In 1965, America lost one of its first motion picture sex symbols, when Clara Bow, the It Girl, died of heart disease.
Bow had been the star of a string of silent films, was the stuff of legend and of lies, was accused of having literally had sex with an entire football team — since testified to as untrue by team members, by the way — and she was so driven by the titillation industry that she sought anonymity.
Unfortunately she married fellow film actor Rex Bell, who went into politics.
In 1944, when Bell was running for national office, Bow attempted suicide, leaving a note that she would rather be dead than have to live in the national spotlight again.
The titillation machine had chewed her up and spit her out.
She hung on until, at age 60 she died of heard disease.
She was one of the victims of America’s adolescent attraction to beautiful young girls who are to act sexy.
Follow her up with Jean Arthur, or Barbara Stanwyk, or Jane Mansfield, or Marilyn Monroe and you have the legacy that leads right up to the continuing titillation that we still call entertainment on TV today.
Only Americans are starting to notice that the entertainment is getting less and less desirable, even as they continue to tune in to it.
The Associated Press noted this week that, “Last week seemed typical for CBS’ sitcoms on Monday night, television’s most popular — and raunchy — night of comedy.
“There was a strip club visit on ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ lap dance included. The stars of ‘2 Broke Girls’ mistakenly believed an upstairs neighbor ran a brothel. ‘Two and a Half Men’ included jokes about masturbation, oral sex, sex with moms, trading cigarettes for sex and two scenes with loud noises of passion from behind closed doors.
“A quick count found 53 sex jokes on the network’s four comedies, which includes ‘Mike & Molly.’ There were also nine jokes about flatulence or bowel movements, and two scenes where marijuana use was clearly implied — one with a teen-age boy and the other with an older woman.
“CBS and producers of the comedies strongly defend their work and point to the shows’ success as evidence they’re doing something right. ‘Two and a Half Men’ is TV’s favorite comedy, ‘How I Met Your Mother’ has its best ratings ever in its seventh year and ‘2 Broke Girls’ is a breakout freshman hit. The four shows are among the seven most popular comedies on prime-time television this season, the Nielsen ratings company said.”
In other words, America continues to enjoy watching young girls act like sex servants and it continues to be one of our favorite forms of entertainment.
Even while we claim we are concerned about violence against women, even as we are supposedly interested in women’s rights, we continue, as a culture, to be entertained by the objectification of young, attractive women put in raunchy situations and we call it entertainment.
The answer is clear.
If Americans were to change what they require out of TV, if they were to turn the tube off until trash was removed, things would change over night.
But America will have to decide that titillation and objectification are not attractive, and that doesn’t seem likely any time soon.
— Chuck Smith