PERSPECTIVErnwM’-.rn””%^tr^ i ‘ XAU^^’^^,rnIn Praise of Sex and Violencernby Thomas FlemingrnAll the best authorities agree: there is too much sex andrnviolence in America. Social critics say that pop culture isrnreinforcing a cult of violence, which they trace back to the savagerndays of the American frontier; preachers launch jeremiadsrnat the explicit eroticism of MTV, and Planned Parenthood pretendsrnto have the jumps over teen illegitimacy, when their mainrnobjection is to life itself; police chiefs blame gangsta rap for incitingrnviolence against the cops and think that disarming thernsuburbs will restore peace to the inner city; and Jesse Jacksonrnresponds by pointing out that the worst pop-cultural cop-killerrnis not Ice Cube but Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger, whornwas a frequent guest of the last Republican occupant of thernWhite House. This must explain the explosion of white-onblackrncrime.rnIf you suppose the critique of sex and violence is confined tornthe experts who make their living telling us what to think, takerna look at the many polls showing time after time that a majorityrnof the American people say there is too much sex andrnviolence in the shows they watch every night on television.rnWhat do these surveys mean? A few days before the AcademyrnAwards, USA Today conducted a poll to determine which filmrnwas expected to win best picture. A substantial majority—rnmore than two thirds—picked Schindler’s List, although onlyrna bit more than 10 percent of them had actually seen it.rnRoughly the same proportion of Americans says, simultaneously,rnthat they are satisfied with their own health care arrangementsrnbut think the system needs reform. We live, quiternobviously, in two different worlds: an ever-dwindling realm ofrnprivate life, where we have some idea of what we are doing, andrnthe fast-expanding empire of publicity in which we all know thernright thing to say, no matter what our own personal experiencernhas been:rnSex and violence, violence and sex;rnTV is a gulag, the viewers are zeks.rnDespite the inevitable coupling of sex and violence, the critiquernfrom the left—which constitutes the greater part of culturalrncriticism—is directed toward violence alone. Films featuringrnClint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and MelrnCibson are part of a culture of violence, the critics tell us. Asrnmodernists, they are in a bit of a bind in deploring the growthrnof violence, particularly since they are fond of championingrnsenseless brutality when used by avant-garde novelists or by performancernartists who shoot themselves in the arm. Craphicrnviolence, like graphic sex, was supposed to shake us out of ourrnVictorian complacency and put us in touch with those reptilianrnforces that Dr. Freud found lurking beneath the placidrnsurface of conscious life. But now that D. H. Lawrence andrnWilliam Burroughs have been translated into street languagernfor the masses, the pundits want to draw the line, where theyrnalways want to draw it, right at the point where their opinionsrnmight affect themselves.rnThe usual solution to the dilemma is a dog-eared cliche:rnthe stark brutality of contemporary films is not so evil as therncartoon-like violence of John Wayne movies, in which peoplernare killed in a graceful ballet, without bloodshed or horror. Byrngraphically depicting the carnage, Sam Peckinpah and his successorsrnhave shown us the horrors of violence, etc., etc. Thisrnsort of defense inevitably reminds us of the prefaces that usedrnlO/CHRONICLESrnrnrn