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Six Feet Under

Press Release - 12 September 2005

Death is the new sex for popular TV

The new sex: the rise of the dead body in popular culture

From CSI: Crime Scene Investigation to Six Feet Under, the corpse has become the star of popular culture. Films such as Reservoir Dogs and the Passion of the Christ parade the tortured body as spectacle, while detailed explorations of eroticized and rotting corpses are common televised faire.

The reality TV series, Family Plot, showcases the funeral home and features cadavers as main characters, while the most popular TV series in the United States, Desperate Housewives, is narrated by a dead woman.

Showtime’s Dead Like Me, a series about a group of grim reapers who help people cross over into the after life, is a critical success, while the HBO series, Actual Autopsy, in which real human bodies are dissected, is a ratings hit.

Holograms of decedents, starring in films about their ‘lives’ are featured at Hollywood cemeteries, while the ‘speaking to the dead’ social trend is a popular social movement. Real and fake corpses are for sale on the Internet.

Despite these developments, the cadaver is viewed as the body’s most polluted form in western civilization, something to deny, disguise, and hide. And yet in our youth and beauty obsessed culture, dead celebrities are more popular than live ones and any story about the gruesome murder of a pretty victim is a national obsession.

To explore this recent pop cultural phenomenon and our attraction and repulsion to the corpse, I will argue that:

Jacque Lynn Foltyn (National University, California)
Tel: +1 858-642-8469

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