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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Observe and Report (review)

Sacrificing Art on the Altar of Commerce?

“I thought this was gonna be funny,” says a character at one vital point in Observe and Report, “but it’s actually kinda sad.” Bingo! I thought at that moment, for that is almost exactly my reaction to the film itself. Not that I thought that I would find it funny — because how this is being marketed makes it look like yer standard grossout idiocy, of which I am most definitely not a fan — but I didn’t think I would find what is clearly intended to be comedic to actually be sad in itself, as opposed to merely finding myself depressed by it as yet another example of the sorry state of mainstream entertainment at the moment.

There may be other reasons to be depressed, though.
Observe and Report is Paul Blart: Mall Cop in a minor key. A very minor key. It’s shocking, actually, how similar in some specifics of plot and character the two films are, particularly when it seems unlikely that one could have influenced the other. But the tone of Observe could not be more different from that of Blart — this is a dark, grim film only infrequently punctuated by moments of outright humor, and even its few touches of gentleness are bittersweet at best. The thing is, though, that if writer-director Jody Hill was gonna go as far as he goes with this disturbing tale — and with some aspects he goes very far indeed — then he needed to go even further. What we get is somewhere in a mushy middle that is not entirely satisfying.

Seth Rogen’s Ronnie Barnhardt is tactless, reflexively aggressive, bigoted, bipolar, and possibly borderline retarded. The tiny amount of authority he wields as head of security at Forest Ridge Mall has gone straight to his head, and he lacks any sense of self-awareness regarding anything at all about himself. A dim appreciation for the condition of his alcoholic mother (Celia Weston [The Invasion, No Reservations], a treasure as always) is the only thing that penetrates Ronnie’s shell of self-involvement, and she’s the only person Ronnie appears to recognize as an individual in her own right, not merely as someone who can do something for him.

It’s a startling portrait of knee-jerk ignorance, obliviousness, and mean-spiritedness, and unlike many movies of this ilk, Observe does not approve of its protagonist, even as Rogen’s wholehearted devotion to the character imbues him with a solid reality, if a miserable one. Rogen (Monsters vs. Aliens, Zack and Miri Make a Porno) has likened Ronnie to Travis Bickle, and that’s not a bad comparison, in fact. But Observe doesn’t have the balls that it would take to push the comparison all the way: this is no Taxi Driver, not even a comic spin on Taxi Driver, and I have a nagging suspicion that it ain’t a Taxi Driver out of fear — on the part of Hill or Warner Bros. — that a more forcefully satirical version Observe and Report simply wouldn’t have been a movie marketable to mainstream audiences.

It bothers me deeply that I can’t help but suspect that Hill held back from making what could have been a brilliant, sour work of acidic genius in favor of a movie that was focus-group approved and preascertained by studio accountants to earn a certain acceptable number of millions.

It’s deeply frustrating to see Observe keep running right up to a point at which, it seems, the real satire would kick in… and then always holding back. The actions and motivations (or appreciable lack thereof) of individual characters — such as Ronnie’s instant escalation to violence in almost any situation, no matter how uncalled for — get prodded comedically, and in an ever-escalating manner, but Hill never takes that metaphoric step back that would cast a weather eye on it all. Of course there’s a heightened sense of reality here — this isn’t a documentary — but there’s also, hovering over the whole endeavor, a feeling that Hill wants to consider why so many people are so willfully ignorant, oblivious, clueless, and selfish as Ronnie (and many of the other characters). Yet Hill never gives us a path to that.

Ronnie and his mall-cop underling Dennis (Michael Peña: Lions for Lambs, Million Dollar Baby), for instance, in one bit use a taser on someone for a parking offense, and then the movie literally and figuratively walks away from the moment just as it seems a menacing, cutting, provocative punchline of some sort was in the offing (perhaps something about how we, as a society, seem to have willingly allowed our peace officers to become stormtroopers of late). The movie doesn’t necessarily approve of Ronnie’s behavior, but it stops right at the moment at which it has evoked its shocked laughter from the audience, as if it dare not invite them to think beyond that (as if, perhaps, asking mainstream audiences to think about anything were anathema). Observe is willing to sacrifice our potential good will toward characters like Dennis and Brandi (Anna Faris: The House Bunny, Smiley Face), the pretty shop clerk Ronnie pursues, by showing them to be so shockingly self-destructive that you come to be disgusted by them, but it’s not willing to go far enough to give us pause about why they may be the way they are. It’s almost as if the movie doesn’t realize that it keeps verging on the darkest kind of satire rather than merely deploying apparent stupidity for its own outrageous sake.

The nub around which the plot turns is a flasher, the “pervert,” as Ronnie calls him, who exposes himself to unsuspecting women in the mall parking lot. In even a comedy of heightened realism like this one, you might expect, at some moment, at least one woman to laugh at the guy — what, she’s supposed to be scared of that thing? — or at least one woman to get mad at the guy and maybe even turn the tables and attack him. Instead, to a one, all the women run and scream and act like frightened babies, which allows Hill to take the resolution of this part of the plot to a place so astonishing that I challenge anyone to say you saw it coming.

But the way Hill handles that, with perhaps the film’s only stamp of approval on Ronnie, and with no indication that the consequences such an act would invariably invite are on their way, wraps up what should have been ironic and challenging all along into something that feels just bleakly nihilistic. Not that there’s anything wrong with nihilism, per se, if it’s handled right, just that all indications seem to be that Hill doesn’t mean his movie to be quite so harsh in quite this way. And it’s all especially frustrating because what I see in Observe and Report makes me want to see Rogen do what he does here in a movie by someone who’s willing to go where a story needs to be taken for art’s sake, not for business’s sake — I’m thinking the Coen Brothers, or Spike Jonze. And I want to see Hill give himself permission to do the same… even if it means mainstream audiences won’t embrace him.


MPAA: rated R for pervasive language, graphic nudity, drug use, sexual content and violence

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine
  • Ferox

    I was actually surprised you didn’t make the comparison, so I feel I should ask: how does this movie compare with Bad Santa? It seems like it’s shooting for a lot of the same material, even if it’s afraid to do it fully.

  • Mathias

    No way, Bad Santa had a lot more balls than this tame flick. There’s nothing too dark here except if you’re the type to groan at vomit kissing and prolonged full frontal male nudity.

    I’m surprised that MaryAnn didn’t give this a negative review. I’d say that i’m a fan of Seth Rogan’s flicks but this is definitely his weakest film even though he’s now playing an actual character, rather than himself.

    It definitely felt like a lot more “edgy” stuff was cut out which might explain this film’s scattershot editing. Maybe the unrated director’s cut will improve it.

  • craigmac

    I haven’t seen the movie (and I never will) but I heard there’s a date-rape scene.

    Mary Ann, based on what you’ve written about other gross-out comedies of late, I’m surprised you didn’t mention anything about it or trash the movie harder for it.

  • grinder

    I have been hearing pretty mixed things on how the date rape scene played out. I too would like to hear MaryAnn’s comments on it.

  • MaryAnn

    Context, context, context, guys!

    The “date rape” scene is, arguably, not date rape. It is indisputably an uncomfortable depiction of drunken sex between two people who are unself-aware, self-destructive, and burdened with an abundance of personal issues that will almost inevitably be their downfalls — most importantly, as it relates to this scene, a pathological willingness to do *anything* for human contact.

    But even if you do see the scene as inarguably depicting date rape, that doesn’t automatically make it something worth complaining about the way that some people are complaining about it. Hollywood is *clearly* misogynist and tone deaf when it comes to feminist issues, but this is not a good example of that.

    This is a movie about people who are unlikable and psychologically unhealthy. People like that do awful things. Depicting those awful things is not necessarily approving of them. (It can be, but it isn’t in this case.)

    Mathias is right that *Bad Santa* has more balls than this flick. But there is a *lot* of dark stuff here, and it ain’t “vomit kissing and prolonged full frontal male nudity.” That’s just, in the first case, disgusting (and also very sad, that someone could be so desperate for human contact that he’d kiss a girl with vomit in her mouth), and in the second case, gross only if you are 12 years old and still think penises are automatically funny. The “date rape” scene is unquestionably dark.

    This is not a “gross-out” comedy.

  • Dan Coyle

    I just got back from the film and I agree with most of the review, but I think the ending, and the reaction to Ronnie’s climactic actions, is more of Hill sneering at the audience and blaming them for the Ronnie Barnhardts of the world. East Bound and Down’s arc ended in a similar way, only Kenny Powers got a much needed reality check in the final moments.

    He’s accusing us of being enablers of the Ronnie Barnhardts of the world, because he’ll get the job done when we need him. Even Scorsese and Hill himself haven’t been that hard hearted and nihilistic.

  • Rykker

    When I first saw the trailer a couple of months ago, I decided it might have been the first Rogen film in which I’d be interested enough to watch — I could sense the possibility of it going where, based on the reviews I’ve read, it ended-up not going.
    That’s too bad…

  • Tim1974

    It appears it is yet another double standard piece of crap. How redundant and disgusting that yet another movie has decided to exploit men and show just male frontal nudity. I am shocked that heterosexual males have not yet had enough of this inequality.

