The time has come for the final guest blog of the year. The honour has been reserved for my friend Sal; who, along with being a nurse, and my friend for over eighteen years, has developed into somewhat of a film critic. While I can’t say I’m as great at looking at films in a more specific way of whether I liked it or not (the one film analysis class I took in college broke me) I can say that Sal’s opinions on film may rival those of the late great Roger Ebert, rest his soul. Sal’s written a piece on nudity in films, so I will leave it to her.
I want to start off by saying that generally, I’m not too concerned about nudity in movies/tv shows. One sex scene here and there, or a scene where non-sexual nudity actually has a purpose (more on that later)- maybe not completely necessary, but whatever. For me, the problem is when it goes beyond that. Sometimes, way beyond that.
Now, before you start labelling me as a prude and accusing me of being afraid of a natural human body, let me inform you that I am a nurse. I have bathed patients since I had a co-op placement in a nursing home at 17, and I have inserted catheters in men and women as part of my job. I assure you, I am not afraid of the human body.
Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll continue. I’m well aware that nudity is often shown to portray that character’s vulnerability- especially in movies. One example of this is the movie Babel, where there are full-frontal shots of a deaf girl who sleeps around because of the neglect she receives from home and the bullying she receives at school.
Other times nudity is shown during a sex scene. While sex scenes can be shot without nudity, it’s not really a big deal if there’s a brief shot, it obviously gives the scene more realism. This, I don’t really care about.
On to what I am uncomfortable with. To me, the movie The Reader (where Kate Winslet *finally* won an Oscar) is a very good example of this. Much of the nudity in the movie was unnecessary and excessive. Part of it was necessity to a point, as there are important post-coital scenes between the two leads where they are both naked. This I understand and had no issue with. However, there also many unnecessary sex scenes (we get it! They were having an affair!), and a scene where Kate Winslet’s character, after swimming in a river, stands up and we see a completely unnecessary shot of her breasts. It added absolutely nothing to the scene of the movie.
I also want to discuss the show Game of Thrones. Having read the (first three) books, I’m well aware that there are a lot of sex scenes, and that brothels and prostitutes play a minor part in the story. However, much of the first season had several sex scenes and one of the, um, participants would be explaining some kind of backstory or exposition that was important to the story. This became so common on the show that when there was finally an exposition scene without sex or nudity, people (critics) noticed and practically thanked the writers. This was because those earlier scenes made them think the writers underestimated the audience and couldn’t pay attention to an exposition scene without nudity. I was glad that they finally realized this wasn’t the case, and was actually more distracting than helpful.
Sex and nudity can be shown in movies and TV in a variety of ways for a variety of reasons. A recent article in Entertainment Weekly revealed that sex and nudity are starting to become more rare in Hollywood. This is a trend, despite my comfort with the human body and tolerance for short sex scenes, I wholeheartedly approve. It shows that gratuitous sex/nudity are rarely necessary to advance a story or a scene, and I believe we are better for it.
Great thanks to Sal for her opinion piece! You may find her on twitter at @saldsouza if you would like to hear more of them.