A World Made Sexy: Freud to Madonna
Eroticism is a constant presence in modern society, encompassing almost every aspect of our daily lives. It is a product of one of the major commercial and political enterprises of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries: the cultivation of desire – desire for sex, desire for wealth, desire for entertainment. Paul Rutherford's A World Made Sexy looks at modern civilization's ongoing project to manufacture and encourage public wants, building a utopia where just about everyone (who is affluent) dreams, plays, and, of course, shops.
A World Made Sexy uses museum exhibitions, art, books, magazines, films, and television to examine the rise and purpose of eroticism, first in America but soon across the affluent world. Starting with a brief foray into the representation of history as past pornography, Rutherford explores a sexual liberation movement shaped by the ideas of Marx and Freud, the erotic styles of Salvador Dali and pop art, the pioneering use of publicity as erotica by Playboy and other products, and the growing concerns of cultural critics over the emergence of a regime of stimulation. In one case study, Rutherford pairs James Bond and Madonna in order to examine the link between eroticism and aggression. He further details how television advertising after 1980 constructed a theatre of the libido to entice the buying public, and concludes by situating the Eros project in the wider context of Michel Foucault's account of the administration of life, and specifically sexuality, during the modern era.
A World Made Sexy is about power and pleasure, emancipation and domination, and the relationship between the personal passions and social controls that have crafted desire."
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The Erotic Sell
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