Sunday, May 10, 2015

Re: Artistry of Nudidity: Men Exposed on the Silver Screen posts

This post is a bit of explanation in response to an anonymous comment directed toward my two latest posts. Artistry of Nudidity 4: Men Exposed on the Silver Screen and Artistry of Nudidity 3: Men Exposed on the Silver Screen

Did you know, there was one year between the first female full frontal in cinema and the first male. Yet people like you continue to peddle the myth that women were always naked and men censored. Lies. just plain lies to justify further male objectification. Not all gays think the same way.

Why the hostility? We are not in disagreement. This blog is titled the Artistry of Men, consequently it focuses on men, males are the topic. It is intended to entertain, it does not pretend to be a thorough in depth historical publication. There are colleges and universities for that. I'm sure we can all agree that historically males have dominated society and the film industry, and Hollywood has always been a lot more eager to provide female nudity as entertainment than it has to provide male nudity. A heterosexual male market is going to be willing to shell out money for tickets to see nude women, to see nude men...not so much. Women have long been sexually objectified. With the growth of feminism and societal acceptance of homosexuality, male sexual objectification has just about caught up. Good or bad, it is what it is. 

Agreed, all gays don't think the same way, nor do all straights think the same way. I would like to think we can all get along despite the different ways that we all think. Aren't we preached to daily that diversity is a virtue? Let us embrace our differences. If we all thought the same way how boring a world it would be.

As a former actor myself, yes, I am very much aware of the early full frontal nudity of both sexes in the American cinema. After Hollywood began their censorship of nudity, however, it was many long years before frontal nudity was again seen in American films. Up until the early 60s you couldn't show a belly button, of either sex, in a mainstream film. Showing a butt, breasts or genitals was absolutely taboo. Female nudity was gradually accepted long before male nudity, especially frontal nudity. That's not a judgement or objectification it's merely factual. Several decades ago, if a woman did a nude scene it was the end of her career as a serious actor, she would never get her name above the title and would be relegated to B movies. Remember, "Art films, Nudies!" ~ Valley of the Dolls. 

After that initial negative stigma, a slow but persistent revolution began among Hollywood's actresses, a trend where women who were already 'stars' began of doing nude scenes. For some it even became an act of defiance to end their 'goodie goodie' image, like Julie Andrews baring her breasts in one of, her husband, Blake Edwards' films. Eventually this transitioned into a culture where if you plan on being a big star, a headliner, you will have to get a nude scene(s) under your belt, so to speak. I was pointing out in the opening of these posts that society's moral qualms over male nudity on screen has in recent years been fading away just as it did decades earlier with female nudity, and further, that just like the female actors in the past the male actors of today are following the similar trends. But it seems to be happening more rapidly. And whereas, females were perhaps initially pressured by studios to show some skin it seems the men are pushing the envelope on their own accord. If the censors had not, shall we say, interfered, way back when, there would likely have been little difference between the sexes in regard to movie, theater and TV nudity, a point to which we have almost arrived.

Men have had a history of being nude in public for a long time, just not in the post censor American cinema. School swim classes and competitions in the nude for males were fairly common up until as late as the mid 70's in some parts of the country (I've mentioned this and posted some photos in 'Old Time Nudidity' and plan on going into more detail in a future post,) These young male students were swimming competing naked in front of mixed sex crowds including students, faculty, family and friends. Photos of the naked winning team were taken and published in newspapers, proudly displaying their ribbons and trophies. Often photos were taken of nude swim team boys along with their fully clothed coaches, some of whom were female. Males also swam nude at summer camps, church camps, the YMCA and in Health Clubs all over the country. Nudity was required, swim suits were prohibited, the original reason being that the fibers from the men's wool suits clogged the pools filters. Public tolerance has certainly changed over time and if a coach was seen naked with a student or if a school made students swim nude today there would be law suits and arrests and jobs lost. But at the same time the public today has come to tolerate nude protesters, nudity in gay pride parades, in print ads, on stage, on cable TV and on the silver screen. Society is fickle, what it will tolerate ebbs and flows.

Whether or not one approves or whether or not it is right or wrong, this is not the issue. In my post I contend that with the new found freedom, due to the loosing of restrictions from the censors, male actors are trending to include some nude scenes in their repertoire, often to promote their careers. It's becoming the 'in thing' to do. It's macho or ballsy to show your balls, along everything else, on screen, and if you want to compete for the most macho you will show yourself a bit tumescent, or even erect. There are as I stated in the blog those who, for the sake of realism, have made their sex scenes real, not simulated, i.e. Ken Park and Short Bus (to name two there are several more examples but that's another post). There are actors, male and female, who have revealed to interviewers that they refuse to use modesty patches for their love/sex scenes and even some that attest that the sex in a particular scene was in fact real. I fully expect that the time will come when the filmmakers will require actual sex in their films. A history of stripping/nude dancing, escorting/prostitution and making porn is no longer the kiss of death to an actor that it used to be. I can even be used as a positive giving an actor the bad boy/girl, rebel air.  The lines separating porn and legit acting have been blurring and at some point will disappear altogether. Good or bad, right or wrong, it is the way our society is evolving or devolving depending on how you see it.

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