Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

For discussion of issues pertaining to sexuality. Warning: Topics within this forum may contain frank discussion of a sexual nature.
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Nijiiro
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Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Nijiiro » Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:36 am

This isn't a discussion about materials that are, by all classifications, porn. Because sex on TV is not the same as a video where the characters and plot are completley and purposely driven by sex. I'm sure there'll be another discussion for that!

This is a discussion on how people feel about sex in the gerneral media, from historical dramas with sudden and explicit sex scenes to soaps about teenagers discovering sex. From the shocking to the innocent. Does the topic of sex affect your enjoyment of a film or book, does it depend on how relevant it is to the plot or doesn't it really matter to you? Does it cheapen relationships and love, does it make them more real?

Discuss!
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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Jessamyn » Fri Jan 18, 2008 9:27 am

it really depends on the context in which it's presented, like everything else. is it tastefully done? does it contribute to the overall story? do the sex scenes bring some sort of point or revelation that couldn't be revealed otherwise? I hate gratuitous scenes of any kind, really, not just sexuality related ones.

but it's definitely unfair to expect the media to present life as sex-free, when for most people it obviously isn't. I'd probably find it more off-putting if a movie or television show made no hint at sexuality related things at all.
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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby 70thousandfathoms » Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:09 am

I do not like it on TV
Or in books from the library
I do not like it in a film
I do not like it in a... what rhymes with film? I think I'm going to go ahead and drop the Green Eggs and Ham format now.

Seriously, I agree that it's unfair to expect the media to present life as sex-free, so the compromise I've negotiated is to turn up my nose at most of what they're selling. If I like the movie or show to begin with, it doesn't always put me off entirely, but I find that sex scenes or sexually charged scenes are excellent times to grab a soda, take a bathroom break, or see if my toenails need to be trimmed. I run across less of this content in the books I read, but when I do, I usually skim it or skip it altogether.

I can probably chalk this up to being a repulsed A, although I like to think I'm a lot more chill about it than most. I'd rather just ignore sexual content than raise a stink about it.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Mr. Paradox » Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:14 am

Many of the greatest works of all time rely heavily on sexual themes, and with good reasons. These are enduring obsessions of humanity; proxies for everything from power and violence to fragile humanity and the joy of being alive; and carriers of hefty psycho-emotional weight. Even for us, if it's done well. The problem is how seldom it is done well, as it's too easy for writers and filmmakers to assume that these things will fly under their own power, and audiences too often prove them right.

Still, for every hundred purveyors of bad sex scenes there's a Proust or a Nabokov or a Wong Kar-wai (to pick a few off the shelf) doing it right and making it matter.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby IAmAFishFlopFlopFlop » Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:37 pm

Reading a sex scene in a book is like being flogged. And that's just the ones that are well-written. The worst are like having a red-hot, phallic-shaped poker jammed into your eyeball, and swizzled around.
Last edited by IAmAFishFlopFlopFlop on Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Vittoria
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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Vittoria » Sun Jan 20, 2008 1:07 pm

I'm not bothered by it as long as it serves a purpose or is at least well written/filmed/whatever. Complaiing about it would be like left handed people bitching about how everything's made for right-handed people. Well, yeah, there're more of them, of course the world will be tailored to them.

However, when the scene isn't well done or seems to be there because the producer said, "This movie needs breasts. NOW!" that makes me want to scream. And I know sexual people who find that insulting too, as though the producers think the audience can't get through a 90 minute film without seeing nudity.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Gadfly-in-Chief » Sun Jan 20, 2008 3:48 pm

Vittoria wrote:Complaiing about it would be like left handed people bitching about how everything's made for right-handed people. Well, yeah, there're more of them, of course the world will be tailored to them. .