  • MaSch

    Tim, you’ve got the wrong scales: You must compare the screentime naked willies get in mainstream movies to the exposition the female breast gets (in different degrees of exposure). Didn’t you read the discussion about The Blue Guy’s Weener?

  • MaryAnn

    I think Tim1974 was being sarcastic.

    At least, I hope he was.

  • TheGaucho

    What is it with you American people and full frontal nudity m/fm, or indeed, any nudity whatsoever? Shooting 50 people in one movie, point blank, or torturing/dismemberment shown at close range? Not a problem. One nipple and the whole country is crying “Outrage!”

    Sheesh, loosen up, people! Sex = fun!!! To paraphrase Larry Flint: “If the human body is offensive, blame the designer.”

    And I am sure that Tim1974 was being sarcastic, weren’t you Tim1974? Please?

  • Accounting Ninja

    One nipple and the whole country is crying “Outrage!”

    I remember being at work when that whole “catastrophe” hit. My coworker had a five year old son at the time, and she actually said, “How am I going to explain (Janet Jackson’s breast) to him?!?” He had seen the whole thing, the poor moppet.
    I was floored. Seriously? They’re BREASTS, mommy has them! My husband sarcastically remarked that no one had a problem up until then with their kids watching and listening to what were VERY suggestive song lyrics, but once that nipple popped out, oh noes!!

    Here’s one American that does not share Puritanical views on nudity, male or female. Our priorities are fucked up.

  • Drave

    Just saw this today. Your review is spot-on. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. One thing I will give this movie, though. It is consistently unpredictable, and that in itself is pretty impressive these days.

  • Nathan

    I think “a brilliant, sour work of acidic genius” is exactly what this movie is and I don’t understand why you think marketing affected the filmmaker’s decisions. If this were outright satire then it would be marketable as such and would let the audience off the hook, or if this film held our hands and gave us cathartic life lessons or explained exactly why all of this is so bad, how would that be subversive or dark?

    What we have is a movie meant to be taken at face value but also a film that dredges up a lot of the ugliness and suffering that goes unseen or ignored in similar enterprises. The line “I thought this was going to be funny, but it’s actually kinda sad” is no accident. It seems to me that Hill is intentionally exposing the underbelly some current trends in American entertainment in a way that outright satire or drama could never do.

    I think you wanting the film to supposedly go farther would actually produce a weaker, more comfortable, and less effective film.

  • wiggles

    The “date rape” scene is, arguably, not date rape.

    Um… she’s unconscious. Brandi’s arbitrary “who told you to stop” line was Hill pulling his punches to “make it all okay,” just as he does with the movie as a whole.

  • MaryAnn

    But was she unconscious before he started fucking her? Did she say, “Fuck me, stud!” and that’s why he started in the first place? We just don’t see how the situation began, so we can’t make a truly informed analysis of it.

    I’m not sure that her “who told you to stop” line *is* just a way to “make it okay.” She doesn’t come round and start screaming, which might be the expected reaction if she didn’t want him to do what he was doing.

    That’s what makes the scene so pathetic: that they’re *both* so desperate for human contact that they’re not really thinking about what they’re doing. Maybe she got as bombed as she did so she would be able to tolerate this kind of contact from him.

    Does inebriation automatically mean that a woman is utterly unable to give consent to sex? Doesn’t that infantilize women in a way that we don’t concede to men? (Imagine the uproar if we excused a man from an accusation of date rape because *he* was drunk or stoned.) Doesn’t her decision to get drunk and high — especially in combination with her complete lack of concern when she awakens to find him atop her — mean she has some responsibility for what’s happening?

    There are a *lot* of complicated power and gender issues at play when it comes to an issue like date rape. I just don’t think many of them apply to this particular example of drunken sex, unless we want to remove all responsibility from women and treat them like children.

  • Tim1974

    Nooooooo, I am in no way being sarcastic. You can in no way compare showing breasts to showing male genitals. It is long past the time to start showing as much female frontal nudity as male frontal nudity. And yes, it has become a double standard against males. There has been an adundance of male exposure compared to female frontal exposure. And I believe the time is coming, as the poor showing of this film is presenting, that heterosexual males have had enough of this double standard treatment. I can only imagine the outrage if these films were constantly showing only female frontal nudity and no male nudity or just a guy’s bare behind. In fact, look at the comments about not thinking there is a double standard because women have shown only their breasts. To me that is ridiculous. There is no shock value in showing male genitals. It is exploitation of males. What would be shocking is to show the vulva. But even the thought of that gets females to cringe. I can only hope that future films of this inequality show poorly. It is disgusting and redundant. I guess females are truly only interested in equality when it benefits themselves.

  • Paul

    I used to be the fall guy for a self defense instructor, literally, and when he told women (they were all women groups he taught at various colleges) that all the knowledge and skill in the world goes out the window when someone gets drunk, so it was a waste of time to get a black belt and then get wasted and expect to defend oneself, several of the girls looked at each other uncomfortably. I don’t think they wanted to hear a self-defense expert say the first step to self-defense was to stay sober, when alcohol and so on plays such a big part of college life.

    And if Tim1974 thinks male nudity is overexposed in America, he should watch some German films. I remember a Fessbender movie that had more penises than I had ever seen in my life, considering that in locker rooms it is a little rude to stare. I wish I could remember the title, but it was about a poor gay man who wins a lottery, and then another gay man seduces and cons him out of the money, leaving him broke again. The bathhouse scene in particular was overkill.

  • MaSch

    See, MaryAnn, I told you he was being serious! *g*

    And for those who are comparing the numbers of movies having penis shots and movies having vulva shots, I recently saw a nice little Greek movie where I realized (somewhat annoyed) that while there had been a vulva shot, the camera was careful not to show a penis (there would have been an occasion for the latter).

    For those who compare the numbers of movies which show female breasts and movies which show penises, that movie should, of course, cancel out two movie with naked male penises on screen, i.e. “Watchmen” and this one here.

  • Tim1974

    Showing breasts DOES NOT cancel out showing the penis. As I have said to even think it does is ridiculous. And for those people who bring that argument are those who continue to be afraid of real equality. Why are American films afraid to show as much female frontal nudity as male frontal nudity ? Within the last year, in American mainstream movies, there were 3 films with both male and female frontal nudity. There was only 1 with only female frontal nudity but 9 with only male frontal nudity. That is a blatant double standard. And, that doesn’t even take into consideration the amount of male genitals exposed in many new HBO series and in plays. So please, don’t bother with telling that there were films that showed breasts and they cancel each other out. It shows how frightened you really are with true equality.

  • MaSch

    Tim, you will not convince anybody here with your writing style and your statistics. There are some here who believe that the male emotional reaction to a (large) penis on-screen is about equal to the female emotional reaction to a pair of (large) boobs on-screen: Self-doubt, intimidation, a feeling of inadequacy. (Of course, this only applies to insecure men and women; note that MA for example is not an insecure woman, but arguing on behalf of those women whose self-esteem has been severely damaged by patriarchy.)

    Can you disprove that claim? Probably not (if you don’t have a good study upon male and female reactions to the portrayal of primary and secondary sexual characteristics in mainstream movies). Can they disprove your claim that the male penis is as intimate as the female vulva and should be treated equally with regards to presentation in movies? I guess not, either.

    So, what can you do? Nothing much, really. My own view is that these issues are too important to be treated seriously, so I’m just making some digs at those attitudes now and then.

  • Tim1974

    My point has nothing to do with how people react to what is on screen. I would prefer that no one feels discriminated against or uncomfortable in regards to what is being shown. My point is to make people aware of this blatant double standard of exposing male genitals but not female genitals. It is wrong and needs to be put to an end. I encourage all heterosexual males to speak out and voice their concern for this injustice. I wonder how females would feel using your logic and reversed it and said it is ok to show the vulva and it is equalled out by showing a man’s bare behind. My feelings are that would not settle well with females and the way it is now does not settle well with many males. And trashy films like this one does nothing more than to exploit males in reference to frontal nudity. As for my writing style, I have no idea what you even mean. As for the stats, they are accurate. And I am not sure what you mean that these issues are too important to be treated seriously. My opinion is if you have a point of view and your feelings are strong about your conviction, then why wouldn’t you voice your concern ? We obviously disagree but at least we have presented our thoughts. And as the saying goes, even though I don’t support your ideas, I at least defend your right to present them. And, I encourage you to continue doing so because I know I will. So……..until next time…………take care.

  • Nathan

    This is a conversation? Really?

    Tim, you are either a very subtle troll — in which case, well done — or you need a hobby besides counting penes and vulvae.

  • MaryAnn

    Showing breasts DOES NOT cancel out showing the penis.

