So, basically, Sex Box is a new, “revolutionary” TV show that looks to separate sex from pornography by having couples go into a box in front of an audience (though, they cannot see or hear what is going on), have sex, then come out and talk about it in front of three experts and the host.
In theory, people could argue – yes, that might work. I was always dubious. It took me a while to get around to watching it. I work in Ann Summers and, you know, sometimes you get home from work and cannot handle any more talking about sex. So that rules out a number of channel 4’s documentaries.
It is neither bold and raunchy (one direction it could have gone), or actually insightful, with the potential for psychological and scientific discussion just overlooked.
And here’s the problem – just because people are willing to talk about it doesn’t mean that what they’re saying is relevant or groundbreaking. The first couple simply said “I took off her clothes, we had some foreplay, then got straight into it”. Groundbreaking. The expectation was, at least, a little detail – the idea of not being ashamed by sex, by showing how normal it is.
The questions being asked annoyed me, purely because it doesn’t seem to just want to remove sex from pornography but make it synonymous with relationships. I understand why they couldn’t have a couple who’ve never met before get in and have sex, but the questions seem to directly target the impact of love, so I personally found it frustrating to see how it was almost skipped over as an activity just for fun, and not necessarily with someone you love.
The talk of pornography was, well, meh. They’d say they watched anything from softcore to hardcore porn and had considered threesomes, though they understand the risk of bringing fantasy to reality could have on their relationship if they went ahead. Surely, this is a sign of how pornography is not realistic? Perhaps, but it was all very dull and frustrating.
American Journalist Dan Savage is the only person to inject anything relevant to the conversation, and comes closest to achieving the show’s objective. Rather than going straight down the middle with his questions, he admits that he and his husband have threesomes, also picking up on the idea of sex as not just being for the loved up pairings. He’s funny, he’s fresh and he’s not traditional, which seems to break with everyone else. He is the only saviour of an ultimately boring and un-groundbreaking show.
I’ve heard customers talking about it and it’s been a similar thing. Single women felt like it wasn’t inclusive of the idea of enjoying sex in a one night stand, and that it being normalised came hand in hand with being a couple, reinforced through the questions. Meeting up for a one night stand turned into a loving relationship. Many switched off after the first couple.
The objective of removing sex from pornography is really not aided by this. How to tell youngsters to view it critically (like an action movie – another well raised point by Savage) is the real issue, and at best they’re showing that loving sex can be ‘different’ rather than separate.
They make sex seem normal, yes. But they make it seem boring, and seem to be trying to tick the boxes on the diversity of their couples and struggles, going, “Look! We’re inclusive!” rather than trying to teach or achieve anything remotely relevant or important. There is a conversation to be had here, but this is by no means the way to do it.