I don't know about you, but there are a lot of times I read books (and even watch movies) and question if what I just read or saw was really necessary? Was that graphic scene needed? Did the author (or director) really have to add a sex scene that was really pushing the boundaries? Don't get me wrong. I am not someone who says that every book out there needs to be tame, but we still have to ask if the addition of these element is truly necessary.
My answer is pretty simple... It All Depends!
O.K. I know that you might be thinking I am waffling on this, but to truly answer the question, we have to go back to the academic world to clearly see what I am talking about.
When we write academic papers, we start with a thesis. This is what we are intending to prove in our paper. This thesis dictates EVERYTHING we do with our writing. I guides us when we pick research. It guides us when we select our organization and our voice. It controls EVERYTHING! When it comes to novel writing, the same thing happens here.
If you are writing a romance, adding of the graphic sex scenes is dependent on what you want the reader to get out of the story. If the focus is on the relationship, and you can write it without the sex scenes, then all the power to you. If your characters really do need to have that scene AND that scene is truly necessary for developing the plot and the characters, then adding it is fine.
The same goes for the language level in the story. I sometimes question if the author has the characters throwing out language that would strip the paint off of the walls. I am reminded of what I learned in my undergraduate work in literature. We were studying Vietnam literature and talking about the language level. A professor I had said, if you consider what these soldiers were going through, the use of that language was pretty much the only way to describe the situation. Think of stepping on a Lego or a Barbie Shoe in the middle of the night. Saying "Ouch" might not be the best way to describe the feeling. Get it?
I guess you can also ask yourself about adding in characters sexual orientation. I watched a show just recently where the directors added in a character who was gay. This character was in the book, but not gay. There were not even references that would hint at that sexual orientation. And yet, the director added this into the movie. In the end, the addition of that characterization did nothing to enhance the storyline, or even the understanding of the character. I do believe it was done just to meeting some political check list.
You have to constantly ask yourself if this is necessary. Like everything in writing, when you decide to add something to your story, it has to move the story forward, add something to our understanding of the characters, or even their relationship.