I'm actually bothered quite a bit more by the right-handed bias of our cultures than I am by any sort of sex in movies or books or whatnot. And I'm right handed.
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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby KAGU143 » Sun Jan 20, 2008 4:02 pm

I'm not bothered at all by sex in movies or TV as long as it is a logical part of the plot. I admit to being a little bit old-fashioned, insofar as I tend to disapprove of casual/cheap sex being portrayed as a good thing with no bad consequences. I object because I feel that the show is intentionally lying and because I also feel that there are people who will believe that lie and end up getting hurt because of it.
The cheap sex itself doesn't bother me, though. It's the twisted message behind it that I don't like.
If it is portrayed honestly and realistically then I don't have a problem with it, although I might use those scenes as convenient intermission times.
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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Mysteria » Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:30 pm

I actually find it absolutely fascinating. Not so much in TV or movies, because the visual format doesn't really allow you inside the characters' heads, but in fiction? I love it. My favorite book series is a set of trilogies by Jacqueline Carey collectively called Kushiel's Legacy, which is set in a country loosely based on France, where there is no stigma about sex of any kind, and "Love as thou wilt" is held as the highest moral compass. Courtesans are an integral part of the religion of Terre D'ange, and the story follows a young courtesan who is considered to be marked by one of their gods. Sexual expression of all kinds is celebrated, considered sacred. I think it's a wonderfully idealistic world. And stories of this kind can really help me to better understand sexuals, give me a "point of entry," if you will.

Of course, it only works right if it's done well, but the hokey, badly-written sex scenes are hilarious too.

KAGU143 wrote:I admit to being a little bit old-fashioned, insofar as I tend to disapprove of casual/cheap sex being portrayed as a good thing with no bad consequences. I object because I feel that the show is intentionally lying and because I also feel that there are people who will believe that lie and end up getting hurt because of it.
The cheap sex itself doesn't bother me, though. It's the twisted message behind it that I don't like.
If it is portrayed honestly and realistically then I don't have a problem with it, although I might use those scenes as convenient intermission times.


I'd have to disagree with you there. In my experience, casual sex is not always cheap, and doesn't always have to have negative consequences. Sure, a lot of times it does, but sometimes it can be a very positive, healthy thing for both of the parties involved, IF they are both on the same page and keep a good attitude about it. But I do wonder how common that is in real life.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby pretzelboy » Tue Jan 22, 2008 2:02 pm

In books that I read, I generally don't have any problem with sex in them as long as the sex serves to advance the plot or develop the character(s), which is usually does (in the things I read.) In movies and TV this tends to be the case a lot less often. But I don't watch TV on or movies all that often and when I do, the sex is usually not too explicit. If I'm bothered by sex/portrayals of sexuality, I'm more bothered by messages that are being conveyed (making people think that they need to be having sex, reinforcing ideas about "normal" sexuality, etc.) than by the sexuality itself. However, particularly erotic images tend to annoy me. It's not that I think such images are evil (though for reasons relating to feminism I'm often not so thrilled with how women are being portrayed in many things) but I just don't like them. This can be forgiven if the sex is there for plot/characterization purposes rather than "let's have more pointless sex" purposes.

I once read a quote by Madeline L'Engle that I liked dealing with sex in literature. She didn't like scenes that described sex on the grounds that they don't add anything to the story. If you've had sex, you don't need someone to explain it to you, and if you haven't no amount of explanation will suffice. Simply allowing the reader to infer that there's been a sexual encounter should be enough. From an asexual perspective this could be contested, but I still like the general idea.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Mr. Paradox » Tue Jan 22, 2008 3:18 pm

pretzelboy wrote:I once read a quote by Madeline L'Engle that I liked dealing with sex in literature. She didn't like scenes that described sex on the grounds that they don't add anything to the story. If you've had sex, you don't need someone to explain it to you, and if you haven't no amount of explanation will suffice. Simply allowing the reader to infer that there's been a sexual encounter should be enough. From an asexual perspective this could be contested, but I still like the general idea.