    I think Tim1974’s outrage — whether it is genuine or not — is an excellent demonstration of the attitude that continues to allow female nudity to be treated casually while male nudity inspires anger: Many people think men are more entitled to their dignity than women are.

    If Tim1974 — or anyone else — truly believes that bare female breasts are no big deal, then he should ask himself why female barechestedness is considered indecent and can earn the woman in question a police summons or even arrest (and that images of breastfeeding, which could not be less sexual, also cause indignation and outrage), while the same is not true of men who go shirtless.

  • MaSch

    Well, MaryAnn, let me just switch my argumental point of view and ask, if we take the consequences of exposing X publicly as measure, wouldn’t the showing of a naked penis get a man into more trouble than a woman showing her bare breasts? And would this not mean that a naked penis is a “bigger deal” than bare female breasts?

    And how large is the probability for you to state that you are not interested in taking this discussion any further, which I could really understand?

  • MaryAnn

    I don’t get what you’re after, MaSch. Does male public exposure of his genital area bring more hassle from the police than female breast exposure does?

    It would seem not, at least as far as New York State (where I live) is concerned. A few examples:

    § 245.01 Exposure of a person.

    A person is guilty of exposure if he appears in a public place in such a manner that the private or intimate parts of his body are unclothed or exposed. For purposes of this section, the private or intimate parts of a female person shall include that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola. This section shall not apply to the breastfeeding of infants or to any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment.

    No specific mention of male nipples or genitalia is made.

    § 245.10 Public display of offensive sexual material; definitions of terms

    The following definitions are applicable to section 245.11:
    1. “Nudity” means the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area or buttocks with less than a full opaque covering, or the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple, or the depiction of covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state.

    If you want to examine the statues of other states, there are links here.

    But it does appear that, at least in New York (which, again, I chose because that’s where I live), the exposure of the female breast is the equivalent to the exposore of either male or female genitalia.

    I don’t necessarily agree that this is a good thing. But our culture at large does not agree with me.

    I’m completely fascinated by this debate, and would love to continue it. I don’t know why you’d think I wouldn’t.

  • JoshB

    That’s how the legal code views it. But even that is open to a judge’s interpretation.

    Let’s view the question from the perspective of the greater social consensus (please don’t take this as my point of view, but rather as my estimation of what society thinks):

    A woman who exposes her breasts in public is a slut.
    A woman who exposes her vagina in public is a bigger slut.
    A man who exposes his penis in public is a predatory sex fiend who needs to be put in jail.

  • MaryAnn

    I don’t think that’s the case. A woman who exposes her breasts is a wild animal to be encouraged. A man who exposes his penis is a mentally ill weirdo to be ignored.

    That’s my experience of the difference.

    But yes, this is the legal code, and it mirrors our culture’s acceptance — or lack thereof — of certain things. If female shirtlessness were as casual and normal in the larger culture as male shirtlessness, it would not be depicted with such salacious glee in the movies.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Yeah, but she IS still a slut. Make no mistake about that. Also, she’s assumed sexually available to anyone who wants her, and if raped, was “asking for it.”

    This whole male nudity thing…what do you make of this:

    Even in nudity men and women aren’t equal. Men are allowed to be more faceted in their nudity. It might be sexual, or funny, or to illustrate a pertinent character trait (Dr. Manhattan), or to convey poignant vulnerability.

    But females must always be sexual, and for the titillation of male hetero watchers. Their bodies are put under scrutiny and any woman not deemed “nude-worthy” is harshly slammed.

    The breast is not functionally analogous to the penis (I think that would be the clitoris), but the way our society treats it is just as sexual.

    Seems to me Tim’s saying that it’s ridiculous that lumps of chest flesh are being equated with genitalia. But would that breasts were only considered lumps of chest flesh with no slut stigmas or hypersexualizations attached in our society.

  • Mark

    Within the last year, in American mainstream movies, there were 3 films with both male and female frontal nudity. There was only 1 with only female frontal nudity but 9 with only male frontal nudity.

    I don’t believe this for a minute. What’s your source for this? What movies are these?

    Looking at various entries in http://www.screenit.com/search_movies.html, it looks like there have been at least six mainstream films released in the last three months with explicit female nudity but no male nudity (Specifically: Crank: High Voltage, Crossing Over, The Last House On The Left, Friday the 13th, Notorious, My Bloody Valentine 3-D)

    So I’m not at all sure where your numbers are coming from.

  • MaSch

    MaryAnn: Oh, the differences in culture and law!

    Here in Germany, only men can be (legally) guilty of exhibitionism, women only if the act of exhibitionism includes sexual abuse of children.

    I’ve also heard that a man urinating in public can or until recently could be convicted as a sex offender i; was this also true of women?

    But yeah, the New York laws really makes the same assumptions you claim society has about that issue.

  • Tim1974

    First Mark let me define “frontal nudity” since that is what my point is in reference to. “Frontal nudity” means genital exposure. Of the films that you listed only 1 contains frontal nudity. The others show breasts and that is another discussion since I can also show that males are exposing their bare behinds equally with the females who expose breasts. My point is in reference to frontal nudity only. The films that I list, which is actually over the last year and about a half, may also contain breasts or bare behinds but a disparity in frontal nudity. So the 3 films that had both male and female genital exposure are : “Harold and Kumar Go To GB,” “Zack and Miri,” and “Blindness.” The only film in almost 2 years to feature only female frontal nudity and no male nudity is “My Bloody Valentine.” The 9 films that have only male genital exposure and no female genital exposure are : “Strange Wilderness,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Sex and the City,” “Step Brohers,” “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People,” “Sex Drive,” “The Reader,” “Watchmen,” and “Observe and Report.” I can also go back further than that to show you that this disparity and double standard has been going on for some time. It also exist in new HBO series and in plays.

  • MaryAnn

    But yeah, the New York laws really makes the same assumptions you claim society has about that issue.

    I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic, MaSch. But also please note that Germany is not the United States. The cultures are not the same. Similar, perhaps, but not the same.

    I’ve also heard that a man urinating in public can or until recently could be convicted as a sex offender i; was this also true of women?

    Where are you wondering whether this was true or not? New York? Germany? I have no idea in either case.

    But still: how often do you see women urinating in public? I don’t know if it makes sense to prosecute public urinators as sex offenders, but *clearly* male public urination is an actual problem — the same is not at all true of women.

    The others show breasts and that is another discussion since I can also show that males are exposing their bare behinds equally with the females who expose breasts.

    Tim1974, we get it: You want to see vaginas on film. We understand. But you’re not going to get us to agree that bare female breasts are no big deal, not the way that our culture and Hollywood in particular treat the matter. And you’re also not going to get us to agree that women need to be MORE naked on film, because the guys are getting, er, shafted in this regard. This simply is not happening.

    Perhaps you’ve just become so inured to the naked female breast, since they’re in our faces so damn often.

  • MaryAnn

    Tim1974 wrote this:

    I wonder how females would feel using your logic and reversed it and said it is ok to show the vulva and it is equalled out by showing a man’s bare behind.

    Tim, I’m not sure you understand — at all — the issues at stake. Because what you’re suggesting here is as preposterous as if you’d suggested that, say, depictions of a white person being hanged by an angry mob would have the same connotations as that of a black person being hanged by an angry mob. No one with any understanding of American racism and the particular ways that it has played out would agree with this.

    Likewise, there are cultural and historical contexts to matters of male nudity, female nudity, and how our culture reactions to and interprets such that are absolutely vital to understanding why no one here is going to agree with you. You say, “My point has nothing to do with how people react to what is on screen,” but that is ENTIRELY the point. You can go on and on about genitals all you want, but the fact is that our culture HAS created a sort of equivalence between female breasts and male penises. It might be nice if we didn’t live in this culture — if female nudity wasn’t automatically sexual, and if people didn’t freak out like four-year-olds at the sight of a penis — but we do.

    I urge you, Tim, to acquaint yourself with some feminist critiques of our culture, because you’re not doing a very good job of convincing us that you live in the same world we do.

  • MaSch

    But yeah, the New York laws really makes the same assumptions you claim society has about that issue.

    I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic, MaSch. But also please note that Germany is not the United States. The cultures are not the same. Similar, perhaps, but not the same.

    I was not being sarcastic. I just didn’t find the right word: The laws you cite support the credibility of your argument.

    ‘ve also heard that a man urinating in public can or until recently could be convicted as a sex offender i; was this also true of women?

    Where are you wondering whether this was true or not? New York? Germany? I have no idea in either case.

    Rumours have it that this was the case in some not really specified States of the USA. Damn wikipedia, not reliable at all, unfortunately.

    But still: how often do you see women urinating in public?

    I did once. Guess that doesn’t really make an argument, especially since …

    I don’t know if it makes sense to prosecute public urinators as sex offenders, but *clearly* male public urination is an actual problem — the same is not at all true of women.

