Tag Archives: sex

It’s a question of… Copenhagen (and media coverage)

The famous tourist poster created by Viggo Vagnby in the 1950's

Today the capital of Denmark will become the centre of the world. But as the Copenhagen climate summit 2009 begins, so does the media coverage – with all its merits and flaws.

It will come as no surprise that however important this summit is for the planet (and I believe it is), only half of the news reports from Copenhagen will be about climate change, global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.

Why? Because when you’re a journalist and you’ve been sent to an event that goes on for ten days, there will be times where finding new topics to report about will lead you down deceiving paths. Mostly, the roads already taken.

While you wait for the world leaders to find some kind of consensus, your newsroom is waiting for… news. And you can only give percentages, talk about who’s there and who’s not and interview scientists so many times.

Of course, there will have to be reports about the security, the activists roaming outside and the planned demonstrations. But once you’ve covered this – and unless of course there’s any unfortunate event in this area – well, you’ll have to find something else to report about (other than the food and accommodation being offered to journalists and delegates – which, frankly, who cares?).

Now let’s see… When Denmark was recently, and once again, elected the happiest place in the world to live, journalists from all over were sent there to find out why. I watched a few of these programs and was stunned by the naïve use of stereotypes.

Ok, so Denmark was the first country in the world to legalize pornography  – but that was 50 years ago! Still, journalists find it necessary to state that Danes are all naked on the beaches (women aren’t even topless anymore), that going to swinger clubs is a common thing (certainly no more common than in the UK or France) – oh, and that no one locks their bikes (yeah, right…). Of course, there is also always a mention about same-sex unions (legalized 20 years ago… so, again, old news) and the prams left “unattended” on the sidewalks.

When watching reports from the Copenhagen climate summit these next ten days, you should therefore expect reports about: anything related to sex and nakedness, deprived over-tolerant, over-liberal Danes who drink beer and allow their children to do anything, and probably also bikes (a topic that can be adapted to the summit: massive Danish bike-riding = fight against the worlds global warming). Take all this with a pinch of salt. The “there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark” was a concept Shakespeare invented some 400 years ago, without ever visiting the country.

I hear now on the radio that the Copenhagen climate summit has officially opened. And media coverage has begun: today, you can read and hear about prostitutes offering free sex to UN-delegates in Copenhagen. So much for global warming.

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It’s a question of…. bad sex scenes

The “Bad sex in fiction” award 2009 has just been announced. The winner this year is American-turned-French writer Jonathan Littell for his book The Kindly ones (originally published in French as Les Bienveillantes). Now this is not just any writer or any book. It’s the one that won the Prix Goncourt and the Grand Prix de l’Académie française in 2006. Supposedly a good piece of literature (I haven’t read it), but the sex scenes in it are really bad (I have read some of those – well I had to, didn’t I?).

I’m not pouring water on a drowning man. Littell has sold thousands of books and will probably sell even more after this. And writing good sex scenes is very difficult, even for the best of authors. Be honest, how many times have you sat in the middle of page-turner to find yourself suddenly cringing over some over-explicit and often totally unrealistic sex scene?

Danielle Steele provided me with my first literary sex. It was OK – except men were always “exploding” in the heroines. I remember being extremely disappointed when I started having sex because I never felt the “explosion” (all I felt was the body on top suddenly going heavy and crushing me). But I suppose what’s bad (or impracticable or downright laughable) literary sex for some, is good for others.

I can safely say that my “awakening” came with The Godfather and the scene at the wedding where Sonny’s having stand-up sex with his mistress and she walks away from there with the aftermaths still between her thighs. I haven’t re-read it for many, many years, but it really had a great  effect on me in my early teens. (In the film it doesn’t come  across nearly as arousing). I “stole” the book time and time  again from my parent’s shelves as some forbidden fruit.

Why exactly? I have no idea. Maybe if I had already had  sex at the time and had known how difficult perfect stand-  up sex really is, it wouldn’t have captivated me so much…

It’s hard to say what makes a sex scene good in writing. Recently, I came across an author who pens down sex massively and explicitly but gets away with it fine: Adele Parks. But there are many more. For some strange reason (and despite The Godfather), most are women. I’m not making this up; it’s a fact. Women writers are better at it, maybe because they are more truthful. You need proof? Amongst the short-listed authors for the “Bad sex in fiction” award there was only one woman for nine men…

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