Hm, I don't know about that. I can't see why sex should be specially passed over on these grounds. Couldn't you use this argument for any subject? Presumably, if the author is describing any action in detail it's because there's something special about it that can't be inferred.
"He cannot, however, long remain asexual when he sees the great peasant girls, as ardent as mares in heat, abandoning themselves to the arms of robust youths."
--Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Vittoria » Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:38 pm

Ever since this thread was started I've been thinking about a sex scene in a film whose name escapes me now... The film was mediocre, but there was a not particularly graphic, but very tender sex scene near the beginning. Without that scene the movie would have been entirely different--the dynamic between the couple wouldn't have been believable. But that thirty seconds or so of gentleness showed that those characters cared for one another deeply. Yes, they could have showed that some other way, but the sex conveyed the message quickly and quite well.

{edit, I had to look it up--Civic Duty with Peter Krause.}

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Mysteria » Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:09 pm

Mr. Paradox wrote:
pretzelboy wrote:I once read a quote by Madeline L'Engle that I liked dealing with sex in literature. She didn't like scenes that described sex on the grounds that they don't add anything to the story. If you've had sex, you don't need someone to explain it to you, and if you haven't no amount of explanation will suffice. Simply allowing the reader to infer that there's been a sexual encounter should be enough. From an asexual perspective this could be contested, but I still like the general idea.

Hm, I don't know about that. I can't see why sex should be specially passed over on these grounds. Couldn't you use this argument for any subject? Presumably, if the author is describing any action in detail it's because there's something special about it that can't be inferred.


Good point, Mr. Paradox. I think the challenge of describing anything in a way that will have an impact on the reader is to focus on the specifics, rather than the general. If the writer is describing sex itself rather than focusing on the characters, what it means to them, how it changes them, specific things that they do during sex that reveal an aspect of their personality that the reader otherwise might never know about... Then sure, the sex won't add anything to the story. But I would argue that this is more because it is weak character development, rather than just because it is a sex scene. If you're writing a story about someone, you're only supposed to write about the interesting parts of their lives, because nobody cares about the mundane, day-to-day things. If the sex is in there, it is supposed to be interesting, and if it's not, that's because the writer (and/or editor) didn't have the good judgment to either make it interesting or cut it out.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby spin » Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:56 pm

Yes, Mysteria and Mr. Paradox!

I'll chime in with all the folks who said that, done right, sex scenes can be fascinating or a good source of character or story development. The problem with sex in the media is it's too often only present in order to tittilate. There has to be a point to it. Like with anything, the question is, what's significant about this scene that it merited being shared with an audience? I'd disagree with L'Engel's statement, because probably none of the audience has experienced what those characters are going through at that moment.

I'm trying to imagine a nonsexual parallel, like a scene with a character eating a really delicious sandwich and enjoying the hell out of it. Without deeper meaning or context it's just gratuitous, and maybe even promoting unhealthy attitudes toward food. But maybe it's his first sandwich after getting his braces off and he feels free and grown-up. Maybe she's deliberately and cruelly eating it in front of a hungry child. Or what if it's comfort eating and he'll just feel guilty and depressed when it's gone? In any of those contexts, a well-done food scene would be a good way to convey something about the character.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby pretzelboy » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:00 pm

I could have misunderstood the quote or have misquoted it. My guess is that she was probably reacting to the large number of badly written sex scenes (the quote referred only to written media) that books would have been better without.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Charlieee » Thu Jan 24, 2008 6:43 pm

If it's nicely done and lends itself to the story, then I suppose I don't mind it. Like people above me have said - character development, plot twists, all that stuff. But if it's just sorta stuck in there, well, I don't need to watch that. :?

When it's implied, though, that's a different story. XD I'm a huge slasher - my friend recently introduced me to the House x Wilson fandom for House, MD so... XD XD *hides*

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Emmarainbow » Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:35 am

Yeah, another vote for 'if it's done well.'

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Kez » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:42 pm

I love the book The Story of O, which is about a young lady who's lover takes her to Roissy, and teachs her about sadomasochism, and pretty much gives her to a friend of his to do whatever he wants to her.

