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uma

Thank you my little Lance-stang! I knew you'd understand. You know... in a parallel universe, we're a smokin' couple and in a parallel universe, you're buck-naked on some magazine cover.

Matt

I think that what's different now is something you touched on briefly -- the digital revolution. Whereas nude scenes in the past could be done and then confined to the movie theatre, actors and actresses now know that their nudes scenes will be paraded around on the internet days after a film is released on DVD (or even before). The medium has more of a memory than it used to. And yet, that hasn't seemed to cause too many people to refrain from nude scenes, probably for the reasons you point out. In fact, if anything, such scenes seem to have become more common since the rise of digital media.

Moleman

Slight, personal nitpick on a subject that I'm really much too sensitive about- Kill Bill isn't really a homage to movies that are creepy ultra-violent video game fantasies, as nearly all of the movies it references (well, clumsily strip-mines, really) were released well before video games were capable of anything more complicated than Triangle vs Several Squares.

Lance

Moleman,

Good point, and well taken.

Linkmeister

I assume Ms. Thurman has her head on straight or she wouldn't have earned Lance's admiration. Ms. Knightley earned mine when I noticed a quotation from her in our paper (the kind of squib you see in the bottom right-hand corner of the entertainment pages). She sounded like Reggie Jackson. Paraphrasing: "I'm 22 years old! I'm no role model! I'm gonna make mistakes! If you use me as a role model you're crazy!"

Jennifer

You can use your body as you choose as long as you are the one choosing.

Some feminists get all upset when a woman uses her body as she sees fit...shouldn't choices regarding all uses of our bodies come with the feminist package?

Lance- you mention baring ones soul on screen as being more treacherous than baring ones skin. I would have to agree. My question, you bare your soul to us everyday on this blog... if you can do that, why no beefcake? I don't believe blogs add 10 lbs, but Philly Cheesesteaks might.

BanjoSteve

One thing that a lot of people seem to miss in discussions of male vs. female nudity is that women have a lot more nudity to show. In Brokeback Mountain, I'm sure that Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal spent more time topless than Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams, but we aren't inclined to count Ledger and Gyllenhaal's topless scenes as nudity. Breasts just don't have an equivalent on men. Men and women both have asses, and we saw much more of the men's asses in BBM than the women's. In general, I'd say that men's asses are more likely to be exposed on film than women's, though I'd need to see an empirical study. And men and women both have external genitalia, which get about the same amount of screen time.

Linnet

we aren't inclined to count Ledger and Gyllenhaal's topless scenes as nudity.

True. And maybe we should. Why should men's chests be considered any less sexual than women's, after all?

blue girl

Ok, I’ll admit to being really immature right here, right now. I do not have a problem at all with people getting naked in movies -- more power to ‘em -- but it is a huge distraction for me. I just watched “The English Patient” and there’s the one scene where Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas are in bed after making love -- and she’s showing more, ahem, skin than he is. Anyway. All I could do was stare at her boobs! I don’t remember what they were talking about, because all I remember of the scene were her boobs, and me sitting there wondering:

Is she comfortable showing her boobs like that? Look how little they are! What do the cameramen think? Was she walking around the set topless for a few minutes before they started shooting the scene? Or did she wait to get into bed before she took her top off?

I can go all third grade in two seconds flat. And why would I be so drawn to staring at a woman’s boobs? It’s not like I haven’t seen boobs before.

Am I the only one distracted by nudity in movies? I’m thinking no. (Unless you all are way more mature than me) And if that’s the case -- what’s the point of it? Is nudity in and of itself erotic? I say not so much. I found the one moment in The English Patient where he’s enthralled by the one part of her neck way more erotic than the nudity.

Regarding men naked in movies...lots of male actors are small men. Like, say Al Pacino. He’s a cool guy, but nope. Wouldn’t do a thing for me to see him naked. And other actors who I consider handsome and *not* small-ish, say Kevin Kline -- who I love -- I just saw him in a movie where in this one scene he’s walking around in only boxer shorts. And he’s built good -- but he’s holding his stomach in throughout the entire scene, kind of acting like he’s not holding his stomach in. Ick! I wish I never would’ve seen it.

Just give me a guy with a good behind in a pair of Levi’s and I’m happy.

Lance, you’re right. That Vanity Fair cover is ghoulish.

Rana

I'm not surprised that your actress friends had little discomfort with the idea of showing their boobs compared to showing their lower halves. While they're certainly very sexualized in our culture, and we know how men are attracted to them, but it's somewhat different living with them. Think about how many women call them things like "the girls" -- they're friendly sorts of appendages, without all the body-hating cultural freight that our "private parts" and cellulite-prone bottoms carry around them. One may be embarassed to bare one's breasts, but it's more likely that the audience will have a positive reaction to them than it will to the other parts.