    … I (largely) agree with that (make it another offence and prosecute them for that, but the stigma as “sex offender” for *that*? This is over-exaggerated)

    You can go on and on about genitals all you want, but the fact is that our culture HAS created a sort of equivalence between female breasts and male penises. It might be nice if we didn’t live in this culture — if female nudity wasn’t automatically sexual, and if people didn’t freak out like four-year-olds at the sight of a penis — but we do.

    Somehow the second sentence seems to contradict the first one: If there was some kind of equivalence between female breasts and male penises (why has no one yet asked what other kinds of penises there are?) , then people would freak out like four-year-olds at the sight of …

    Just remembered Nipplegate, you are right-on.

    However, Tim’s point *is* that there exists in your culture this equivalence, but that this is not okay and a double standard where men get the shorter end of the stick (no pun intended). Tim is advocating (I guess) for an equal sensitivity concerning the depiction of penises as there is concerning the depiction of vulvae.

    As Frank T.J. Mackey would most definitely *not* say: “Respect the cock! As much as the cunt!”

  • Tim1974

    Mary Ann I can’t agree with you even in the slighest. It is a feminist view point put forth by females to prevent equality when it comes to frontal nudity. Just your reaction to the reverse situation of showing a vulva and only showing a man’s bare behind certainly upsets you. That shows me you are bias. No matter what female logic you choose to use the bottom line is simple. To have true equality, if you are goinjg to show the penis then show the vulva. No ifs, ands, or butts( no pun intended). As far as people agreeing with me here…..well that doesn’t matter. I don’t adhere to your feminist views and I am able to stand up for myself and true equality. And you should notice, I never said to do away with male frontal nudity but to start adding equal amounts of female frontal nudity. And talk abpout freaking out…well if they showed the vulva as often, and in the positions they have shown the penis, females would be feeling the same.

  • JoshB

    Hmmm…I’m thinking way too much about this =P

    I think you’re wrong MaryAnn. If I was to assign a numerical value between one and ten for various body parts’ sexual titillation value in our culture it would go as follows:

    male/female arms and legs: 1
    male chest: 2
    male/female butt: 5
    female chest: 6-7
    male/female genitals: 10

    There really isn’t a male equivalent for the female breasts. Trust me, us guys like some boobies, but they’re not equal to vaginas (vaginae? the spellchecker seems to think so…).

    Also, I think in the past it was more common to see vaginas on film, and less common to see penises (I wonder if Tim’s encyclopedic knowledge might confirm that?). I imagine that’s the result of feminism rather than equality between breasts and penises.

    P.S. Since I’m more or less arguing on the side of Tim1974 it might seem that I’m deeply offended by this horrible inequality. Which, no. For me this conversation is an amusing academic exercise, not a crusade.

  • Accounting Ninja

    No matter what female logic you choose to use the bottom line is simple.

    *sigh* Translation: you are a woman, and that invalidates your arguments.

    I smell someone who distrusts “feminism” and probably equates them with “nazi-ball-busting”. True feminism IS about equality. There is no gynocentric agenda.

    Male nudity is treated with a whole lot more respect (gross-out comedies notwithstanding. But it is even more respectful here: they are allowed to be “funny” with no suggestion of audiences leering at them and judging their worth as sexual objects. Women are not afforded this courtesy.)

    Imagine for a moment a female Dr. Manhattan, nothing about the character changed except gender. Would her nudity have been treated as matter-of-fact as the male’s? Or would the camera have traveled her flesh, inviting the male audience? My gut tells me it would. All female nudity is sexual; it isn’t allowed to be anything else. I haven’t seen all those movies you listed, but I’m willing to bet that all instances of female nudity were sexual and directed at the male audience. The males’ were no doubt more varied. I don’t care if they weren’t “tit-for-tat” (no pun intended). It is the presentation and attitudes behind the nudity that is important.

  • Tim1974

    I completely disagree with your “it is the attitudes and the presentations that is important.” Sounds to me just like another reason for females not to be exposed as much as males. I think by now that I have heard every excuse/reason for not showing female frontal nudity as often as male frontal nudity except one that states show the vulva as much as the penis. That would be equality and as females we are interested in equality. Feminist = equlaity ????? It certainly doesn’t sound like it. By the way, in “My Bloody Valentine” it was not sexual. The nude woman was running. The perception of genital nudity should have absolutely no determination on showing frontal nudity and equality. As I stated it should black and white. You show the penis then you show the vulva. Why oh why does that frighten many females ??????

  • MaryAnn

    Tim1974, we wimmez with our faulty female logic are not “frightened” at the thought of vulvas on film. We’re trying to explain to you, as you call for women to be more exposed on film, that women are already more exposed on film than men are.

    I repeat: I think you are so inured to naked female breasts *because we see them all the damn time* on film that you simply don’t realize how prevalent this female exposure is.

    If I was to assign a numerical value between one and ten for various body parts’ sexual titillation value in our culture it would go as follows:

    male/female arms and legs: 1
    male chest: 2
    male/female butt: 5
    female chest: 6-7
    male/female genitals: 10

    Sez you, JoshB, with your (I’m presuming here) male heterosexual perspective, seeing our culture through the same lens. If a female heterosexual perspective were the dominant one in our culture — the one so dominant that everyone considered it simply the normal and unbiased one, which of course it wouldn’t be any more than the straight-male perspective is — then perhaps movies might treat the naked male chest as highly sexual.

    There really isn’t a male equivalent for the female breasts.

    There is the most obvious outward sign of gender for each of the genders: For men it is the penis. For women it is the breasts. You know: Which bits flop around when someone naked is running? To correct Tim1974’s misapprehension, a naked chick running in a horror movie is naked (from the POV of the director, who made this decision) because her breasts can bounce around while she’s fleeing in terror. (It *is* sexual, Tim1974 — not from the girl-character’s perspective, but from the intent of the director. The director is trying to titillate the audience with naked bouncing breasts [as well as the terror of a sexy girl, but that’s another issue].)

    Tim1974 wants to see vulvas on film. I wonder what he means by this. Does he mean he wants to see bushes — because, you know, for adult women, the vulva is mostly hidden by hair unless a camera gets *real* close. If Tim1974 wants extreme closeups, close enough to see the vulva in the bush, then wouldn’t he have to equate that with extreme closeups on penises… which we simply don’t see on film. (Except pornos, of course. Maybe Tim1974 just needs to watch some more porn.) Or does Tim1974 want to see shaved pussies so he can *see* vulva?

    There’s no precise equivalency, but the closest thing *is* male penis/female breast.

    SPOILER FOLLOWS!

    Think about this. If that last bit in *O&R* were gender swapped, and a naked woman were running around the mall terrorizing people, what would we have seen instead? Of course, there’s no precise equivalent here, either, because women don’t generally do the flasher thing. But still, what would the director have done to make it “funny”? He has an overweight, not terribly attractive man running around the mall, his penis flopping around for all to see. Swap the genders, and we’d have an overweight, not terribly attractive woman running around… with her breasts flopping around for all to see. (Of course, they would not be the “right kind” of breasts — they’d be droopy and saggy, not pert and firm.) She’d probably be totally nude under her coat, like the man in the film was, but her nakedness below the waist would not be the focus of attention like it was for the guy.

  • MaryAnn

    If a female heterosexual perspective were the dominant one in our culture — the one so dominant that everyone considered it simply the normal and unbiased one, which of course it wouldn’t be any more than the straight-male perspective is — then perhaps movies might treat the naked male chest as highly sexual.

    And it just occurred to me that if you watch gay porn, or anything mean to be homoerotic, the male chest is *highly* sexualized. In fact, that’s considered a primary marker for something to be taken as homoerotic: the naked male chest is presented in a way meant to be arousing and erotic.

  • JoshB

    If a female heterosexual perspective were the dominant one in our culture — the one so dominant that everyone considered it simply the normal and unbiased one, which of course it wouldn’t be any more than the straight-male perspective is — then perhaps movies might treat the naked male chest as highly sexual.

    Ah, but this is where we have a disconnect. You spend so much time thinking about what the culture wants that you neglect to think about what you want. It’s very glass-is-half-empty. If you as a heterosexual female loves you some man chest then you should be happy. Film, and real life for that matter, is awash in naked male chest. And to extend that reasoning, you should feel pity for us straight dudes that we don’t see nearly as many breasts!

    She’d probably be totally nude under her coat, like the man in the film was, but her nakedness below the waist would not be the focus of attention like it was for the guy.

    Says you. My attention disagrees.

