Movies

Will coronavirus put an end to sex scenes on film and TV?


There’ll be none of this for a while (PIcture: Stephen Morley/Polygram/Working)

I don’t want to get all hormonal teenage boy on you, but I sure hope coronavirus doesn’t spell the end of the sex scene.

But it might. For the foreseeable future anyway.

With film sets around the world shuttered after coronavirus began to spread, it’s obvious something will change when actors finally return to set.

This week, with production given the green light to begin – albeit with a raft of new rules – draft regulations hinted at what the new norm will involve on socially-distant sets.

Some I can handle, such as pre-packaged craft services, and extras being replaced by CGI for the time being. But when it comes to telling stories, what happens to the humble sex scene?

You can hardly make out, let alone make it look like you’re bumping uglies from a safe two-metre distance.

Romeo and Juliet can think again (Picture: Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX)

But even worse, with the rules suggesting actors ‘should work back to back or shoulder to shoulder, rather than face to face’, that just doesn’t make lovin’ – or the illusion of it – all that conducive.

While I’m hardly chanting ‘kiss, kiss, kiss’ whenever two actors vibe a little chemistry on the screen (well, most of the time anyway – I am a child), I mourn for the sexy interactions we’re going to miss in the next round of creative endeavours in the cinema.

Whether you’re clutching your pearls or not, you have to admit sex adds a certain je ne sais quoi to festivities.

What is better than two characters that have been pining for one another finally getting down?

Or, at the very least, characters in your favourite rom-com having a delightful pash under some fairy lights in the garden?

An actor in an ape costume? Not even that will fly (Picture: 20th Century Fox/Kobal/REX)

That iconic scene in The Notebook between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, when they share a rainy snog on the dock, wouldn’t exist had it been scheduled to film later this year.

And you can think again about that upside-down kiss from Spider-Man – you won’t even get a handshake these days.

Everyone is talking about TV series Normal People right now as well, which has a combined 41 minutes of sex scenes in its 12-episode run.

Should it have been filmed only months after it was, in the mayhem of production shutdown, who knows what those 41 minutes would have been filled with.

I can hardly imagine people getting all sorts of hot under the collar from some lingering stares instead (mind you, I can think of some radio listeners that might have preferred it).

Still too close (Picture: BBC)

What if, without sex scenes, the industry just decides to put them in the ‘too-hard basket’ and ditch them altogether?

Sex scenes bring us together, from the playground giggles when you dissected stolen glances of a post-watershed show you watched when you were meant to be in bed, to the coming-of-age movies you inhaled during teen sleepovers, way too young to be feasting your eyes on such smut.

For many, whether rightly or wrongly, intimate scenes in movies are how we learned the cues of courtship and flirting. It was how we formed some expectations of sexual interaction, before porn came in and turned that up to 11 – but arguably not in a good way.

At their best, they give us butterflies and, in some, raise our standards for what romance could be (rose petals and orchestral strings timed to passionate, er, movements is totally natural, right?).

I wonder how, as a viewing public, we’ll change should sex scenes turn into some weird, two-shot moment with actors trying to bring the illusion of intimacy without actually touching or being within 200 centimetres of one another.

Will people start to accept a good hug as just as brilliant as going all the way (yes, I just said ‘going all the way’ – my parents read this); or will kids have an incredibly warped view of what sex actually is for a couple of years if they’re not seeing it in the cinema?

Is it dramatic of me to wonder if the birth rate might go down? Is that too much?

Rather conveniently though, the end of the sex scene for a period may mean that we’ll be given a little respite from watching some awkward scenes with our parents.

No more staring straight ahead, trying not to blush as two actors loudly moan and thrust and pant and… you get the drift, with your dad, like, right there.

Well, that is, if we can ever hang out with our parents again…

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