We need more penises on our screens by O. Rickett
I’m not keen on nudity in movies and TV, but so long as the media are going to be lop sided and only show nude women, or show nude or scantily clad women more often than they do men, I think turn about is fair play, and therefore, male nudity should be shown in equal amounts.Though most women do not find penises attractive, but that’s not the point.
- Russell T Davies has got it right with Cucumber. We have a puritanical reaction to male nudity that is both sexist and a denial of the lives we lead
- Sex – whether we have loads of it or none of it – is a part of all of our lives. But on the screen, its depiction is often met with shock or silliness. Female actors are often objectified, the reasons for their nudity sometimes having little to do with character, and everything to do with satisfying the male gaze.In mainstream films and television, male nudity often falls into two camps. On one hand, you have the man whose nudity is threatening. He is, to paraphrase Jean-Paul Sartre, a hunter and his penis is a knife.
- On the other, you have the beaten-down man, his shrivelled member hanging uselessly between his legs as the subtext screams: “This man is pathetic.” Depictions of penises, then, provoke extremely mixed emotions. They are the totem of potency but also anxiety – one man feels great power in his penis while another feels terrible passivity, and it’s these two emotions that are almost always evoked by male nudity on the screen.
- The television producer and writer Russell T Davies, whose new show Cucumber features plenty of male-frontal nudity, has said that there is not enough of it on TV. “It’s only [seen as] rude because the rest of television is rather tame – it doesn’t actually talk about sex and our bodies and how we feel about them,” he told the Telegraph. Davies is right. Television remains in the grip of a strange puritanism, an unwillingness to recognise sex and nudity as a natural, important part of the lives we lead.
- ..This is something that comes up repeatedly. Joanna Coates, director of the independent British film Hide and Seek, which won the Michael Powell award at last year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, told me that because the film deals with sex and nudity openly and without shame, “some people assumed we were trying to be shocking”.
- Sex is central to the film, and the character’s attitudes to sex tell us something about their attitudes to life. Erect penises abound, but not as deliberate provocation and not in a way that’s meant to provoke schoolboy titters. If we react with shock, it’s our own reaction we have to interrogate.
- ….These schoolboy titters are all too often how we greet male nudity on screen. It’s like none of us moved beyond running around the playground in a circle squealing “Willy! Willy!”
- Male nudity hasn’t been a big deal in independent cinema or in the theatre for a while, but Ben Affleck’s member shows up for one second in Gone Girl and suddenly everyone’s shouting Sodom and Gomorrah. In that scene, the two characters are sharing a moment of intimacy that would look ridiculous if they weren’t naked. They are in the shower – the nudity is vital.