Stupid Tuesday questions, Dante Alighieri edition

“Sex Box.”

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson from “Sex Dwarf,” but no. No, friends. When I saw mention of the show “Sex Box” in the Twitter feed of one of The Daily Beast’s entertainment writers, I had no choice but to Google it. (His article about the program is so full of giddy double entendres it almost makes learning this show existed seem worthwhile.) What I discovered is an idea dredged from the stygian depths of my nightmares.

The initial run of the show was in the United Kingdom, which makes me think that “Black Mirror” wasn’t so much a sci-fi anthology series as some kind of clairvoyant documentary. It’s now burrowed its way to this side of the pond. Its premise is that after having sex people are flooded with oxytocin, a feel-good brain chemical that makes them more emotionally open and honest. Thus, troubled couples agree to have sex in a sound-proof on-stage box, after which they emerge and discuss their difficulties with a panel of sex and relationship experts.

In front of a live studio audience.

There is literally nothing about this show I find less than horrifying. Enclosing myself in a box for the purposes of getting busy while an audience outside waits around knowing what I’m up to? Appalling. (Given that I can think of no more anti-priapic a set of circumstances than the ones surrounding entry into that godforsaken box, I fear I’d be forced to admit a lack of success upon exiting. I would rather commit Japanese ritual suicide.) Chatting about my relationship with TV experts? Ghastly. Knowing that anyone (my coworkers, my mother, jerks I’d hated in high school, etc.) could tune in to watch? Mortifying. All of this while being forced to wear satin pajamas emblazoned with the words “SEXBOX” on the pectoral? No thanks.

And this is to say nothing of the hair-raising aftermath, when any trip to the grocery store held the potential to be accosted by random strangers (or, worse, people I know) saying “Hey, didn’t I see you on that TV sex show?” I’d have no choice but to bludgeon myself to death with a canned good.

I’m not here to judge, and it seems that people who’ve actually appeared on the show say it did them good. Kudos to them. For my part, volunteering to be chum for the next “Shark Week” would be preferable.

So that’s this week’s (admittedly now quite sporadic) Question — if you were to design a reality program perfectly fitted to your screaming nightmares, what would it be? If Allen Funt and Beelzebub were to collude on a show to torture you, what would it look like? What details and nuances would make it fittingly hellish?

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68 thoughts on “Stupid Tuesday questions, Dante Alighieri edition

  1. Sex Box, Sex Box
    You’re my Sex Box

    “Black Mirror” wasn’t so much a sci-fi anthology series as some kind of clairvoyant documentary.

    IIRC Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker made exactly that same point in RE: Sex Box in his year-end Wipe for 2014 (it’s sort of a combo of “Daily Show” and Dave Barry’s “Year in Review” pieces).

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  2. 1. Welcome back. I hope that we were able to maintain questions up to your standards of stupidity ;)

    2. It would probably involve me having to watch popular culture TV shows and discuss them.

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  3. A reality show in which I’m boiled alive in shit while vomit-sicles are stabbed into my eyes sounds awful. But I can’t imagine that ever really happening.

    In terms of what is plausible, I’d say the “Survivorman” type shows would be torturous for me. I don’t like being alone. I don’t like being outdoors. I’d last about 10 minutes before I was begging the coyotes to eat me.

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    • Someone got half their face eaten off by live squirrels. That was an insurance claim, right there.
      I can certainly see you being forced to eat shit coming straight out of someone’s bum…

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      • Wow. Imagine how much worse it would have been if they’d gotten half their face eaten off by dead squirrels.

        And I realize I’m lately far less present hereabouts than I used to be, so I’m hardly a figure of staggering authority, but can I politely ask that you refrain from reference to such revolting notions as coprophagy until I’ve had more coffee?

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      • Kindly wait to read this until after you’ve finished your coffee…

        Civet Cat Coffee. Good to the last dropping!
        (Yes, I made a custom bag and everything (it was a gift). Civets are pretty beasts).

