The recent stories of the alleged extortion and blackmail involving David Letterman, Mackenzie Phillips’ alleged incestuous relationship with her father, and the retelling of the Roman Polanski case should have elicited a shocking response from most people. However, our society has become so desensitized to sexual scandals that the crowd at the “Late Show with David Letterman” applauded when the host said he had slept with female staff members in the past.
Prominent Hollywood directors, such as Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, signed a petition calling for the release of Roman Polanski from custody in Switzerland for the crime of statutory rape of which he was convicted of in the U.S. in 1977, although he fled the country and never served a single day in prison prior to being taken in recently.
And instead of being disgusted with the horrors of Phillips’ alleged drug-filled relationship with her father, people want to read about the details of this despicable relationship in her new book. With the exception of Letterman, those sexual acts are illegal and reprehensible, yet nobody seems to care.
It seems the reason for a lack of caring about these subjects is a commonality of sex scandals in modern society. Whether it is Ben Roethlisberger or John Edwards, nobody seems to be shocked or appalled by these stories. This attitude is shaped by the media’s constant bombardment of sex toward society. Shows like “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “CSI” tend to make us believe that sexual crimes are commonplace and are not as disgusting as other crimes. The advertising industry lives by the creed “sex sells.” One cannot escape the presence of sex in our society and one just has to accept it.
Hopefully, there can be more sexual education directed toward children to help discern what reality is and what is created by the media. Children are going to be exposed to sex from an early age, but one can only hope that parents and teachers provide them with enough knowledge to see that sex scandals are not social norms. Maybe children should get information about sex and its consequences from their teachers and parents, and not television shows and commercials.
Chris Varano is a freshman film, television and digital media major from Suffern, N.Y.