At least in my experience. Obviously, ymmv.

Jennifer

bg- having been in many art classes and around many theatrical events where nude parts were common I don't find nudity that distracting. Or maybe it is a distraction from a lacking script! I will say though that I think it's pretty common to be comparing boobs. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and I don't know that anyone gets past wondering if theirs are more the norm than the ones they see on screen.

I'd agree with you though that major nudity has little to do with eroticism. A pair of hands, a smile, a bit of chest hair sticking out of an open shirt (I don't see why men feel the need to wax a hairy chest!)can be much more exciting than nudity.

I'm with you on the Levi's! Don't forget the big white shirt with sleeves rolled up.

Exiled in NJ

Pam and I were commenting last night on the fact that whenever Tony Soprano climbs into the sack with someone not Carmella, he keeps his boxer shorts on! T's lovemaking is usually under covers, but how amusing it is to think of his posterior hidden by his shorts. And most of the time he keeps his tank top on also.

Funny how all great minds should run in the same channels. At a time when all of us should worry and talk about our head asshole wanting to eliminate the Social Security death burial benefit, the one federal program never indexed for inflation, we concern ourselves with nudity. Then again, I suppose Keira, who is British, needn't have that problem.

tigtog

This feminist resents the style of the Vanity Fair cover without making any judgement at all on the individuals who chose to bare all: as you point out, they are gorgeous people who chose to show skin, and there's nothing wrong with skin.

The problem is that, as you attempt to rationalise, it's so overwhelmingly the female skin that gets shown. Male model advertising a car - normal business clothes. Female model advertising a car - legs and cleavage galore, in an outfit that one definitely would not wear to a business meeting. Sure, catering to the male gaze is what the market deems attractive: and it's that double standard that feminists generally loathe.

You spoke of your actress friends' long discussions and dissembling to family regarding nudity on film. If your male acting friends weren't having these concerns about nudity, that actually says more than you seem to realise about the difference in what nudity represents depending on whether one belongs to the sexualised class or not.

If we lived in a culture where cars/beer/magazines were just as likely to be marketed without irony on network TV using pouty men in skimpy bathing suits as pouty women in skimpy bathing suits, and family restaurants all over the place had male as well as female waiters in itty-bitty uniforms there really wouldn't be a feminist problem with this.

tigtog

Addendum: having read the Vanity Fair blurb, I'm damn disappointed that Eric Bana backed out of the Speedo shot. Why isn't that hot actor catering to my gaze, dammit?

Reba

I have some possible answers to your question about why it might be easier for women to show our breasts than our rears. First, we see our breasts every day. While other folks might be fascinated by them, to us it's just part of the landscape - even if we feel we have really great breasts. Kind of hard to see your own ass, and no matter what you do, you can't see it straight on. Furthermore, we are given more grief about the size, shape and the effects of gravity and time on our asses than we are about our breasts. On top of that, there is the belief that you can't do anything (short of surgery) to change the way your breasts look, but you can "shape" your ass. Of course, there are plenty of work out routines that strengthen the muscles in your chest and thus change the shape and position of your breasts, but you don't see videos about chest-strengthening flooding the market. "Breasts of Steel" would be a rather intimidating thing to contemplate.

Does that help?

muddy

I was in a life drawing class in college, and generally the students appeared more embarrassed about the nudity than the models did. I wasn't embarrassed while they were modeling (well, you're busy drawing), but some would walk around afterwards to look at the drawings, still naked and engaging you in conversation. That was a little hard to take, they were no longer "on stage" as it were. (I hate when strangers want to chat when you just got out of the shower at the gym too)

One model, a stunning young woman with a slim but still very curvy figure, had the problem about showing her butt. But it was only about showing it to men apparently. Full frontal was fine for men, but no butt. By chance that day the students had chosen spots around the room with most of the guys on one side. She did the 1st pose with her back to the girls, and when it came time to change poses she absolutely refused to turn the other way and had a tantrum. Hell, she'd been naked in the room for 20 minutes by now. I felt annoyed at having to draw her butt and back twice - not much in the way of feature there, a couple of curving lines and you have it. I would have liked a face, a collar bone, a knee - something with some detail.

So when I drew her butt the 2nd time I rounded it up some, to entertain myself, a little artistic license at her expense. Hey - I'm not a photographer! ;-) She came around to look at the drawings after she got dressed and she got mad about it. Hell, it wasn't a caricature, I only rounded up a little. I wouldn't even know the difference if someone did that to my butt because I don't have a clear idea how it looks exactly. I said I may have lost my concentration by having to do the same drawing twice.