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  4. “Given that I can think of no more anti-priapic a set of circumstances than the ones surrounding entry into that godforsaken box”
    … really? I think your imagination needs work. Either that or your knowledge of Japanese game shows.

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  5. It would involve going into bars and trying to attract women while being watched by millions of people for their pleasure. Every other man in the bar would be a six-foot tall stud and many of the women would be stunningly statuesque beauties to. I’d be my normal self.

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    • Didn’t they have a reality show like that? “Regular Joe” or something? The attractive woman was courted by 25 average-to-geeky guys, then when they were down to the final 10, a group of studs was introduced into the house as well.

      There was also a show with a guy, I want to say in his 30’s, who had to pick Bachelor-style from a group of women in their 40’s, and also from a group of women in their 20’s. I watched quite a bit of that one. Horrifying. It came down to the youngest of the older women and the youngest of the younger women, and in the final decision, he chose the youngest of the younger women.

      I’ve heard it said that if you ask a guy what he’s looking for in a woman, he’ll give you a thoughtless answer. If you ask him, no, really, what are you looking for, he’ll give you a serious answer with a lot of detail. Then if you ask him, no, really, what are you looking for, he’ll say, the woman I just described, but a little younger, and bigger breasts.

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      • Like everything else, there’s a lot of variation.
        Some guys, you’d get “someone who’s easy.”
        Others are looking for T&A specifically.
        Some guys like lesbians (no, really.)

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      • There are varieties of this but my nightmare scenario involves me competing for really conventionally attractive women of various types from the tall and stunning to the petite and cute with the most handsome men in the world. All this with people watching and able to participate and make things more complicated. Really elaborate versions have panels of shippers that could unlateral decide that if a woman choses me for some reason that she would be better off with someone else.

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      • Kim, there are a lot of variations, which is what question 2 gets to. But if you ask question 3, the consistency of the reply would probably surprise you.

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      • Yeah that happened on Average Joe. Dahlia Lithwick wrote a column about how they were not actually Average Joes:

        http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/television/2003/11/all_geek_to_me.html

        This article says that the hotties were introduced in the end and IIRC the Joe lost out to a hottie millionaire who lived with his parents. Also all the Joes seemed to be Jewish and the woman was not.*

        *One wonders if NBC was telling these guys “Why don’t you find a nice Jewish girl?”

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      • I followed the link. “…he had revealed that he once sat outside his sick girlfriend’s apartment with soup for six hours—while she cheated on him”. What does that mean? He waited for her to be finished? He withheld soup because he was angry at her about a fling? I’m fine living the rest of my life not knowing, but really that’s such an odd partial anecdote that I’m surprised the author didn’t flesh it out a little.

        Anyway, yeah, Average Joe. The first few years of reality TV, when they put normal people into contrived situations, before they started to put contrived people into normal situations.

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    • I think I would actually be alright with that one for one reason alone: I could cheat by not really trying. I’d be at a bar, presumably the show would supply the drink and snack budget – hopefully somewhere in the whole place, I could find at least one person to have a decent chat with over a few beers and a burger.

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  6. Oh, that show would be my nightmare.

    Though one in which I was forced to confront a phobia in front of a studio and television audience would be similarly horrifying.

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  7. if you were to design a reality program perfectly fitted to your screaming nightmares, what would it be?

    The producers of Fear Factor may have crossed that rubicon some time ago. When that show first started, it involved an interesting mix of daredevil type stunts with challenges like sticking your hand in a vat full of snakes or eating a live grub. Over time, it migrated to being almost all about the latter sort of thing. It wasn’t so much about people confronting fears as it was about watching how much humiliation and suffering someone was willing to put up with for a shot at fifty grand.