  • Tim1974

    I will end by once again puting out the call for all heterosexual males to stop viewing these type of films which exploit male genitalia and continue to promote the double standard bias of showing males but not females. I encourage males to speak up and make their voices heard to put an end to this injustice. Males also need to realize that for he most part most females want nothing to do with true equality. Beware of the abundance of excuses that they use to promote inequality and continue the exposure of male genitals but no female genitals. It may take time but when these writers/directors/producers start to realize they are not making the money they had hoped it will change. This film is an example of one that has been doing poorly. Hopefully it is only a start. Also, beware that there are also males who are unable to stand up for themselves and defend what is just. They find it more comfortable to agree with the female perspective and not risk voicing their displeasure and demand equal treatment. The bottom lne to this is simple. If you show male genitals then you should also expose female genitals. I am not demanding any special treatment for males only that both genders are treated equally. This is the 21st century and why not ??? Equality is long overdo. In addition to the genital exposure issue it goes to having both genders with strong characters, equal amounts of attractive and average looking people, stop the visual rape scenes, stop showing physical and emotional abuse. I know ther are other issues as well but it is something that needs to be addressed. It is a shame that this nudity issue has divided the genders because I believe working side by side such improvements could be made by presenting a solid, united platform of reform. And MaryAnn, even though I do not agree with you in the slightest, I appreciate having the opportunity to express my opinion in your forum. Thank you Until we meet again………………..

  • Mark

    “Frontal nudity” means genital exposure.

    Ah, see, I was confused because the last time I looked at a nude woman her breasts were definitely frontal.

    That shows me you are bias.

    Everyone knows that MaryAnn is biast, Tim1974.

    But, seriously …

    To have true equality, if you are goinjg to show the penis then show the vulva.

    I don’t adhere to your feminist views and I am able to stand up for myself and true equality. And you should notice, I never said to do away with male frontal nudity but to start adding equal amounts of female frontal nudity.

    Sounds to me just like another reason for females not to be exposed as much as males. I think by now that I have heard every excuse/reason for not showing female frontal nudity as often as male frontal nudity except one that states show the vulva as much as the penis.

    OK, Tim1974, I really can’t wrap my head around what you’re looking for here. Do you want the MPAA do have a mandatory vulva-penis equivalency rule? Or do you just want us to concede — “yes, yes, so many penises, so few vulvae, it’s horrible and wrong” — regardless of any assessment of the context in which the nudity occurs in the film?

    And I’m confused about the physiology of your argument. Common sense would dictate that if what you’re concerned about is genital nudity, then a frontal view of a male with uncovered genitals — with the penis plainly visible is equivalent to a frontal view of a female similarly uncovered — which, as MaryAnn points out, will amount to a wedge of curly hair in most realistic cases. So I’m not clear on why you keep mentioning ‘vulva’ — a specific part of female genital anatomy which is not, in the normal course of things, as prominent as a penis. That’s got nothing to do with filmmakers’ peccadillos; that’s just anatomy. So are you arguing that we ought to “add” shots of unusually exposed female genitals to compensate for basic physiological differences?

    It seems that the basic disconnect here is that you aren’t prepared to concede that, in general, women’s experience of nudity on film (not just seeing nudity — both male and female — but living in a culture that portrays women on film the way our does) is different that yours. Now that’s biast.

  • Mark

    I will end by once again puting out the call for all heterosexual males to stop viewing these type of films which exploit male genitalia and continue to promote the double standard bias of showing males but not females. I encourage males to speak up and make their voices heard to put an end to this injustice

    What, gay and bisexual men can’t join your cause, too?

    In any case, I still don’t understand what you’re upset about. And I don’t feel that male genitalia is being exploited, or that there is a “double standard bias” in what naked bits show up in movies nowadays. So I will respectfully decline your call to action.

    Also, beware that there are also males who are unable to stand up for themselves and defend what is just. They find it more comfortable to agree with the female perspective and not risk voicing their displeasure and demand equal treatment.

    Be aware that there are also males who don’t agree with you in the slightest, regardless of the female perspective.

    Equality is long overdo. In addition to the genital exposure issue it goes to having both genders with strong characters, equal amounts of attractive and average looking people, stop the visual rape scenes, stop showing physical and emotional abuse

    It’s not enough to tally up these things and declare them equal. What matters is how these things are portrayed. Just like nudity, scenes of rape and abuse can be entirely different depending on how the filmmakers intend them — some directors will film horrific scenes with the intent that they titillate, others will make them appropriately horrific. Just as with nudity — it can be portrayed in a way that is erotic, sensual, intimate, dehumanizing, matter-of-fact, gratuitous, or a dozen other things. Nuance and intent matter; you can’t just play at counting genitals and determine if a film is exploitative or not.

    It is a shame that this nudity issue has divided the genders because I believe working side by side such improvements could be made by presenting a solid, united platform of reform.

    Except it hasn’t “divided the genders”. Not all men agree with you; in fact, I don’t think anyone here agreed with you.

  • Accounting Ninja

    Tim, anyone who uses the phrase “female logic” loses all points with me. It’s called logic, and it’s not dependent on our plumbing. I’m convinced that you are a misogynist who doesn’t realize he is one.

    If you think for a moment the movie industry is “exploiting” males and is run from anything other than a straight, white, male perspective (notice how ratings cater to the M 18-40 crowd) then you are seriously mistaken and I might just laugh in your face.

    Also, you never answered any of my points. You’re so stuck on For Every Penis a Vulva that you are in a tunnel. You insult the women here by calling them deluded feminists who want to oppress men. You insult the men here by insinuating that they are cowards unable to “stand up” to the big bad wimmenz.

    For the record, I HATE it when certain feminists take this tack: ALL men are out to oppress women, and any woman who disagrees in simply a brainwashed simpleton unable to stand up for herself.

    Kindly crawl back under your bridge.

  • Victor Plenty

    I’ve seen a lot of trolls in my decades online, and after reading through this entire exchange, I don’t think Tim1974 falls into that category. An odd duck he certainly is, and most likely an unaware misogynist to boot, but probably not a troll.

    That being said, I’m not persuaded in the slightest by any of his arguments. His stated overall goal of “true equality” is admirable enough, and even seems to be sincere. Sadly, the way he’s pursuing it is nothing less than bizarre.

    It’s nice of him to choose comparatively mild words when insulting everyone who doesn’t share his narrowly focused obsession. That doesn’t make his claims persuasive.

  • MaSch

    JoshB: A bit late, but I just wanted to say that to me this issue is an amusing academic crusade.

    Just wearily looked over the last few postts (yeah, I tired earlier than i predicted MaryAnn would), but some statements seem a little like conundrums (new word I just looked up in a dictionary; who said commenting on FlickFilosopher isn’t edicashonal?):

    Why is a penis like a pair of boobs? – Both are flopping around when the owner runs naked.

    Why is a penis like a vulva? – Both are promary genitals.

    Why is a raven like a writing desk?

    And depending on what one considers the *essential* quality of the penis, one comes to different conclusions.

    By the way, as I already hinted at on the Manhattan’s dong thread: For many guys, the bits that flop around when running around *shirtless* is the belly, while for women it is the breasts, so we get a breast-belly-equivalence.

    Since we already established a breast-penis-equivalence and a penis-vulva equivalence, we come to the conclusion that the male belly is equivalent to the female vulva.

    To which I am saying: This line of reasoning could be very efficient to spread sexual abstinence in males.

  • Tyler

    MaryAnn, you said:

    “Tim, I’m not sure you understand — at all — the issues at stake. Because what you’re suggesting here is as preposterous as if you’d suggested that, say, depictions of a white person being hanged by an angry mob would have the same connotations as that of a black person being hanged by an angry mob. No one with any understanding of American racism and the particular ways that it has played out would agree with this.”

    As someone who was raised in a time and place where, at least, outward suburban racism is not rampant, I have to say I’d have the same reaction a hanging (in real life or in a film) regardless of who is being hung.

    It seems to create a double standard. Your statement (likely unintentionally) implies that we shouldn’t show a black person being hung in a movie without referencing or making some note of the racial connotation, but why? If we’ve really moved on as a society and destroying taboos, that would include avoiding topics that are negatively sensitive.

    This may not have total relevance to the discussion but it’s what I thought reading some of these comments.

  • MichelleW

    I agree with Tim. It’s double standards. And for anyone saying that the female breasts exposed are the same as male genitals exposed….you really are deluded.

  • MaryAnn

    If you as a heterosexual female loves you some man chest then you should be happy. Film, and real life for that matter, is awash in naked male chest. And to extend that reasoning, you should feel pity for us straight dudes that we don’t see nearly as many breasts!

    You’re still not getting it, JoshB. There may be naked male chests onscreen, but there are only very rarely eroticized, even when the context could call for it. On the other hand, the naked female chest is almost always eroticized, even when the context does not seem to call for it.

    As someone who was raised in a time and place where, at least, outward suburban racism is not rampant, I have to say I’d have the same reaction a hanging (in real life or in a film) regardless of who is being hung.

    You have the same reactions. I probably would too. (Again, it all depends on the context.) But if the filmmaker was careless in how he depicted such an event, it *could* have VERY different connotations depending on the race of the person being hung.

    It seems to create a double standard. Your statement (likely unintentionally) implies that we shouldn’t show a black person being hung in a movie without referencing or making some note of the racial connotation, but why? If we’ve really moved on as a society and destroying taboos, that would include avoiding topics that are negatively sensitive.

