Sex Scene

Media and the Sexual Revolution

Sex Scene

Book Pages: 456 Illustrations: 58 photographs Published: March 2014

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Media Studies > Film

Sex Scene suggests that what we have come to understand as the sexual revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s was actually a media revolution. In lively essays, the contributors examine a range of mass media—film and television, recorded sound, and publishing—that provide evidence of the circulation of sex in the public sphere, from the mainstream to the fringe. They discuss art films such as I am Curious (Yellow), mainstream movies including Midnight Cowboy, sexploitation films such as Mantis in Lace, the emergence of erotic film festivals and of gay pornography, the use of multimedia in sex education, and the sexual innuendo of The Love Boat. Scholars of cultural studies, history, and media studies, the contributors bring shared concerns to their diverse topics. They highlight the increasingly fluid divide between public and private, the rise of consumer and therapeutic cultures, and the relationship between identity politics and individual rights. The provocative surveys and case studies in this nuanced cultural history reframe the "sexual revolution" as the mass sexualization of our mediated world.

Contributors. Joseph Lam Duong, Jeffrey Escoffier, Kevin M. Flanagan, Elena Gorfinkel, Raymond J. Haberski Jr., Joan Hawkins, Kevin Heffernan, Eithne Johnson, Arthur Knight, Elana Levine, Christie Milliken, Eric Schaefer, Jeffrey Sconce, Jacob Smith, Leigh Ann Wheeler, Linda Williams


"[Schaefer has] assembled a stellar lineup of academic authors who know their stuff. That their stuff includes everything from MPAA ratings flaps and 'party records' to the (ahem) rise of porn chic and how TV’s The Love Boat struggled to hint at cabin couplings, means the book is like a class you wish existed, just so you could audit the entire semester. Collectively, the text is the smartest person at the party without also being the snobbish dick at said soirée. . . ." — Rod Lott, Bookgasm

“An important contribution to late 20th century history and will be of interest to scholars in media and cultural studies as well to historians.”  — European Journal of Communication

“[A] remarkable collection of essays about the ways in which media disrupted and recalibrated assumptions about sex and sexuality in the US during the late 1960s and early 1970s. . . . An important collection for anyone interested in media history, sexual regulation, and political activism/social change. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.” — T. E. Adams, Choice

“[T]he collection provides readers with an innovative and exciting approach to marginal media forms. . . .”  — Mark Walmsley, U.S. Studies Online

“The text is a strong contribution to the field of pop and media culture and is a great resource for those whose research interests explore the intersections of politics, media, and sex during the tumultuous period of the 1960s and 70s. But the book is also written in an accessible manner, engaging in thoughtful criticism without becoming bloated with jargon. For those who are a cineaste or have an interest in the provocateurs whose works have changed the landscape of film, Sex Scene is a great read.”  — Rebecca Lynn Gavrila, Journal of Popular Culture

"The collection richly demonstrates the moments of contestation and cooptation by which increasingly sexualized sounds and images made their way into the media."  — Manon Parry, Journal of American History

"In providing a detailed history and analysis of media and sexual revolution in the middle of the twentieth century, Schaefer’s expansive book offers a timely reminder that our current concerns may be understood as an extension of longstanding debates around sexuality, visibility, privacy, and technology in American culture." — Andrea McDonnell, Journal of American Culture

"Sex Scene is a thorough and detailed contribution to the historical literature on sex and media in the United States from 1968 through 1973.... It will be useful for early career researchers and experts working in the history of film and television, gender and sexuality, media and communication, 1960s–1970s America, celebrity, and the avant-garde." — Robert Wood, Screen Bodies

"In 1968 researchers at the National Sex Forum said it was time to say yes to sex. Decades later, researchers in Sex Scene say it is time to say yes to the study of sex media. Finally! The strikingly original essays in this wide-ranging collection boldly argue that the sexual revolution needs to be understood as the mass mediated affair that gave rise to our current debates about privacy, policy, and technology. The books, magazines, newspapers, movies, TV programs, and Broadway shows of 1968, and even Lyndon Johnson's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, took such a prurient interest in sex that they gave prurience a good name, inciting that cultural move—from sex in the bedroom to sex in public—known as the sexual revolution. Sex Scene will make us all a lot smarter on the complex and controversial relation of sex and media as we teach, debate, and legislate it." — Constance Penley, author of NASA/TREK: Popular Science and Sex in America

"Focusing on a wide range of topics and media, Eric Schaefer’s anthology Sex Scene offers a complex and comprehensive history of the sexual revolution. The collection is a massive contribution to the study of sexual representation in the 1960s and 1970s." — Jon Lewis, author of Hollywood v. Hard Core: How the Struggle over censorship Saved the Modern Film Industry


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Price: $30.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Eric Schaefer is Associate Professor in the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College. He is the author of "Bold! Daring! Shocking! True!" A History of Exploitation Films, 1919–1959, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Sex Seen: 1968 and the Rise of "Public" Sex / Eric Schaefer 1

Part I. Mainstream Media and the Sexual Revolution

1. Rate It X?: Hollywood Cinema and the End of the Production Code / Christie Milliken 25

2. Make Love, Not War: Jane Fonda Comes Home (1968–1978) / Linda Williams 53

3. The New Sexual Culture of American Television in the 1970s / Elana Levine 81

Part II. Sex as Art

4. Prurient (Dis)Interest: The American Release and Reception of I Am Curious (Yellow) / Kevin Heffernan 105

5. Wet Dreams: Erotic Film Festivals of the Early 1970s and the Utopian Sexual Public Sphere / Elena Gorfinkel 126

6. Let the Juices Flow: WR and the Midnight Movie Culture / Joan Hawkins 151

Part III. Media at the Margins

7. 33 1/3 Sexual Revolutions per Minute / Jacob Smith 179

8. "I'll Take Sweden": The Shifting Discourse of the "Sexy Nation" in Sexploitation Films / Eric Schaefer 207

9. Altered Sex: Satan, Acid, and the Erotic Threshold / Jeffrey Sconce 235

Part IV. Going All the Way

10. The "Sexarama"; Or Sex Education as an Environmental Multimedia Experience / Eithne Johnson 265

11. San Francisco and the Politics of Hardcore / Joseph Lam Duong 297

12. Beefcake to Hardcore: Gay Pornography and the Sexual Revolution / Jeffrey Escoffier 319

Part V. Contending with the Sex Scene

13. Publicizing Sex through Consumer and Privacy Rights: How the American Civil Liberties Union Liberated Media in the 1960s / Leigh Ann Wheeler 351

14. Critics and the Sex Scene / Raymond J. Haberski Jr. 383

15. Porn Goes to College: American Universities, Their Students, and Pornography, 1968–1973 / Arthur Knight and Kevin M. Flanagan 407

Bibliography 435

Contributors 451

Index 455
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5654-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5642-4
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