It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out sex sells. You’ve heard it a million times before and you’ll hear it a million times more before you die. From movies to television shows to magazines to The New York Times Best Sellers, sex is everywhere we look. There are scantily clad models in nearly every ad we see. Whether we’re on the Internet, walking down the street or noticing the way PG-rated films seem to be pushing the sexual content envelope in unprecedented ways, it’s everywhere.
We idolize actors and actresses for their looks, not their talent (Exhibits A and B: Megan Fox and Channing Tatum). We plaster our phone wallpapers with hot models and reblog pictures of dudes with ridiculous abs on Tumblr, and it’s totally and completely normal (I’m guilty. Of all of it.). A big news day for some people is when Perez Hilton unveils footage of another celebutante flashing her sugar bowl as she gets out of her car or when yet another actress’ phone gets “hacked,” spreading nude pictures across the Internet.
There’s no denying it and it’s nothing new. We’re a sex-obsessed culture. Yet, no matter how much it’s in the forefront of almost everything we consume on a daily basis, it’s still extremely taboo. From getting tested to the revelation of too-dirty details, most people would rather stay in the dark than potentially embarrass themselves with tough inquiry.
But it shouldn’t be like that. At least not according to Dan Savage.
Don’t know who Dan Savage is? That’s OK. I didn’t know who he was until I saw him as a guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” a few weeks ago.
Savage is an internationally syndicated sex columnist and star of the new documentary-style MTV show called “Savage U.” The program follows him and his producer, Lauren Hutchison, around the country as they visit various universities to give relationship and sex advice. They hold auditorium-filled discussions, group interviews, one-on-one chats and even hit local hotspots to ask students what the “sex culture” is like at their school.
So cool, this guy goes around and talks about sex all day and he’s totally charming and hilarious. Great, but why is this so special?
Dan Savage doesn’t just answer questions.
Dan Savage doesn’t just offer advice.
Dan Savage tells you what you don’t want to hear, when you don’t want to hear it and in words that would give your dear old grammy a heart attack. He confronts issues from all across the board: what to do on a first date, the proper way to hook up, why it’s important to get tested for STIs and so on. Nothing is off limits.
If you’re not familiar with Savage’s column “Savage Love,” his podcast “Savage Love,” his four books, the array of literary awards he has received or the published works he has contributed to, you might be more familiar with one of his most recent ventures, the “It Gets Better Project.”
Founded in Sept. 2010, Savage and his partner created a YouTube video hoping to inspire young people facing bullying and harassment. The video turned into a movement and has inspired more than 40,000 users to create video testimonials about how “it gets better.” These videos have garnered more than 40 million views and received the attention of public figures ranging from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Anne Hathaway and Colin Farrell, each of whom submitted their own videos supporting the cause.
Savage is breaking boundaries, helping build a more enjoyable tomorrow, fighting for equal rights and answering tough questions, all while maintaining a sidesplitting sense of humor and humility. He doesn’t come off as preachy or condescending and won’t exude sexuality in a way that makes you feel like you need to shower. What Savage is doing for this generation is important and unique. He’s infiltrating social media, blowing up my Twitter feed and dominating MTV with witty quips about difficult subjects. He takes the uncomfortable out of sex talks and fills them with a careful and casual sense of hilarity, as well as an overwhelming fountain of knowledge.
It’s almost impossible to watch “Savage U,” hear the questions these students are asking and not quietly thank God someone else asked it so you didn’t have to. Savage is starting the conversation in a way that’s accessible and relatable to young people everywhere. In a world where we’re constantly surrounded by sex, knowledge could change it all. So let me applaud Savage and let him know what he’s doing is groundbreaking and brilliant. I invite you to join me in experiencing the relevant, important perfection of “Savage U” at 11:00 p.m. every Tuesday on MTV, which is not paying me to write this, I swear.
— Hayley Rafner is a media studies junior.