The funny part was later, when I brought it home, and the male roommates thought the 2nd drawing was the best butt ever. If she only knew.

Campaspe

It's a typical Leibowitz cover, overretouched and making the subjects look about as come-hither as the smoked-fish counter at Russ & Daughters. Actually, the smoked-fish counter is eminently droolworthy. What I wouldn't give for some of their sable right now ...

Where was I? The actresses are very beautiful and as a fair-skinned lass myself I am personally ecstatic to see such acres of alabaster, tan-free skin. But their expressions are glassy-eyed and vacuous and Tom Ford's pose just looks like a staged version of a Fashion Week air-kiss. It makes me cringe. I don't know why VF, an admirable magazine in so many ways, persists in posing ravishing young actresses in ways that make them look like tired call girls.

Pepper

Smoked fish! That was beautiful!

I was about to say that I never liked VF covers because everyone looks as if they have been killed and stuffed. The yearly "actress cover" is a chief offender. Last year's cover looked like Madame Tussaud's, which is unfortunate because everyone on the cover is so pretty.

I never worry when women want to get naked. I worry that there aren't enough female doctors, lawyers, politicians, Supreme Court justices ... I think that's what we should be complaining about. I'd also like it if more men got buck-naked. Like George Clooney. He can get naked for me any day.

tigtog

Here in Australia we now have close to or over 50% women undergraduates in medicine, law and veterinary science. Interestingly, entry level salaries in all these once high-status boy's-club professions have dropped in real terms since more women took them up.

Earl Bockenfeld

Lance, what a post. I didn't see the Vanity Fair cover, but I'll check it at a newstand. This post brought to mind a great person who is doing a great service to protect the bodies of celebrities. He's known as the Fake Detective [He's asked that no links be created to his page; a Google search turns his site right up], he's a retired Milwaukee policeman, who searches the internet for nude shots of the stars. Fake shots that he exposes are nude pictures, with the head/face of a famous star superimposed on someone else's body. When he finds a fake picture, he researchs it and comes up with the source picture, their name, and often some photoshop details, that he places on his website.

Consider the star that disrobes and exposes her body to the world, and then later her face shows up on someone else's body all over the internet. He does a service that I expect most stars actually appreciate, and shows a skill that is amazing.

tigtog

I have some questions about curvy nude body doubles for skinny actresses being seen as a happy solution to the question of the film nudity for modest female actors. In the cinema there's still more nude women up on the screen than there are nude men, which is the point the feminist objections started at.

harry near indy

lance, i have a suggstion:

how about you and gen. j.c. christian get together on the american street and talk about female nudity? it'll be 200 percent hetereosexual, i bet.

harry near indy

addenum.

i wanted to check this before i posted it.

nathan lane is openly gay -- at least google has references to it, so it's not like i'm libeling/slandering him. so i bet he was only professionally interested in ms thurman's bosom.

Lance

tigtog, I'm not sure I'd call body doubling a "happy" solution. I don't know where body doubles live on the Hollywood food chain, what they're paid, or what career path you have to follow to become one. I'm assuming that they are like artists' models, maybe even like stunt people. The post is about the pressure on actresses to take off their clothes and body doubles take away some of the pressure. Unless young actresses with great bodies are pressured into body doubling for more powerful actresses who have the clout to resist the pressure. I don't know. I read an interview with a body double who said she liked her job, got well paid for it, and thought of it like being a stunt double. The only pressure on her was to never tell anybody which movies she worked on so the actresses she doubled for wouldn't be embarrassed by having it revealed that they don't look good, um, revealed.

The double standard is a separate question.

Earl, it's a dirty job but someone's go to do it, I suppose.

harry, you know no one's as heterosexual as the General. I would look like a pansy in his manly, American presence.

Lance

Muddy, thanks for the funny story!

C, brilliant, as always.

Reba, Rana, I don't think I ever took vanity into consideration. I was 20 at the time and I thought all 4 girls were beautiful. And all four did have lovely breasts. But one of the girls who said she would only appear topless, who was my girlfriend at the time, was short and a little on the round side and while I liked her rear end she might have thought it was too big. Of the 4 girls, only 2 went on to have professional careers of any kind, the girl who was comfortable doing any amount of nudity and the other girl who said she'd only do a topless scene. And the first girl never did have to get totally naked, unless you count the movie I made, while the second girl did one topless scene before she called it quits after about 10 years on stage. She had no problem with the topless scene. She did complain once about having to play Helen of Troy in Troilus and Cressida in dominatrix gear---boots, a leather bikini top and a thong---because she felt she had to go to the gym for three hours every day during rehearsals and the run of the play to feel she looked good enough to be comfortable.