The writting is done really well, and although it's explicit (to a degree - it doesn't go on about "his throbbing member" or "her tender woman parts", although the sex is described graphically) , it doesn't make me cringe or hide away/

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Mysteria » Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:14 pm

Charlieee wrote:I'm a huge slasher - my friend recently introduced me to the House x Wilson fandom for House, MD so... XD XD *hides*

Haha, I'm also kind of a slasher... but for some reason, although I LOVE their relationship on-screen, I just can't slash House/Wilson. I just... I don't know, I don't see any sexual attraction there, though they are my favorite strong non-sexual love/hate relationship on television today. Throw Cuddy into the mix, though... ^_~

Kez - I heard about The Story of O once; a friend of mine's father gave it to her and she said it was really creepy, pointless erotica. But I don't think she likes stories like that, and the fact that it was her dad giving it to her was kinda... inappropriate, I suppose.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby ironwulf » Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:57 am

Mysteria wrote:Good point, Mr. Paradox. I think the challenge of describing anything in a way that will have an impact on the reader is to focus on the specifics, rather than the general. If the writer is describing sex itself rather than focusing on the characters, what it means to them, how it changes them, specific things that they do during sex that reveal an aspect of their personality that the reader otherwise might never know about... Then sure, the sex won't add anything to the story. But I would argue that this is more because it is weak character development, rather than just because it is a sex scene. If you're writing a story about someone, you're only supposed to write about the interesting parts of their lives, because nobody cares about the mundane, day-to-day things. If the sex is in there, it is supposed to be interesting, and if it's not, that's because the writer (and/or editor) didn't have the good judgment to either make it interesting or cut it out.


It also depends upon the set of the characters though. I'm a fan on the Anita Blake series by Laurell Hamilton, and the way she set up Anita made it relevant to put the increasing levels of power into a sexual context. As far as my opinion of the sex in the story goes, I think the set up made it necessary and therefore adds to the story. I also think it's getting a tad gratuitous, but so is the ever expanding power Anita seems capable of wielding. I sometimes wish there was less sex, but the set up, warrants it.

One a separate note I just starting watching Stargate SG-1 on DVD, and was very surprised in the pilot episode when there was full frontal nudity. 8| It was just so unexpected. Not completely sexual in nature, and appropriate to the situation, just surprising.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Karl » Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:05 pm

In related news, ABC faces fine for showing a woman's buttocks before 10pm. And as they so rightly point out in response, buttocks are not a sexual organ. The thing that gets me is that you can show people being killed as much as you like, but the moment you display a naked human body, you're in for it.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Shockwave » Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:13 pm

Taboos don't always make sense when you stop and think about them.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Dargon » Sat Jan 26, 2008 8:41 pm

Just another person echoing in that unnecessasary sex scenes (ie those thrown in because hey, sex sells) are rather, well, unnecessasary, but if they are done right, they can do wonders for plot and character development. I've even seen comedic sex/nudity that was downright brilliant.

Additionally, I would like to add that by making it a little more mainstream, it does begin to break the taboo. What I personally feel needs to happen a bit more, it that non-sexual nudity needs to be a bit more prevelant in the media. By fining ABC for showing a buttocks before 10, the media is helping to futher sexually charge the nude body, and further make nudity a taboo subject.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Spooky » Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:06 am

Of course it does depend on the context but generally sex in the media is just another aspect of a character's day-to-day life from my point of view. If it's poorly written I'm just as bored watching/reading about a character indulging in sexuality in whatever way as I am watching their route to work, and if it's well written I'm rapt.
For the record, I'm actually a big lover of slash and even erotica. I love the way romance and sexuality affect people. I'm with most of the previous posters, though - it has to be done well and not just for the sake of it.
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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Placebo » Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:04 am

Dargon wrote:What I personally feel needs to happen a bit more, it that non-sexual nudity needs to be a bit more prevelant in the media. By fining ABC for showing a buttocks before 10, the media is helping to futher sexually charge the nude body, and further make nudity a taboo subject.


I agree--it seems silly to make such a big deal about nudity. Here (US) especially it seems like such a taboo subject--and why? I don't get it. What percentage of the human body is actually directly involved in sex--<20%? 10%? I think part of it is that the underlying belief assumes that if you see someone naked you'll be unable to control yourself. Therefore, seeing such things on TV is a "corrupting" influence because we can't control ourselves or something.

