Secret Sex Storytelling Devices! How Hollywood Uses Subliminal Sex Messages to Make Hit Films!

By Ronald K. Armstrong

Have you ever wondered why certain films became hits? It’s not necessarily because they had excellent scripts, great actors or big budget effects. Hollywood’s dirty little secret is subliminal sexual content.

I’m not talking about the hot girl standing next to a sports car—that’s too obvious. I’m talking about the subliminal visual metaphors that Hollywood regularly uses as storytelling devices, and that often go unnoticed. The dirty little secret is that sex sells. Hollywood writers and producers have figured it out and developed a visual language to use it in film. Many people don’t notice subliminal iconography, but once you understand it, you’ll be able to decode it and use it in your own films.

Does this all seem unbelievable? I could cite hundreds of examples, but let’s look at a few big box office hits. Star Wars, the original Ghostbusters, the Harry Potter films and 2001 A Space Odyssey are globally successful films that use subliminal sexual imagery. For more information subscribe to my YouTube Channel at:

The largest component of these subliminal images is the symbol of the phallus. In Ghostbusters, this is symbolized by proton packs, as the guns represent the phallus shooting semen. The wizards in Harry Potter use their wands to release streams of magic, which also parallels the phallus releasing semen. Light sabers are a prominent phallic symbol used in Star Wars and the scene that shows Luke Skywalker shooting a torpedo (sperm) into the Death Star (egg) is a particularly explosive use of sexual imagery. In2001 A Space Odyssey, the ship is shaped like a sperm cell which impregnates the planet (the female egg,) and the last scene shows the birth of a baby in space.

These are just a few examples of the most obvious uses of sexual symbols in film. Now that you understand the technique, you’ll be able to spot them in other films.

Subliminal sexual imagery also works in reverse. Many films that lack or misuse sexual symbols are unsuccessful. The new Ghostbusters remake features a female cast and failed to meet expectations because viewers don’t like to see women brandishing phallic symbols. Westerns with female leads and war movies starring female soldiers face similar fates. It seems that women and phallic symbols go against accepted cultural norms, leading to box office disaster.

Effective use of subliminal sexual images can fertilize the imagination and impregnate stories with added depth that attracts viewers and leads to big, big success!

Author's Bio: 

Ronald K. Armstrong is an award winning writer and filmmaker. For industry contacts, jobs, casting calls, and news sign up to his newsletter: