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maryann johanson | #BlackLivesMatter

newsflash: men have penises!

Shocking news from Hollywood! Individuals of the male half of the human species each apparently has an appendage of a sexual nature dangling between his legs. This breakthrough discovery has been made by the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, as reported yesterday at the Internet Movie Database:

In the latest exhibition of taboo busting, Jason Segel, the star of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, will be seen totally naked in one scene in which his character is rejected by his girlfriend, played by Kristin Bell. Reporting on the scene, today’s (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times commented that the amount of full-frontal male nudity in the scene is “unprecedented” and that when the movie was screened at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, TX last month, “every time Segel was shown au naturel, the totality of his package nearly brought the house down with laughter.”


Now, sure, it’s true that men are nude onscreen far less frequently than women are, and that it’s high time for some parity in this, um, area. But that’s not what’s happening in Sarah Marshall. The scene referred to above is all about shocking the audience with Segel’s anatomy — which works, apparently, if even a hip Austin crowd can be completely unaware of what men look like naked. There’s nothing suprising or unusual about the nudity within the context of the scene: they’re in the privacy of his apartment, and the characters have been dating for five years, so presumably she’s so used to seeing him naked that it barely even registers with her. And in fact, the clear intent of the scene is to make the audience laugh at his nudity, even to the point of distraction from the characters’ conversation (which may be a good thing, because it could not be more dull).

So it’s not about busting taboos at all, but about using the fact of the taboo to get a cheap laugh. If Sarah Marshall wanted to bust taboos about male nudity, it wouldn’t have reduced it to a juvenile joke, which only reinforces the idea that there’s something naughty about it.

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