Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On-screen nudity

If you're old, like the Complete and Total Loser, who's in his mid-50s, you may remember when the only time you ever saw nudity in motion was when you went to R-rated movies. That was hard to do when you were fourteen and, like the Loser, could sometimes pass for eleven. When you got in, what you saw was fleeting.
Then, in the mid 70s, came breast cancer awareness thanks largely to Betty Ford, the First Lady. 
Terrible disease, kills thousands, blah, blah, blah. But breasts were on TV. They were examined at length, touched by doctors and the women who owned them, pressed by the clear Lucite planes of mammography machines. Arms raised, muscles flexed, bodies leaned forward and turned to better exam breasts from multiple angles. There were close ups of diligent nipple squeezes. The models demonstrating were invariably young and not your mom.
breast examination
Let's all look long and carefully at this woman's breasts.
Paradise for a fourteen-year-old male loser with alone time and a television in his room, though in the pre-VCR era scheduling could be difficult: "Can I take the portable TV into my room right now?"
It was more satisfying to the Loser than it was to normal boys. Normal boys were out there touching real breasts, the ones on girls they knew and actually talked to. The Loser, however, went from his house to his all boys school and back again, never meeting girls. He couldn't imagine touching a girl's breasts without there being some kind of medical necessity involved. A girl letting the Loser remove her bra, allowing him to look at her, touch her? Impossible. His first kiss was at age 21.
valerie perrine steambath 1973
Valerie Perrine in "Steambath," 1973
There were other moments of nudity on television. The 1973 play "Steambath," for example, on PBS, famous for being the first time in which a woman (Valerie Perrine) deliberately showed her nipples. (Just 24 PBS affiliates carried the broadcast and the Loser's local station wasn't one of them.)
Now, decades later, the Loser responds differently to nudity that's part of a TV show than he does to when it's in a movie. Oddly, this is true even when he sees both on the same television screen.
rasario dawson alexander 2004
Rosario Dawson in "Alexander," 2004.
In movies nudity seems stale and forced. As welcome as it is, it fails to surprise. You expect it in most movies with an R rating and movies without it seem prudish and restrained. 
On television, though, nudity still has some shock for the Loser. It seems fresh, something you're not supposed to see. 
Morena Baccarin Homeland
Morena Baccarin in Homeland.

The Loser isn't smart or self aware enough to know why it still appeals to him, but he can tell you this: Women still aren't letting him see them naked often. He's been celibate since the late 1990s.
We'll save the Internet for another time ...

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