Commodification of Eros
A prominent symptom of a culture deprived of the awareness of unifying love, is a culture engrossed in superficial infatuation with ‘eros’ – sexuality and passion. While the purpose of sexual intimacy can be proposed to be in harmony with love as it has been presented as a concept here (this will be dealt with in the next post), when adapted for use in popular culture it lacks sincerity. Sexualised imagery that stimulate the senses appeal to us for obvious reasons. It is unnecessary to outline the dominance of sexual imagery as advertisement tools here, as much existing work already exists on this topic, and any observer or participant of contemporary culture can see this with clarity. While it may be argued that these representations are of a purely lustful theme, it may also be the case that there is something within there appeal that is fundamentally connected to the human desire for love.
The typical sexualised imagery presented depicts young women with typically beautiful physiques and facial features. To the heterosexual male audience, these figures may represented sensuality and desire – the commodification of a sensual experience, rather than a spiritual one. The female audience may also perceive these figures as symbols of sensuality and desire, and desire to reflect the qualities that the women represent. Why might both a male and female audience find these depictions so captivating? Why are superficial qualities as desirable as they are?
To begin, consider the male perspective; the women presented offer the same holiday from everyday experience that the depictions of idyllic sunsets and psychedelic patterns do. During heightened periods sexual intimacy we find ourselves completely connected to the present – once we are able to transcend any insecurities ingrained in us about our neurosis, we feel total oneness with the other, and connected to a state higher than our everyday state of consciousness. Evolutionary psychology informs us that our sexual desire for mass copulation is fundamentally connected to the desire to spread our genes. While this notion contains much truth, there is perhaps additional reasoning that can be attributed to such motives, which will later be considered. In regards to the use of female figures in media to appeal to a male audience, could it be that the stimulation aroused when seeing such figures connects us to the transcendent states we feel during sexual encounters; of presence, and therefore of love?
Following from that perspective, it may be argued that if the only reasons we are stimulated by sexual imagery is for our own means (assure our genes in future generations), and so ultimately a selfish act. An alternative viewpoint can be presented, that incorporates and develops the depths of such reasoning. Perhaps when we are reminded of these themes through media, we are reminded of the transcendent states experienced during intimacy. Even if the experience is completely of the body, the sexual act is the vehicle through which we experience this connection to something outside ourselves – to be in the moment. Perhaps the inbuilt mechanism for lust and copulation is as much to do with our desire to transcend our everyday state of consciousness as it is to do with our biological fight for the amplification of our gene pool. When we experience this presence through sexual acts, whether they be through lust or through romance, we tune into a spiritual frequency.
The same viewpoint can be considered form a female perspective. Depictions of females are commonly conventionally aesthetically pleasing. The source of that convention may be attributed to cultural factors as well as evolutionary and perhaps others that are unknown, but the modern day representation of sexualised beauty in the form of a curved body shape, flowing hair, and small waists appears prevalent. The depictions often appear to glorify the image as iconographic and aspirational for the female audience, simultaneously presenting the female in an empowered sense (liberty of sexual restrictions) via suggestive movements and clothing, while also ironically adhering to the patriarchy by appealing to typical male desires through visual matter. The appearances and mannerisms that are portrayed might become symbolic to the female audience as role models for attaining liberation, however the definition of liberation in this case is simply being independent sexual beings, free from all judgement of the ego of themselves and of others. This absence of judgement, as has been previously outlined, is what brings us closer to oneness – closer to love.
With sexual energy being fundamentally ingrained into both our physiology and psyche, it is no surprise that those seeking personal gain will develop ways of capitalising on our universal desires. The assumed promise of sexual experience is to reach a state higher than our ordinary, and to release dopamine in our system. The semiotics of such experiences are exploited and manipulated, in order to initiate a sense of superficial connection to the media which is being presented. This cycle of dissatisfaction is regurgitated with every new piece of media that follows the same old convention – being responsible for inflated ego (in terms of both negative and positive self-affirmation) in both males and females that is output in the ways outlined in this chapter.