I think if more emphasis was placed on sexual actions being a choice that people can control it would be easier to understand that people are capable of sleeping together without having sex, seeing each other naked without having sex. . .OR doing either of those things and having sex as they choose.
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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Emmarainbow » Sun Jan 27, 2008 2:58 pm

Placebo wrote:I think if more emphasis was placed on sexual actions being a choice that people can control it would be easier to understand that people are capable of sleeping together without having sex, seeing each other naked without having sex. . .OR doing either of those things and having sex as they choose.

Yes!! It frustrates me how many things are automatically defined as 'sexual' or 'not sexual at all, whatya talking about?' Mainly the first group - I love playing with people's hair, and I enjoy sharing beds with people. But not necessarily in a sexual way, and it's endlessly annoying when just sitting in a tangle with someone means something must be happening. It particularly frustrates me that when people do this to me, I think this too. :meh: Damn society.
If there was more open discussion and so forth about sex and its ability to *not* happen as well as people being expected to f*ck like rabbits at the slightest provocation, being asexual would be so much less of a big deal, and people wouldn't have so much pressure on the whole 'losing virginity' thing. And we could talk about things sensibly.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Dargon » Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:02 pm

Emmarainbow wrote:...I love playing with people's hair...



I learned to french braid a few months back and have fallen in love with braiding peoples hair. Unfortunately, since french braids are worn primarily be women, and I'm a man, the desire to braid someone's hair tends to carry connotations (though not necessasarily sexual)....or it implies I'm gay. In either case, let me braid the hair just because I want to.

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Olivier » Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:34 pm

Emmarainbow wrote:If there was more open discussion and so forth about sex and its ability to *not* happen as well as people being expected to f*ck like rabbits at the slightest provocation, being asexual would be so much less of a big deal, and people wouldn't have so much pressure on the whole 'losing virginity' thing. And we could talk about things sensibly.

Totally agree. And I think a big part of that needs to be more sex on TV and in movies, but not as some Big Thing, just realistic depictions of what really goes on in people's lives. I think it's quite incredible that we reached the point where people can have free and easy access to every type of porn, from vanilla to kink, 99.99% of which is hugely fake and exhibitionistic, even the amateur stuff, and still be horrified that a cinema movie or broadcast TV show should show unsimulated sex, even of the most gentle and loving kind, or even realistic foreplay.

And don't even get me started about the double standard with depictions of violence ]}:(

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Charlieee » Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:42 pm

Mysteria wrote:
Charlieee wrote:I'm a huge slasher - my friend recently introduced me to the House x Wilson fandom for House, MD so... XD XD *hides*

Haha, I'm also kind of a slasher... but for some reason, although I LOVE their relationship on-screen, I just can't slash House/Wilson. I just... I don't know, I don't see any sexual attraction there, though they are my favorite strong non-sexual love/hate relationship on television today. Throw Cuddy into the mix, though... ^_~


Oh, that'd be interesting. XD

Yeah, my slashing is pretty much just making innuendo-laden comments when they share a scene. It's fun. :P

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Re: Sex on TV [...and in books] (Adult Content to be expected!)

Postby Mysteria » Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:24 pm

Charlieee wrote:
Mysteria wrote:
Charlieee wrote:I'm a huge slasher - my friend recently introduced me to the House x Wilson fandom for House, MD so... XD XD *hides*

Haha, I'm also kind of a slasher... but for some reason, although I LOVE their relationship on-screen, I just can't slash House/Wilson. I just... I don't know, I don't see any sexual attraction there, though they are my favorite strong non-sexual love/hate relationship on television today. Throw Cuddy into the mix, though... ^_~


Oh, that'd be interesting. XD

Yeah, my slashing is pretty much just making innuendo-laden comments when they share a scene. It's fun. :P

If that's all you mean by slashing, then yeah, I do that too. It's great. XD I'm just not too into the fanfics and such, lol.