    Tyler, I would never say we should never depict anything! But filmmakers don’t make movies in a vacuum, and audiences don’t watch them in a vacuum. Any filmmaker who either isn’t aware of this or ignores it does so at his own peril.

    For many guys, the bits that flop around when running around *shirtless* is the belly, while for women it is the breasts, so we get a breast-belly-equivalence.

    MaSch, if you’d like to construct an argument for how cinema eroticizes the flopping male belly for the titillation of the audience, go ahead.

    anyone saying that the female breasts exposed are the same as male genitals exposed….you really are deluded.

    Do you have something to add, MichelleW, to the argument? Can you explain your position better than Tim1974 was able to do?

    And Tim1974: Are you going to answer any of my questions about what, specifically, you want to see on film?

  • Tim1974

    It is time to see as much female genital exposure as male genital exposure. Plain and simple. black and white. I don’t want to hear all those excuses for why it is not being shown. All that does is continue the double standard bias towards males in reference to frontal genital nudity.

  • Mark

    It is time to see as much female genital exposure as male genital exposure. Plain and simple. black and white.

    Okay, so all of the points people have made about context and filmmaker’s intent mattering are irrelevant? Everything said about there being obvious societal differences between genders in the way nudity is experienced also doesn’t matter?

    And, still — how is this inequality of yours going to be balanced? Is it on a per-film basis, or across the industry? Who maintains the genital tally? Who forces filmmakers to insert shots of naked female crotches?

    What baffles me is that you don’t seem upset about the way male genitals are portrayed, or the variety and representativeness of those genitals. You seem fine with there being dicks on screen, as long as you get to see some pussies (or, I can perhaps charitably assume in spite of your previous odd assertions, some bushes). But if that’s the case, I don’t see why you don’t just go, you know, watch some movies with lots of naked females exposing their genitals. I understand that they aren’t particularly hard to find.

    And even stranger is that I don’t think I’ve seen you state why this is a problem for you. Cogent arguments can be made about how pervasive cinematic biases can be damaging to people in the society at large. People can argue that profanity in movies makes casual use of profanity more acceptable, and they don’t like that. Or they can argue that the depiction of a particular ethnic group creates damaging stereotypes. Or they can argue that the context in which the naked bodies of one gender are portrayed creates dehumanizing attitudes about sexuality.

    But you’ve made no such argument; all you’ve presented is an accounting discrepancy, which can be rectified — if I understand you — only by showing naked female genitals. Sorry, I just don’t get it.

  • JoshB

    You’re still not getting it, JoshB. There may be naked male chests onscreen, but there are only very rarely eroticized, even when the context could call for it. On the other hand, the naked female chest is almost always eroticized, even when the context does not seem to call for it.

    True, I don’t get it.

    Eroticism exists in the eye of the beholder. If you like a man’s chest then what can context do to take that away from you?

    How could a filmmaker show me a woman’s breasts in a way that I wouldn’t find erotic?

    For me it’s pretty much automatic: nakedness = fun for the eyes (with a maybe few exceptions, particularly rape scenes). Is this not true for you?

    Also, are you suggesting that filmmakers are unaware of the potential effect on women of putting a naked male chest on the screen?

  • Rick

    Hi,
    I agree with Tim1974, I think female and male genitals should be treated equally in movies. I understand that some people would choose not to watch these movies. What I find it difficult to understand is why a lot of people seem to think that nobody should have that choice.

    I do not like horror movies. I choose not to watch them. I do not think that movie studios should not make them. I do not think people who want to see horror movies should be forbidden to do so, or that they should be allowed to do so only if they buy a DVD from a porno store.

    If people like Tim1974 and I would like to see female genitals in a non-porno mainstream movie, that is our opinion. If enough people express that opinion, perhaps movies like that will be made. I get the impression from the preceeding comments that movies showing female genitals should not be made, even if there are sufficient people who want to see them. Am I correct, or did I misinterpret your comments?

    Rick

  • MaryAnn

    Yes, Rick, you are misinterpreting my comments. Perhaps you can answer the question I put to Tim1974, since he seems unwilling to do so: When you say you want to see female genitals onscreen, what do you mean — precisely — by that? Do you want to see shaved pussies, or extreme closeups of vulvas, or just more bushes? How you would equalize what you see as a disparity?

    For me it’s pretty much automatic: nakedness = fun for the eyes (with a maybe few exceptions, particularly rape scenes). Is this not true for you?

    Obviously, JoshB, you really don’t get what some of us are talking about. If you think the naked female breast is always and automatically erotic, I can only imagine that you’ve never seen, say, images of naked people at Auschwitz.

    And are you *really* going to tell me that this:

    http://www.ichatgay.com/img_blog/abercrombie_london.jpg

    is the equivalent of this:

    http://www.prosportswrap.com/images/john-daly-shirtless-image.jpg

    ??

  • Accounting Ninja

    Just for the record, I would love to see vaginas and vulvas on screen. Nudity is not inherently wrong. Problem is, culture doesn’t agree.

    So, I would love it if the female body were to just be allowed to be casually nude without any leering implications. Bathing scenes, lounging scenes, nudity-as-character-trait, and yes, even humor. And less-than-perfect bodies as well. Vaginas all across the board. Penises too.

    But until society stops viewing women on film’s nudity for the erotic pleasure of a viewing male, we won’t see that. Tim argues that the more nudity for males=INequality, but from where I’m standing, the sheer variety of nudity types means men are thought of as more human, complete with all the variables humanity offers, than women, who are there to titillate male viewers and “be sexy”. Nothing else, and nothing less than porno perfection, please.

    So for more female nudity of more variety (and less lasciviousness), I agree. But to say males are getting, um, shafted, well, that’s just absurd.

  • JoshB

    Obviously, JoshB, you really don’t get what some of us are talking about.

    Yes, I admitted that already. Your perspective on this really does baffle me. I don’t understand how, short of making a deliberate effort, a filmmaker could make nudity unerotic, or why one would want them to.

    If you think the naked female breast is always and automatically erotic, I can only imagine that you’ve never seen, say, images of naked people at Auschwitz.

    Well, I already mentioned rape, so it’s easy to expand on that. Images of nudity that also involve human misery are unerotic.

    Regarding the links…I don’t really count physical unattractiveness as context. If you exchanged the fat dude for one of the models but left every other aspect of the second picture the same then I have to believe you would dig that.

    Bathing scenes, lounging scenes, nudity-as-character-trait, and yes, even humor.

    But the problem here is that those scenes would be sexy. If you saw one of the models from MaryAnn’s first link doing any of those things would it escape your attention that they’re pleasing to look at?

  • Tim1974

    I would like to see vulvas in the same postion as male genitals have been placed in. I prefer to see shaved vulvas but I realize there are time periods in which it would not be realistic. As example in “The Reader.” During that time period women did not shave so in that case it would be just pubic hair. However, that is where the double standard comes in. They have the kid standing up showing his genitals but the female never stands. In the case of a film like “Harold and Kumar.” which is set in a more modern time and there are females who do shave, then show vulvas in that manner. As in society, some wold be completely shaved, some partial, and some not at all. Other than that have females in the same position as males. For example, you could have a heavy set female and average female in a nude wrestling match of sorts with the heavy set female’s vulva in the face of the female below like in “Borat.” If yoiu think that would be too graphic then don’t show males in that graphic position either. Or, you could do a close up in slow motion, like “Observe and Report,” and have pictures to see being passed around with just the vulva on display. Or, you could have a female lowering her pants and panties and rub her vulva in close up like in “Boogie Nights.” Yes, I know it was fake so have a fake vulva as well. Or, you could have a female bending over like Jason Mewes looking into the refrigerator. Or, you could film a female from the bottom lying down like in “28 Days Later.” Obviously there are many more examples but the point is if you are going to put nude males in those positions then do the same with nude females. When you don’t it is a double standard. Again, it makes no difference the reason or how it will be perceived. It should be plain and simple, black and white. As I said, anything other than that is just excuses to continue exploiting males. And for those who want to use the “the culture won’t allow it,” is just an excuse. In America the culture at one time had slavery. It was wrong and people did something about it. The same concept applies with this. It is wrong and needs to be changed. By sitting back and saying nothing means you are doing nothing but accepitng this injustice. I refuse to be quiet about it and will continue to make my point that this double standard is inexcusable. There continues to be more and more people who are starting to speak up !!!! It is long overdo and about time for change.

  • Nathan

    This is ridickulous. I don’t see twat the big deal is. I thought this thread would have petered out by now.

    But seriously, folks, Tim’s most recent post should make you realize that you’ve been had.

  • Tyler

    But filmmakers don’t make movies in a vacuum, and audiences don’t watch them in a vacuum. Any filmmaker who either isn’t aware of this or ignores it does so at his own peril.

