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Distracted By The Sexy / Real Life

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  • Close to the edge of London, there's a certain roundabout with a series of large shops surrounding it. At some point in the past, one of the shops put up a fairly innocuous advertisement that happened to feature an attractive girl without an overabundance of clothing. The sign was removed about a month later after traffic incidents on that roundabout increased by about 75%.
    • The same thing happened with a Janet Jackson billboard sometime in the 1990s. If memory serves, it might have also been in London...
  • It was claimed that the Sex Sells advert for Wonderbra would cause car accidents.
  • Sports broadcasts always cut to the bleachers at selected times. And whenever the focus in on a pretty lady, this trope is possibly to blame, especially if it's a prolonged look (and at times it gets ridiculous). One case that reached Memetic Mutation is the "Stop girl".
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  • Played straight and subverted at the 2009 G20 summit. Presidents Obama and Sarkozy were on one side of the frame, and an attractive Brazilian intern on the other. Due to a trick of the still frame, it looked for all the world like the two were ogling the girl's backside. Video of the event shows that Obama was actually watching someone else's footing (they were on a staircase); Sarkozy... not so much.
  • Evidence for this trope in real life can be found here as well.
  • A British aquarium has had to put a bikini top on a mermaid statue in one of their fish tanks. The reason? The boys visiting the museum were too busy looking at her boobs to pay attention to the marine life.
  • The Taiwanese practice of having scantily-clad young women sell betel nuts from roadside booths is accused of causing traffic accidents:
    Taichung police has ordered the city's scantily-clad betel nut saleswomen to dress more conservatively to help reduce car accidents, it was reported. Under the new dress code, women peddling spicy chewing betel nuts at roadside stands are barred from revealing their bodies in sexy transparent clothes or soliciting business on the streets, the local TVBS station reported. Don't put on any dissipated poses such as dancing outside the sales booths, a policeman said while promoting the new dress code... Taichung police consider the so-called betel nut beauties a likely cause of traffic accidents in the central city as drivers are often diverted by saleswomen in flashy revealing clothes, the report said.
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  • Uganda considered passing a law banning miniskirts, ostensibly for this reason.
  • Barrister Alex McBride in his non-fiction book Defending the Guilty tells how he was assigned to handle a bail application for a junkie who was pretending to be insane. He was too inexperienced to realise he was being conned until the junkie's stream of gibberish was interrupted by the sight of an attractive blonde lawyer bending over to pick up her pen, whereupon the junkie exclaimed: "Gawd, can I have her defending me?"
  • Dress reformers in the 19th c. introduced the "Bloomer costume" which consisted of a full knee-length skirt over baggy trousers tied at the ankle — not exactly revealing. Yet one leading feminist abandoned the costume because whenever she addressed an audience of men they were so distracted by her ankles that they didn't hear a word she said.
  • Commercial airlines invented the Sexy Stewardess trope because when their original (male) flight attendants gave warnings about emergency procedures, it scared the passengers so badly that some would insist on being let off on the airstrip. Replacing their stewards with good-looking women invoked this trope, giving their (mostly male) clientele something to think about besides plane-crash statistics. Supposedly the decision to make interface voices (like the recorded warnings on a plane, for instance) female, in general, follows similar logic.
    • That's not really a case of looks; more of not appearing manly by demanding to be taken off the plane. After all, if the stewardess was traveling by air and apparently not afraid. Of course, the more pretty a girl was, the more you'd want to appear macho and fearless.
  • It seems every other summer some city in Florida bans bikini-ed girls from performing any commercial (or charity even) activity on the roadside. Often citing traffic accident increases as the reason.
  • Phryne (NSFW) was a courtesan in Ancient Greece, known for being inhumanly pretty. When she was accused of blasphemy, one of her lovers defended her - and won the jury by stripping her naked in front of them. Shortly thereafter, they all unanimously decided she was not guilty. It Makes Sense In Context- the Greeks believed that Beauty Equals Goodness, or, more specifically, that beauty was a gift from the gods. Phryne's beauty was argued to be a sign that Aphrodite favored her, and as such she couldn't be a blasphemer since Aphrodite wouldn't have let her be so pretty.