    There was an episode involving drinking – or maybe eating as there was likely some chewing involved – a number of whole blended rats. I would have thought that it couldn’t get much worse than that, but then I came across a YouTube video of an episode that involved contestants throwing a horseshoe at numbered target to decide how many ounces of donkey urine or semen they would have to ingest.

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    • Fear Factor mostly did gross things, but I remember one game where the contestants had to walk out on stage naked, in a room full of spectators and cameras.

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  8. Good God, this show is up there. Here’s another. Some kind of parenting competition. Like, who could make the cutest Elsa cupcakes while remaining charming while a toddler screams. Because not only would I not be able to do that, I could not contain my rage at being expected to.

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  9. Given that I can think of no more anti-priapic a set of circumstances than the ones surrounding entry into that godforsaken box

    Dr. Freud! Paging Dr. Freud!

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    • After 3 years, 2 1/2 of which were spent in jail, culminating in a long, drawn out trial, the jury is just about to read forgotten former celebrity Alex Winter’s verdict. Let’s go to Ashton, just outside the courtroom.

      Bill, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for for so long! I’m so hyped, I can’t wait to see the look on Alex’s face…

      Ashton, I’m being told the jury has just entered the courtroom and handed the judge the verdict. Let’s go there now.

      Judge: Ms. Foreman, have you reached a verdict?

      Jury Foreman: We have, your honor. In the matter of the People vs. Alex Winter, on the count of Murder in the First Degree, we find the defendent…

      Punked!

      [In pops Kutcher.]

      Dude, we got you soooooo good.

      [20 minutes later, show security manages to pry Winter’s hands off of dead Kutcher’s throat.]

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  10. I’ve hard about this show. It doesn’t strike me as any worse than the other reality show crap on TV.

    Worst nightmare: Existing in a world of nanny statists telling me how to live my life, what to eat, how to live, what to buy, and everything I should do, AND driving 15 miles below the speed limit, not keeping right, and maintaining lane discipline.

    Wait…That’s my life now!

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  11. “”if you were to design a reality program perfectly fitted to your screaming nightmares, what would it be?”

    You say that like the Kardashians weren’t an actual thing.

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  12. And FWIW, the more I think about Sex Box, the more I think I can successfully diagnose and offer advice regarding the sexual issues the couples are dealing with before they even go on the show.

    And so I give you Tod’s Tips to Better Sex Box Sex:

    Tip 1. Watch Out for the “Early Release!”: Are you having an entire session of sex in the five minute space in between the first and second commercial break on the Sex Box studio? If so, you may be suffering from premature ejaculation. Talk to your doctor about topical anesthetics that can help the moment last longer for you and your partner.

    Tip 2. Remember, Variety Is the Spice of Life: Missionary might have been good enough for your mom and dad, but most couples find that a variety of positions help both partners find better satisfaction. In the future, try not having sex in a box for greater range of motion.

    Tip 3. Help Your Partner Feel Relaxed in the Sex Box: Most couples report they are more likely to “let go” and enjoy themselves when they feel safe and comfortable. Because of this, having sex in a box in a television studio can lead to unsexy feelings of stress and anxiety. Try to counter this by building a sex box in your own home, and use whenever you feel the urge to get down, self pleasure, or even just cuddle.

    Tip 4. Watch Out for STDs: Sure, sex can be fun — until you get a sexually transmitted disease! Did the people in the sex box before you have colds? Did they wash their hands after using the restroom? Did they handle uncooked chicken or pork as part of their role-play? There’s no way to know for sure, and that’s why most doctors recommend you and your partner practice safe sex and remember to use condoms, latex gloves, and a strong bleach-based disinfectant to wipe down the studio’s sex box before “getting busy.” Remember, when it come to your health you aren’t just having sex with your partner in a sex box — you’re having sex with everyone who’s ever had sex in that sex box.

    You’re welcome.

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  13. All of this while being forced to wear satin pajamas emblazoned with the words “SEXBOX” on the pectoral?

    Well, now, I know what I’m getting you for Christmas this year!

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