phil Cooke.)


Is "news flash" ever used non-ironically anymore?

But that just begs the question... if sex doesn't sell, why do we think it does?