So the new Star Wars trailer appeared online, and I watched it along with hundreds of millions of people. And, like so many of them, I felt so moved that my eyes welled up with tears – but not as much as it happened with the heart-tugging commercial for the upcoming videogame inspired by the movies. As ridiculous as it sounds, this is perfectly normal: this is the effect the Disney marketing department had designed from the start, squarely positioning the whole Star Wars revival as a product aimed for fortysomethings nostalgics like me.
Without delving too much into topics better suited to cinephile websites, their reasoning goes: «we’re aware that the original films blew your mind when you were a kid with their groundbreaking special effects and storytelling; we know how magic they were for you, and how the second trilogy felt so soulless that it ruined all the fun and even your memories. But this time we’ll prove you that the magic is still alive, and you will be able to dream again like so many years ago». Thus everyone my age was instantly sold on the idea, for what can be more precious than your dreams?
Now, www.ayzad.com is of course a kinky website, so this post is not really about Lucas’ movies. Actually, I’d like to draw a parallel between the emotional connection so many of us have for our childhood heroes and our sex lives. Bear with me as I take Star Wars as an example, and walk you through a path you may well have gone through with other entertainment franchises.
It all started with the exciting call of a novel experience, which knocked you out when you discovered it was even bigger, crazier and more fun than you expected. Then you reveled in it: you read about it, played with the toys, alienated your friends with your obsession, sought out more and more of it… and then the excitement wore off.
Maybe it was that shitty sequel, or the interview with a disgruntled actor who said he was in it only for the money, or seeing your heroes reduced to an insipid Saturday morning cartoon, or your exasperated partner asking you to dump all those toys to make room for an adult living space. Whatever it was, you suddenly saw the mundane reality behind a long-faded glitter wash – and the fun was nowhere to be found anymore. Your fanatic friends began looking very silly indeed, and you quickly moved on to other, more mature interests. Bet you’ve been there too.
This is where I want you to substitute the childhood passion you were thinking about with the word ‘sex’. Or better, with ‘kink’. Depending on your age and level of ennui, you will more or less rapidly realize how erotic fantasies often follow the same parable.
I have lost count of the acquaintances, friends and clients I’ve heard stating «I’ve put it all behind me» – some of them gloomily, some smirking and most of them puzzled. In fact, while losing touch with a favorite television show or comicbook hero may feel disconcerting at first but entirely survivable, to feel disconnected from the kind of eroticism that frequently defined your very self until then is nothing less than scary. What about all those wet dreams, those countless hours spent looking for the ideal bedroom match, that sex toys stash and the time spent using them? What about the pains – sometimes literal – you underwent to fulfill your pornographic fantasies? Were they really only monuments to your shallowness and insecurity, just something to hang on to in order not having to grow up, even when it meant going through the motions without really enjoying it that much?
There is no set answer, obviously. Kinksters generally ruminate about their impulses long enough to develop a more ethical and less neurotic sexuality than “vanilla” people, but this doesn’t automatically exempt all of them from the above. More often, however, growing past one’s passions (or obsessions…) is simply a natural consequence of having attained whatever satisfaction we had associated with them and choosing a new, different goal. Independent adults don’t need to vicariously live the power fantasy lives of their childhood superheroes anymore; people in a stable relationship learn they can get anytime all the sex they want with their beloved partners so they can finally slow down; with time BDSM types get the chance to experience a multitude of games and prove themselves up to their original role expectations, so their need to show off or outclass themselves eventually wanes. There is nothing inherently bad in this.
The real problem arises if no new passion replaces the former one, leaving just a hole in your soul. We sure can sleep well even without our old Harry Potter bedsheets and be proud of a grownup’s designer duvet, but when it comes to sex things are very different indeed. Due to the prevailing cultural bias, sexuality is still commonly expected to be a “phase” to eventually outgrow and forsake, so changing inclinations often translates into quitting it altogether – leaving our libido with nowhere to strike but against ourselves, thus causing all the kind of troubles psychotherapists are so grateful for. And this is where Star Wars can teach us something important.
Look, we all know it’s easy to be jaded and bored. The older we get, the more familiar we become with all the backstage trickery that dazzled us in the beginning. Be it a CGI spaceship or the most alluring sex game, we eventually learn how it is really done and from that moment on we can’t stop thinking of the cold reality of it all. We may appreciate the technique behind it, but our heart isn’t just moved as before. ‘Putting it all behind us’ may be the instinctive response – but it is not necessarily the best.
As a matter of fact, instincts are for beasts. We can be better than that and choose not to give a fuck about the wizard behind the curtain, focusing just on whatever had hooked our imaginations from the start. Believing in fairies (or Jedis) may sound silly, but it does warm the heart – and so does giving ourselves permission to be turned on again by our favorite erotic fantasies, even when they are as uncomfortable as dressing up in latex or patently absurd like addressing somebody as ‘Master’ or ‘slave’.
This takes of course a modicum of skill, but luckily for us Disney corp., the best emotions manipulator in the world, laid the blueprint bare for all to follow. Watch those trailers again, and you’ll see a number of principles into play:
- Fancy visuals and loudness are just dressing. The focus is on touching the soul of your audience
- Strong emotions always overshadow silliness
- Using mnemonic hooks such as a beloved music or visual instantly brings good memories and a good feeling back with it
- A very little variation on what you were used to is all it takes to make it intriguing again
All of the above can be readily applied to our sex lives too. Should you one day grow disillusioned with your erotic lifestyle, the first thing to do is not to worry: having a flexible sexualilty is just fine. If however you find yourself longing for the old magic, here’s the recipe to rekindle your passion.
First and foremost, talk with your partner and serenely explain what you are feeling and that it is not their fault, but you’ll need their support to explore new games together with the same open mindedness, curiosity and enthusiasm you shared when you started playing together.
Then take a conscious decision to dive into it without undue sarcasm, self-mocking, restraint, irony or any of those defense mechanisms people usually build over time. Enjoying life is serious business, and you must be open to expose yourself to its stimuli. Nobody ever got butterflies in their stomach while entrenched in their comfort zone.
Make an effort to appreciate every little detail of your experience. Poets (and fetishists) are those who can focus on the minutiae and savor them in full.
Actively seek to recreate at least one or two stimuli from your arousing past and include them in your play session. Perfumes and smells work wonderfully in this regard, and so do music.
You don’t have to turn your preferences around to make things interesting: introducing a couple of new details is enough to shake habits off and see quality time under a new perspective. If it is your partner you have grown bored of (hey, it happens!) try some role playing to see them in a new light and to discover sides of your personalities you might have never explored before. This is another area in which it takes very little to go far: just like with theatre, a couple of items usually suffice to convey the idea of a full costume and role – and don’t underestimate the power of masks.
If these suggestions sound odd or stupid to you, that’s part of the problem. It is not the game itself, but how you are taking yourself too seriously and have forgotten how to play. Try giving it a chance anyway, and you will be amazed by the results. Because, after all, the main lesson learned from this whole The Force Awakens affair is this:
- Your wildest dreams are still all true: just let them in
You can be jaded or jedi – the choice is yours.