Think back to the last time you saw a love scene in one of your favorite movies. Did you see either of the participants reach in that nightstand drawer for some protection? Except in rare occasions, the answer is an overwhelming “no.” In the world of motion pictures where couples, lovers and even complete strangers tend to fall out of their clothes at the drop of a hat, no one seems to think about the consequences.
In real life, though, those consequences are many, from unwanted pregnancies to life-threatening diseases. Characters on the silver screen don’t need to worry about life after the credits roll, but everyone else most certainly does. The film industry could do much more than it does today to help promote a positive image for safer sex through condom use. In many scenarios it would make perfect sense within the flow of a film’s plot to have one character reach for or open a condom or other prophylactic. It isn’t done, though, because of a strange taboo among Hollywood heavy hitters. This should change, for public health reasons as well as character authenticity.
In the 1990s there was a distinct movement in the commercial hip hop industry to promote condom use, with some rappers even devoting entire songs to “jimmy hats” and the like. The movement had some success in, at the very least, causing listeners to think about condom use. The same can, and should, be tried on a larger scale in film and other forms of popular culture.
Characters need not pull out a condom right before on-screen lovemaking if the film’s producers do not wish it. Natural and believable situations could include having a character buy condoms online or at a store. Two friends may get into an argument over whether ultra thin condoms really lead to better lovemaking.
The point is this: film as popular culture needs to get over its taboo against on-screen condom use and discussion. This can be done in a way that is natural and enhances rather than detracts from story lines.