“Gossip Girl” is a television teen drama series that ran from 2007 to 2012. In this promo from a season two, upper-class protagonist Serena (played by Blake Lively) and middle-class poet Dan (played by Penn Badgely) are on a bus. Serena instigates a series of increasingly seductive gestures, first offering him a magazine, biting into a chocolate-covered strawberry and voraciously sucking her fingers, falling into his lap, and finally grabbing him and leading him towards the bus toilet where they hook up. The controvesial promo was part of a larger campaign designed to be shocking and provocative, using taglines such as “OMFG!” on billboards and posters. The campaign also appropriated negative press received from watchdog groups (“mind blowingly inappropriate” and “bad for you”), and turned the criticsim around as a way to brand the show and its racy content.
We often hear that “sex sells.” What does this mean? Why does sex sell? Why would the CW network use this racy and controversial scene to promote the show?
Who has more power in this relationship between Serena and Dan? What actions in this clip lead you to this conclusion? What things might lead one character to be more powerful than the other?
Do you think Serena’s actions are typical for women (in media or real life)? Do you think Dan’s actions are typical for men (in media or real life)? Why or why not?