  • During the filming of Iron Man 2, Scarlett Johansson's first appearance in the Black Widow costume caused the filmmakers to get distracted for a few minutes.
  • British Special Forces and some Army Intelligence units are trained to do long, boring, stake-out missions to gather intelligence from deep cover. This requires them to remain alert and observant for protracted periods of time, often spending hours just to gain fleeting glimpses of a targeted individual's comings and goings, and not to be distracted by the irrelevant incident. Training exercises sometimes provide distractions at crucial moments - say, as the mark is leaving the premises under observation to get into a car, an attractive woman will appear on the other side of the street and open her coat, revealing herself to be completely naked underneath. If the trainee can still note the time, make of car, registration number, other occupants, if any, and the direction it heads off in, and not get caught up in the distraction, then it's a big contribution towards a pass mark. If all he sees is the naked lady, then he has failed.
    • Penn and Teller copied this exact test for one of their Penn & Teller: Bullshit! episodes.
    • An important rationale behind magicians' Lovely Assistant. Very few magicians are good enough to fool audiences looking at their every move attentively.
  • A Man Called Intrepid detailed a female British spy who occasionally used this trick. After seducing a German cipher clerk, she needs to steal codes from a safe. She engineers a fake sex scene with the clerk to distract patrolling guards, deliberately letting them see her wearing only a shirt and underwear and appearing to put her clothes on frantically. The guards said they were sorry and left her alone for the rest of the night. (To the clerk's disappointment, she put her clothes back on and let a safecracker in.)
  • One urban legend claims that cheerleaders were first introduced as a distraction for the opposing team. Why they wouldn't also distract their own team is never addressed.
    • The Miami Floridians of the American Basketball Association had "ballgirls" that were essentially a combination of ballboys and cheerleaders. They would wear bikinis and do halftime dances in addition to helping with equipment, stat sheets, etc. They would sometimes stand under the basket when the opposing players were shooting free throws.
  • There was a news story in June 2014 about two drivers in Germany getting in a car accident because one was distracted by a rather shapely woman sunbathing nude with her lower half hanging out of a window. The other driver reportedly shrugged it off as an understandable mistake once the woman was pointed out.
  • In an example more "Cute" than "Sexy", the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery had the show stolen by Mallory Edens, daughter of one of the Milwaukee Bucks' co-owners. It helps she was 18, thus people could feel less guilty. The daughter of the Sacramento Kings owner also got some spotlight for the same reason.
  • Inside Star Trek The Real Story tells of when during filming of "What Are Little Girls Made Of?", William Shatner took guest star Sherry Jackson to lunch at the commissary while she wearing a bathrobe - which she took off in the commissary to reveal she was in her costume from the episode. It did NOT go unnoticed.
  • In 2016, Rob Lowe joined the cast of the TV drama Code Black as a regular, and ever since, the show's star Marcia Gay Harden has blithely joked about being constantly distracted by his sexy on set at least once per interview. Especially when he snaps his latex gloves, apparently….
  • This may well be the explanation for the infamous Best Picture mix-up at the 2017 Academy Awards. Brian Cullinan, a Price Waterhouse accountant charged with handing the envelopes to the presenters, tweeted a picture of Emma Stone right after she won Best Actress. He then handed the wrong envelope to Warren Beatty without bothering to check which one it was.
  • Very often inverted when Stanley Cup-winning players take the Cup to strip joints... and patrons forget all about the dancers and pay their undivided attention to the Cup.
  • When Joseph Geefs created L'ange du mal, a statue of Lucifer, for St. Paul's Cathedral in Liège, the finished product was considered to be too "sublime" and was thought to be distracting to the young women who should have been listening to the sermons. Geefs's brother, Guillaume, was then commissioned to create a different sculpture. His Le génie du mal is thought by some to be even sexier, though slightly more clothed.


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