    On one hand, this is true, but it also seems to me like it’s possible to jump the gun on such an issue. I was watching “The Work of Director Mark Romanek” and he was talking about making videos for MTV, and he said, (paraphrased) “once the video is finished, then we can talk about blurring things or editing it down, but I don’t want to pre-censor myself.” Not that it’s particularly relevant to the argument at hand, but I thought it was worth bringing up.

    Also, I agree with Josh’s statement that, as a straight man, there’s not a lot you can do to show me exposed female breasts on screen that doesn’t carry a basic level of sexual interest.

  • JoshB

    Tim1974, for the love of god man, wall o’ text! Paragraph breaks are your friends!

    Well, you answered the question about how vulvas should be displayed, and big surprise, you think they should be shaved.

    But wait, by your logic shouldn’t the guys be shaved too? Cause damn, just thinking about it makes me itch.

  • Noka

    Tim is 100% right. Modern movies (and TV) have become a forum for endless male bashing and exploitation through constant male only nudity. women’s nudity can be erotic and beautiful in movies but men’s nudity in movies is only used for one purpose – to make fools for men in public. That’s it. You never see a vagina in a mainstream movie – ever. But in at least 20-25% of movies some guy is caught in public with his dick out. Movies today suck and that’s a major reason why. The left wing PC police run the nuthouse.

  • MaryAnn

    Just picture me banging my head against a wall and screaming in frustration.

    I don’t really count physical unattractiveness as context.

    You don’t see context as context, JoshB? Why not?

    It should be plain and simple, black and white.

    The world is not plain and simple, black and white. We cannot have the things you ask for in a manner that is plain and simple, black and white.

    And you do realize, Tim1974, that women, here and now in the 21st century — real, human, sexual, sexy women — have hair on their pussies, don’t you? You do realize that women with not-shaved pussies would be historically appropriate for today, don’t you? Or are you only talking about own fantasies, Tim1974?

    And you do you realize, Tim1974, that that scene you refer to in *Borat* meant to be shocking simply because *we usually do not see male genitalia onscreen* in like this? Don’t you?

    Oh, but, Tim1974, if you want to equate the shocking lack of male nudity onscreen with slavery, you go right ahead.

  • MaSch

    MaryAnn wrote on Thursday, April 23rd:

    I’m completely fascinated by this debate, and would love to continue it. I don’t know why you’d think I wouldn’t.

    MaryAnn wrote on Sunday, April 26th:

    Just picture me banging my head against a wall and screaming in frustration.

    I guess I should have told you that I saw such a situation ahead if the discussion was to be continued. It always goes this way if it isn’t stopped early.

    By the way, have you any clips showing a flopping penis eroticized for the titillation *immature giggle* of the audience? I am still working on my argument for a male belly, but I am pretty optimistic it will be hugely convincing!

  • MaryAnn

    I don’t really count physical unattractiveness as context.

    Also meant to say: the differences between those two photos isn’t just the attractiveness of the men pictured. There’s also pose and lighting and artistry of the photographer. One photo is clearly meant to be erotic, while the other is not.

  • JoshB

    Just picture me banging my head against a wall and screaming in frustration.

    Ouch, that sounds painful… Here, have some aspirin. And remember MaryAnn: nothing is worth hurting yourself.

    Alright, while I look for a topical analgesic for the bruises on your forehead, let me tell you about this book I’m writing. It’s called “When is Context not Context: Nakedness, Beauty, and Sexuality in America.” I’m sure it’ll win the Nobel and the Pulitzer and most likely the Super Bowl, such is its awesomeness. And in my generosity, I was going to post it here, free of charge, for your edification.

    But then I learned of this curious property of my musings, that of causing you to self inflict head trauma. And health care costs being what they are, I don’t think I can afford to continue keeping you on that morphine drip for your wall-shattered cranium.

    Blessed as I am with infinite magnanimity of spirit, I’ve decided to offer you this opportunity: if you ask it of me, I will refrain from blinding you with the quasar-like brilliance of my reason. Just say the word and I’ll shut up =P

  • youknowwho

    It’s wrong to ask anyone, male or female to be naked in a movie.

    Some will say that it’s a puritan view, those that say it’s a puritan view I say, let’s put your female family members nude for the world to see.

    You may not like it if your sister or mother is nude for the world. Masturbated to worldwide. That’s what people are asking of actresses when they insist on nude scenes.

    I won’t even go into the facts, that the girls would have to part their legs, have light shine on their vulvas , etc. to see what you want to see.

    We, as healthy humans, have a sense of modesty.
    (Please don’t talk about monkeys. We have evolved a bit in many areas).

    There are may reasons for the evolution of modesty (helps control disease, fights etc.)

    It’s fairly common knowledge that, females that don’t have that natural modesty, in more cases then not, have been molested/sexually victimized. At the minimum, they have self esteem issues.

    Sure, you can find those that appear to be contradictory to what I just claimed, if you looked closer, you’d find abuse, molestation etc. Sometimes those memories are consciously or unconsciously repressed.

    It is wrong to exploit these women. And to be fair, it’s wrong to have nude men in film. Healthy men usually have this modesty too.

    I say the following with respect, not to be mean, but to open a door to health.

    People that obsess on nudity also usually have some problems, sometimes, they’ve been abused, at the least they are socially maladjusted.

    My advice is to seek to find out the true cause of your obsession for vulva on the screen. Obsessions are not healthy. It’s obviously taking alot of your time and energy. What is the drive for this posting on the internet about genitalia. It’s much deeper then looking for equality.

    If you were looking for equality, it doesn’t make sense to start w/ genitalia. It’d make more sense to start with salaries, roles etc. (for the film industry, similar issues outside the film industry).

    Having a sexual obsession is similar to hating someone, it’s a waste of time and energy. When you resolve a conflict with someone you hated, there is such a relief because all that negativity is gone. I’d look for the cause of this sexual obsession and deal with that. When you do, you can move on, grow, find balance and happiness.

    I stumbled on this conversation, I may not be coming back for replies as I am busy with work, studies and life in general. No disrespect intended if I don’t reply to replies.

  • Joe

    Tim is simply comparing one external organ to another very homologous organ on different sexes. Anatomy for anatomy, devoid of any philosophical, societal, or psychological tidbits or justifications, he is comparing the genital exposure (penis versus vulva) in the American media today. Why is it that people cannot look at this very exact comparison for what it is?

    I agree with Tim and others in that male genital exposure is becoming rampant in American media. Female nudity is still highly limited to breast and bush exposure. Vulva exposure is very rare and if it occurs will be done with a fake vulva. Why is this, especially considering the popularity of Brazilian waxes and complete vulvular bareness? I don’t think there are any solid stats out there to indicate exactly how many women shave their vulva area, or at least trim it enough to reveal the genitals to a nominal degree, but I’d say that at least 25% of young women do so. If this is in fact the case, why is finding a bare or nominally exposed vulva in film so difficult. It is very possible people are afraid to show the vulva. Many people are afraid of the vulva. How many grown men do you know of that has not examined the entirety of their genitals. As for women, there are many. Once people start considering this aspect of genital exposure, it will forever be a fight of improper perspective.

  • Rick

    Hi Mary Ann,
    Thanks for the reply; I will try to answer your questions.
    1. Yes, I think women look better without pubic hair. I have been fortunate to be able to spend some time in the rainforest of the upper Orinoco, where nudity is still acceptable, and all women there remove their pubic hair. I shave my face, and I have seen shaved armpits and scalps (male and female)in movies. It seems like the only body part that must be hairy in movies is the female pubis.
    2. No, I dont’t especially want to see close ups.
    3. No, I don’t want more pubic hair.
    4. The movie industry might equalize what I percieve as disparity if enough people express an opinion that it would be acceptable to show female genitals in movies in a non-pornographic context. Thank you for allowing me to express this opinion in your forum. Perhaps people would learn to realize that a woman’s body is not inherently obscene.

  • casey

    Tim makes an interesting point regarding the recent barrage of male genitalia in R-rated movies. Not long ago Playboy magazine did a survey asking college women what pubic hairstyle they sport and 61% responded “Bare Floor” and only 2% had a “Power Muff”. I believe Hollywood is afraid to depict what is reality regarding female genitalia on screen.

  • youknowwho

    I have some free time tonight and thought I’d check in.

    Why is it that people cannot look at this very exact comparison for what it is?

    Because people see the world through filters.

    Another hurt person who tries to deal with their problems through exhibiting sexual obsession will see the postings of some in this forum as comrades.

    An “average” person will see the same posts as the ranting of a weirdo, but will not have any insight, sympathy or empathy.

    A behavioral health provider will see the posts as a cry out from a sexually/emotionally hurt individual who doesn’t know how to deal with the problem(s) that emotionally harmed them.

    Many people are afraid of the vulva.

    That’s just funny to me. Maybe an attempt to insinuate people are homosexual if they don’t agree with you?

    I have been fortunate to be able to spend some time in the rainforest of the upper Orinoco, where nudity is still acceptable, and all women there remove their pubic hair.

    When I mentioned to please don’t bring up monkeys because we’ve evolved, I should’ve included not to bring up primitive peoples.