That discussion was about appearing naked on stage, by the way. All the girls wanted to go to New York, not Hollywood. Appearing before a camera on a closed set full of professionals is different than appearing live on stage in front of hundreds of strangers. Nowhere to hide, so to speak, and the lighting isn't designed to help and there's no cameraman to find your best angle. Two of those girls posed regularly for art classes, and my girlfriend posed for friends taking photography classes.

Gregory Thelen

Exhibitionism may not be the right word. Vanity hits the target. When I dreamed of acting, the vision included full frontal nudity, becasuse, as anyone who knew me at the time could vouch, I was a vain about my body as a man could be. I just knew evrybody wanted to see it and remember it. A nude scene from me would change the audiences, would reach into their souls. Yes, I was deluded, and my conviction strained (or broke) more than one relationship. I doubt that most actresses think differently. Today, after a workout, I still catch myself in the locker room mirror and think, that's a great body for a man pushing fifty. Today, I know that middle aged men's bodies are a specialty taste. Young women's bodies never go out of style.

The Viscount

One of the things that memebers of both sexes often miss is the fact that men and women react differently to nudity. There is an old joke that goes (summarsied and paraphrased) - "How do you turn on a women? - Cologne, tux, flowers, candy, good sense of humor, caress, kiss, laugh, cry etc. How do you turn on a man? Show up naked."

I don't claim to understand women any better than other men do, (ok I'm lying - maybe I do a little!) but one thing is for sure: What women find erotic is more subtle, more complex and usually more varied than what men do.

The Viscount

After returning to this post and re-reading my comments, I felt kind of embarassed. The thoughts I had in my mind were not as obvious as my comments - I kind of just dashed them off and moved on.

The point I was trying to make was that men don't exactly understand women's views and reactions toward nudity and sexuality and vice versa. Men favor obvious porn, but women like erotica and neither side truly gets the other's pespective. This is why magazines like Playgirl didn't really catch on the way Playboy did, and why you rarely see a man reading a Harlequin novel. If we are open-minded and mature, we learn to accept and work with those differences in an adult relationship.

Kent

I thought it was obvious. Actresses face more pressure to get naked in movies because men make most of the movies. Then there's the age thing. Young nubile actresses are often paired against older men and rarely the reverse. I have absolutely no doubt whatever that if I was ever in a position to be directing Jack Nicholson in a movie against any female lead I'd be begging him to keep his clothes on too.

According to Salon, men direct 96% of movies. And it's any surprise that actresses face more pressure to get naked? What happens when women direct movies? You get Denzel Washington getting about as naked as he's ever been in Mississippi Masala. Something that has apparently never occurred to any male director to ask him to do, much to my wife's dismay!

Just saying. Sometimes it's really not that complicated.

Nancy

According to Salon, men direct 96% of movies. And it's any surprise that actresses face more pressure to get naked? What happens when women direct movies? You get Denzel Washington getting about as naked as he's ever been in Mississippi Masala. Something that has apparently never occurred to any male director to ask him to do, much to my wife's dismay!

Damn right. It's time for more hot male actors to get naked.

But do naked cover women really help Vanity Fair? I thought VF's readership was mostly women interested in fashion. And if a het man wants a wank, is his first choice really going to be the cover of Vanity Fair?

Faux Real

Lance, I think this is a cheap summary of the situation and it's clear you could have gone into a deeper analysis of why women's nudity is the standard and why women are still the "sex class" onscreen and off.

ginmar

This whole thing smacks of the housework debate----rather than change the standards or actually talk about it, we just hire somebody to do the woman's work. Nudity or housework, it's still a dirty job, and some woman still winds up doing it. Meanwhile, women still face a different, more onerous standard than men, and some people still whine about 'feminists' when what they're talking about are strawfeminists instead.

Mike Schuler

When it comes to female/male nudity, it comes down to the classic economic theory of supply and demand. Demand: men demand more nudity/sex than women. THink about the number of subscribers to Playboy compared to those of Playgirl etc. Supply: many women are willing to do nudity so if one doesn't wish to, a replacement can be easily found. It also depends upon the actress - some do so in hopes boost their careers (Molly Ringwald) or to know that they are still hot (Jennifer Aniston).

Maria

There are on-line articles that mention that a year or so ago Keira Knightly was totally nude in a women's locker room and that a group of teen girls approached her for autographs, and Keira Knightly just stood there totally nude signing the autographs for them.

I don't blame men for not wanting to do full frontal nude scenes. Male genitalia are much more exposed in a nude scene than a woman's vagina is. And men will be judged in many different ways too if they go full frontal.

Amanda Luhrsen

Are you a lawyer?

This is the best argument I have heard in a long time, and my family is full of lawyers and people who make difficult arguments all the time.

props.

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