2.7.12 We were standing in the Boston Common by the Park Street subway stop on a Saturday, and my friend, an old hippie, looked out at the green hill sloping up towards the State House and said, “I remember when you’d look up there and see people getting it on under blankets.” I tracked his eyes up the lawn to the usual groups of tourists, teenagers, and homeless crews sitting shoulder to shoulder. The HIV era has changed the way we look at sex permanently, and I wonder if we’ve let it derail our country’s ongoing struggle with repression.
The Internet has made it easier than ever for people to chase their darkest desires alone, from the comfort of their rooms, secretly. In the mainstream media, from film to print ads, sex is selling to a younger crowd, most effectively through teen heartthrobs advocating abstinence: Miley and Justin, Edward and Bella. The inversion leaves me flabbergasted. From John Donne and the Marquis de Sade to Dorothy Parker and Cole Porter, people have been trying to figure out the connection between sex and the soul, and here we are still playing the bait and switch and moralizing Tiger’s fall from grace.
Our Valentine’s week feature (see sex sell) is about sex and love and how together they can make you feel better. It just so happens that our coverage of Charlottesville’s trial of the century, which involves former college lovers, also starts this week. In our line of work, sometimes one thing just lands next to another, and the relationship makes you think. There is no less ardor at a topless beach in Spain than at a strip club off the interstate. Passion will work as well in the light of day as in the dark, and it may just bear a sweeter fruit with a cleaner aftertaste.––Giles Morris