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Sexual Repression as a Tool to Control Underground Culture

by Simon Wiscombe

The setting of Demolition Man is a dystopian future: a future in which the established order has created a perfect society. This perfect society is free of any crime, largely due to an extremely strict enforcement policy of all laws--there is no gray area to be interpreted. This perfect society is largely a byproduct of the ideal of the upper and middle class, white, heterosexual, and socially conservative demographic. The underground society, as a contrast, is typified by this caste's perception of the lower-class and largely minority lifestyle, and is the constant tale of the underprivileged attempting to rise up and overthrow the establishment. It is a typical case of dystopia. I propose, however, that the method of control the dystopian society is the repression of sex. Specifically, the repression of sex in Demolition Man is an attempt by the establishment to suppress the populations of both minority and homosexual populations. 

The excuse for the suppression of sex in Demolition Man is a direct attempt to thwart the rapid spread of deadly sexually transmitted diseases throughout society. The historical context of the early 1990s is especially relevant in this case. It has been well established that the fears arising during that time period with regarding to AIDS was directed toward homosexuals and the minority population (as rampant within and as having caused it, respectively). Sandra Bullock's character mentions even more STDs, equating them in gravity to AIDS, to propose the notion that the spread of such diseases are a rampant problem in society and the only way to "fix" the problem was to ban "fluid transfer" altogether. This is essentially an assertion that blind abstinence is the only correct solution.

The outcomes of this ban are many, all of which are an establishment of a hurdle for the poor minorities, the homosexual, or both. The stated outcome is to remove the pleasure from sex, forcing people to go to a clinic for procreation purposes. These clinics, undeniably, cost money, which automatically establishes itself as a barrier for low-income persons. This doesn't even take into consideration that the new form of sex, this mental transfer of pleasure, requires the purchase of these sex-helmets. The second, the notion that it must go through an official party means distinct social barriers. That is to say, a filtration effect occurs, allowing for the weeding out of "weak" genes or unapproved connection (i.e. that which society disapproves), of which homosexuals fell into during the early 90s homophobia craze.

While science fiction films are known for their dystopian futures, most of which have racial and homophobic undertones, Demolition Man is unique in that it directly approaches sex from a societally controlled perspective. It delivers a new boundary in which it explores the method by which sexual suppression is a means of controlling the underground society.

Demolition Man and Cybersex

Contrasting the ideals of virtual and real sex in the cinematic imaginary

from Demolition Man (1993)
Creator: Marco Brambilla
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Posted by Critical Commons Manager