    Regarding the tribes of that region, If you spent time there,you’d find that incestuous relations, and women made to be submissive to be the norm. Why wouldn’t you talk about those bigger issues and injustices? You just want to talk about the naked girls. Fortunately in that culture, women can speak out to a greater degree then some cultures, but are definitely made to be submissive to men, much more then in the states.

    Many primitive cultures have similar social conditions (incest, male dominance)and many also routinely practice pedophilia. These negatives are the the norm in those cultures, not the exception, because public nudity doesn’t occur in a vacuum.

    Perhaps people would learn to realize that a woman’s body is not inherently obscene.

    True. Sexual obsession is what’s obscene.

    I hope the people posting here find help for therir hurts and some peace in their lives.

  • Joe

    By no means am I calling others homosexuals for not agreeing with me by saying that I believe many are afraid of the vulva. Perhaps you have not considered the issue enough. “V Day” is in part responsible for removing its taboo, and many feminists agree that the vulva needs more exposure so that women are not ashamed of their genitals. The word itself, many believe, carries a negative connotation that needs to be overcome. Look at the movies- how often do you hear jokes or unnecessary sentences about the vulva like you do about the male genitals? Not often. Many men are afraid to mention the it, and women think of cute terms for it as if more appropriate terms are simply too rich to use. So, when I say people are afraid of the vulva, I mean that our society as a whole has come to fear it to some extent. Whether this is rooted in patriarchy is a good question and one that I cannot answer, but I think there is no doubt that fear is present. Btw, some people here have psych degrees (myself) so your pseudo-psychobabble is not effective.

  • youknowwho
    Btw, some people here have psych degrees (myself) so your pseudo-psychobabble is not effective.

    Please don’t try to BS me.

    Second year psychology students should have a fairly good knowledge of filters/distortions/amnesia, paraphilia, PTSD, etc.

    If you were a behavioral health therapist of any type, you’d know what I say is true from your own experiences.

    The desperation/obsession is getting too out of hand.
    If one lies, it makes me wonder if multiple posters are really only one, trying to act like many.

    People will only be helped when they’re ready to be helped.

    You’ll continue to be on the internet, trying to convince people your happy and to share in an obsession for genitalia, (using every excuse in the book, equality, art, etc. because you won’t want to look in the mirror and call it an obsession- everyone has their conscious excuses (every paraphilia, smoking, alcoholism, etc. all comes from pain, and/or a need consciously recognized or not,-ok there are exceptions, brain injuries etc.) you’ll find some other socially maladjusted people to share your views, and none of you will ever have any balanced, happy relationships in the real world until you have a realization.

    Next you’ll want to post a reply to this saying your married, happy etc. please don’t lie. Just look in a mirror and be honest. Make your breakthrough, get healthy on your own or with help.

    Good luck.

  • Joe

    To end this already: stop trying to build yourself up to appear god-like. Your demeanor indicates to me that you are in no way a professional in psychology, and if you are you are a therapist the impetus for your field of choice was the smorgasbord of your own mental health issues. I know quite well what constitutes OCD and sexual obsessions. You have strong points as they relate to psychological theory but that in no way indicates that I have an obsession on the matter, nor anyone else in this room. You should know that diagnostic criteria in the DSM is extensive. To stand strong on any issue could be construed as obsession or a maladjustment to some degree. Would you call feminists set on equality to be obsessed and mentally sick? Well I’m sure some are. Would you call news anchors who try to get the juiciest stories to be sick? I’m sure some are as well. However, to stand strong on an issue, and to have it not affect overall happiness and lifestyle, one does not necessarily have a problem. I could even take it so far as to say you’re obsessed with your holier-than-thou responses and the sensation of power you derive from them.

    The issue I have with your approach is that you’re attacking my argument and points with an ad hominem argument. This is weak and unnecessary. If one truly has a strong argument, he/she attacks the argument itself and uses strong points to reduce it. Please refrain from your immature way of attacking others, it reflects badly on yourself; rather attack the argument of genital exposure with better arguments. Thanks.

  • youknowwho

    I’m sorry you feel I’m trying to act god-like.
    Empathy/sympathy from a clinical point may not translate on the internet well. I take the blame for that.

    People before me on this thread already explained away the specific points of your arguments. I’m adding experience in from another angle.

    I stumbled on this discussion and added my two cents. Your turning hostile, and I’ve heard a couple of lies from your side. I have other things to do then hangout as long as I have on a movie site.

    I hope you find peace.

  • MaryAnn

    Not long ago Playboy magazine did a survey asking college women what pubic hairstyle they sport and 61% responded “Bare Floor” and only 2% had a “Power Muff”.

    Of course, college women who would respond to a survey about their pubic hair are representative of all women.

    Or only the ones who count, I guess.

    Why is this, especially considering the popularity of Brazilian waxes and complete vulvular bareness?

    I can’t believe so many men think what they see in porn is a reflection of reality.

  • MaryAnn

    youknowwho and Joe: Stay on topic, and don’t get personal.

  • MaSch

    Stay on topic

    We’ve wandered far from topic
    with Tim’s very first comment,
    when we started discussing the counting
    of dicks and cunts and boobs,
    And wondered if male genitalia
    were equal to female breasts.

    This is probably the only place on the internet where this movie spawned an eager discussion not focusing on the “date rape” scene. This is also probably the only place on the internet where this movie is discussed and the thread-starter actually *saw* the fucking thing.

  • youknowwho

    I thought I’d pop in to clarify something. I choose not to go back and forth with Tim mainly because he feels the need to lie to make his point.

    When someone says they have a “psych degree” I would expect them to know and to realize (when I invited him to heal his hurts)I was speaking of the idea of, symptoms as a cure, or as coping methods. Not the symptom as the problem (this is basic psych stuff).

    Regarding the feminists, this is a wide subject. Many, yes have been emotionally harmed and some deal with it in a positive way and resolve the deeper issues, and hopefully others will too. Feminism is way too complex to wrap up in a psychological nutshell.

    Regarding the news anchor example he gave (news anchors just read from teleprompters, he probably meant reporters), that’s their job. It pays the bills, it’s a public service ect.

    Most everyone has had hurts. Not everyone displays the symptoms of those hurts on movie review websites. I found it interesting. And sad.

    Have a good weekend everybody!

  • Victor Plenty

    The comments from youknowwho are on-topic in a way. After all, this started out as a discussion of a movie about people with deep psychological issues that get played out unpredictably in a public forum.

  • youknowwho

    (I wish we could edit a previous post)
    I knew when I invited him to look into his hurts and overcome them, that he would probably meet with resistance, I just wanted to plant the seed so that one day he may have an epiphany and find closure.

  • youknowwho

    Ah! Thank you Victor! Interesting angle! I heard about the, I’ll say,unusual nature, of this movie and that brought me to check the reviews.

    Again, have a good weekend everyone!

  • Tim1974

    Where youknowweho did I lie ?

  • wiggles

    But was she unconscious before he started fucking her?

    I hate these damn conversations. Rape apologia gives me hives.
    You see her puke all over herself without even realizing it and you see him all but carry her into his house because she can’t even walk on her own. A person in that condition is incapable of consent.

    Does inebriation automatically mean that a woman is utterly unable to give consent to sex?

    At that level? Yes.

    Doesn’t that infantilize women in a way that we don’t concede to men?

    Oh spare me. When it becomes a regular occurrence for men to wake up with broom handles busted off in their asses and be told by and large that it’s their fault for not keeping a better eye on their drink, come talk to me.

  • MaryAnn

    So you’re suggesting, wiggles, that men have to be more responsible than women?

    And do you also contend that this does not infantilize women?

    If a woman is drunk or high and consents to sex, are you suggesting that this is equivalent to a woman who is drunk or high and says no, or a woman who is not drunk or high and says no?

    And I’d love to hear you answer my previous question: Should men be excused from accusations of rape if they are drunk or high?

  • JoshB

    So you’re suggesting, wiggles, that men have to be more responsible than women?

    Wiggles made a distinction about the degree of drunkeness. I suspect that he/she is suggesting that a less drunk person has to be more responsible than a more drunk person.

    Or maybe not. If I’m putting words in your mouth, Wiggles, please feel free to tell me how dumb I am :P

  • Goon

    Tim posts on this activist forum in order to get people to help him spam this thread and seem more numerous as the common opinion:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Fight_the_MPAA/message/120

    if you see him around again, with ‘friends’, know its a targeted attack and not an accurate polling of actual views on this issue. Stacking the deck.

  • Hypocee

    So walk up to a woman in public and disintegrate her shirt. Turn to a man and disintegrate his shirt.

    Do their reactions differ?

    Golly. Guess that settles that.

  • JoshB

    Hypocee, I tend to think their reaction would be the same. Something along the lines of “What is this sartorial vaporization technology that you’ve used to dissolve the molecular structure of my upper body garment?!!! I liked that shirt, asswipe!”

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