‘Netflix and chill’ apparently does just mean watch TV – Aidan Smith

Netflix is apparently ruining our sex lives but David ‘Hot Tub’ Cameron may have found a solution, writes Aidan Smith.

Tuesday, 14th May 2019, 7:00 am
New research has found people in the UK are having less sex and part of the reason is they are too busy watching TV shows on streaming services like Netflix

With its gentle, almost muffled, very nearly apologetic “Ba-bong”, Netflix does not announce itself in our homes with tremendous fanfare. But look at the havoc the streaming giant is wreaking.

It’s killing the traditional television networks including the auntie of them all, the BBC, and has nicked the nation’s grandfather, Sir David Attenborough, from the Corporation.

It’s killing cinema. Both movie-making – with directors complaining their creativity is being compromised by being nudged in the direction of happy endings – and movie-going.

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Was Liverpool’s failure to win the league the fault of Netflix? Perhaps. We might also ask for other offences to be taken into consideration, such as the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, Mars bar shrinkage, Brexit, the increase in the number of potholes on our roads, the decrease in the butterfly population. Why should Netflix be allowed to get away with any of this, scot-free?

It’s definitely a prime suspect in the death of pubs and the death of conversation. And now comes news – nay, the shock revelation – of the big one, the gravest charge of all: the death of sex.

According to the latest survey, bonking in Britain is on the decline. We’re getting considerably less jiggy with it compared with the start of the century. The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) isn’t usually wrong about such things, priding itself on being the most exhaustive of its kind. Other polls may be happy posting middle-aged women with clipboards outside Marks & Sparks, but Natsal goes further, which presumably means researchers hiding under beds and in wardrobes. And what they’ve found is that we’d much rather snuggle up to our smartphones and tablets.

“In the digital age, there are more diversionary stimuli,” says Prof Kaye Wellings who led the research. Social media and Netflix are “likely distractions that may prevent intimacy,” she adds. Wellings accepts that “the sheer pace of modern life” may be a contributory factor – we’re simply too knackered. But she’s worried about this: “If we’re living in such a hectic age that we don’t have time for human connectedness then we do need to think about what’s going on.”

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Too true. The survey is most revealing about the drop-off in connectedness – shagging – among the over-25s because we already know that millennials aren’t much interested in sex. But if the human race continues like this then ultimately there will only be one outcome: no more us. Who can possibly save the species from extinction? Don’t laugh, but it could be David Cameron (more of him in a bit).

I must say that this detumescence in sexual activity among over-25s and especially those in long-term, stable relationships is no real surprise. I can well understand how a casual rummage through eBay for, say, the eight Hibernian football programmes needed to complete the collection can lead to extensive YouTube-ing of hippy rock festivals preferably involving King Crimson or the Mahavishnu Orchestra which then sparks a Simon Wiesenthal-esque quest for replacements for those copies of Mad magazine lost in a flitting tragedy before there’s just time to rev up Netflix – though invariably one is asleep before the “Because you watched ... ” suggestions pop onto the screen. I’m aware that some people do this and so is my wife. But what amazes me is the lack of interest in sex among the young. When my generation was in its teens right through to the early 20s this was pretty much all we thought about, even though we were sex maniacs of the non-practising variety.

The 1970s might have been sexist but they were also innocent, at least for us. Benny Hill may have chased a thousand dolly birds across parkland but when bra straps pinged on tree branches, modesty was preserved by conveniently placed bushes. As plooky yoof we may have worked up a Cremola Foam froth of anticipation for the classic Play for Today scenario of a Swedish au pair introducing a buttoned-up British crescent to fondue and other examples of free-spiritedness popular in her homeland but the three-day-week power cuts could just as easily deny us the opportunity to watch. I know because this happened to me.

Pornography was non-existent unless you counted those copies of Penthouse and Club International, loaned out for a fee by our school’s free-market whizzes, which didn’t have vital pages missing or stuck together. Incredibly, we emerged from all the blackouts, metaphirical and real, with little knowledge and even less experience but with sex retaining its mystique, something which I imagine is virtually nonexistent for young folks today.

One of the best shows on Netflix is Sex Education. Gillian Anderson plays a sex therapist whose teenage son decides to offer the same service behind the bikeshed. It’s surely one of the comedy-drama’s many good jokes to have everyone being sex-obsessed, in contrast to all the snowflakes out there right now. And, although a contemporary piece, to have the look of the 1970s, the properly sex-mad era. So, how to change attitudes to sex among the young, some of whom offer the excuse of being “too busy” to indulge? It sounds like they need to chillax, and there is no better man to show how this is done, no more proud inheritor of the “What, me worry?” catchphrase of Mad’s Alfred E. Neuman, than Cameron.

The former Prime Minister has just splashed out on a deluxe hot tub for his Cornish clifftop retreat. Now, this might sound a bit naffly nudge-nudge, a bit Benny Hill, but that never did my generation any harm. The cost of installing your own – £8,000 – is a bit steep so I suggest trooping round and asking him to let you guys borrow his. Frankly, it’s the least he should be doing.