More than a century of cinema (and busy porn manufacturers) gave you almost unlimited potential answers. Yet, sad to say, no one slavered over the chemistry in It Happened One Night. We were struck by a few patterns in the data:
Ingrained gender bias led us to suspect that males would gravitate toward porn, while females would cherish memories from movies with actual plots. A man and woman answering in tandem confirmed the stereotype: “For him, our own homemade porn. For her, scene in Atonement, up against the library wall.” (Atonement, by the way, was a popular highbrow answer among the ladies, as were other “up against the wall/sink/stairs” scenes of forbidden passion.)
Our hunch was partially borne out by our unscientific analysis. Those who offered generic answers such as “anything with 69 (gay or straight)” or “first insertion of anal” tended to be, yup, guys.
But men seemed almost as likely as women to fixate on a favorite scene in a film not generally regarded as smut: “In Shame, when Michael Fassbender is nailing a prostitute against a picture window in a high-rise hotel in NYC,” one dude wrote. Another won’t soon forget “Naomi Watts and Laura Harring getting to know each other better in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive.”
Women had vivid memories, too: “When Mila Kunis and JT first hook up in Friends With Benefits,” a twentysomething woman wrote. “They’re comfortable, hilarious, and say exactly what they want.” “It’s not about the sex scene for me; it’s the build-up chemistry,” wrote a pansexual female.
And it was a thirtysomething bi female who lamented, “Porn has erased any movie sex scenes I may have retained.”
We found significant overlap between your answers this year and last time we asked this question, in 2009, which suggests either that (a) Hollywood doesn’t make sexy flicks like it used to; or (b) Y’all gotta see more movies. Indeed, many of your choices were premillennial.
Among the perennial favorites were Secretary, Sirens, 9 1/2 Weeks, Wild Things, Top Gun, Fatal Attraction, Monster’s Ball, Body Heat, The Big Easy, Last Tango in Paris, Bound, American Beauty and Unfaithful.
We did notice one big up-and-comer (pun intended): Men and women alike, especially straight twentysomethings, enjoyed the lesbian scene in Black Swan.
Some of you didn’t take our question entirely seriously. Or did you? Anyway, 10 of you chose the explicit scene of marionette-on-marionette action in the 2004 comedy classic Team America: World Police.
Is puppet sex a thing? Were you trying to be original? Or do you just find it hard to do anything but laugh at fake movie sex? “Showgirls hot-tub scene — mostly because it cracks me up,” a thirtysomething woman wrote.
The greatest divide we identified wasn’t between men and women but between those who got off on screen action and those who didn’t see the point. “They’re all kind of the same. Feh,” as one respondent put it.
“I think books are sexier,” one man proclaimed. Hey, that gives us an idea … though we sincerely hope you wouldn’t all choose Fifty Shades of Grey.