'Sex In The '90s,' As Surveyed By Mtv

Posted: September 12, 1990

The last words printed on the television screen during MTV's Sex in the '90s special are, "Was it good for you?" The answer from this viewer is:

Pretty good, but I didn't feel the earth move.

Sex in the '90s, billed as a survey of sex in America from the 1950s to the 1990s, will begin at 10 tonight on MTV. It was produced by Lauren Lazin, narrated by Kurt Loder, and co-written by Lazin and Loder.

A sizable slice of this hour sounds like nonsense, as when Michelle Pfeiffer says, "I never think of myself as a sex symbol," just before she's shown lolling and curling atop a piano while singing "Makin' Whoopee" in The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989). If that's not sexy, we've all been misinformed.

But a lot of this show should make you smile, perhaps when you see a 1970s feminist hold up a poster that says, "Eve was framed." Maybe you'll grin when David Bowie's ex-wife, Angela, tells Joan Rivers that she caught Bowie in bed with Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, and Rivers springs up out of her chair in shock, as if she was suddenly electrified.

It may surprise you to see that a lot of the sexiest stuff shown here dates back to the repressed 1950s. For screen sex, it's hard to beat Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr pressed together likethis on a Hawaiian beach while waves surge over them in From Here to Eternity (1953). And after you see a few vintage moves from Elvis Presley, particularly his 1956 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show when CBS refused to show any part of his body below his waist, you'll realize anew one reason he is still the King.

Perhaps because MTV doesn't want to be accused of corrupting teenage viewers, nothing pornographic or obscene is put on display. For example, a brief still shot from Rob Lowe's notorious Atlanta sex tape is shown, but part of it is blotted out by a black square and the rest of it is so hazy, shady and indistinct that it could be a snapshot of a slumber party.

The most interesting information offered comes from a poll MTV conducted by telephone in July of an unspecified number of viewers aged 18 to 34. On most questions, no great gender gap appears. For instance, 67 percent of the males and 68 percent of the females think abortion should be legal, and 92 percent of the males and 98 percent of the females say they would continue to buy records by their favorite artist even if they learned he or she was homosexual.

But a big difference in opinion between the sexes showed up when MTV asked, ''Do you think music videos are too sexually suggestive, not suggestive enough, or just about right?"

Males voted 30 percent too much, 61 percent just right, and 2 percent not enough. Females voted 51 percent too much, 36 percent just right, and 1 percent not enough.

If you're looking for new approaches to use in the oldest of acts, you're better off consulting the Kamasutra than watching Sex in the '90s. But it basically seems like harmless fun, and the title alone seems guaranteed to pull in a considerable crowd.

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