Nudity in the Movies – A brief history
Nudity in the Movies
Nudity in the Movies - The first motion picture ever made in 1878 was Eadweard Muybridge’s infamous galloping horse. Ever since then, rumors are that the second film Muybridge made was of a nude woman and a Shetland pony. What is known is that he did film completely naked men and women walking down staircases and turning in a circle from 1884 – 1887.
Frontal nude actresses were considered acceptable in cinema as early as “Inspiration” (1915.) The nudity passed censors because all of the nude women that were posing for artists. But if that nude woman began engaging in sexual acts, then the film was banned or became “men-only” films where mostly clad men had their way with almost completely naked young women.
Naked women, especially filmed from the navel up, are expected in films these days. In 2009, British celebrity actress Kate Winslet won the Oscar for Best Actress in “The Reader” (2008), a film where she spends considerable portion of time completely naked. For the most part, all nude women shown in movies were young and beautiful. If a certain part was not considered attractive enough, it could be played by a body double. Arguably, the most famous is Shelley Michelle, who doubled for Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” (1990.)
Small children under the age of six, male or female, were allowed to be in mainstream movies as early as “Tarzan of the Apes” movies serial of 1918. Even during the ultra-conservative Reagan years in America, the hit film “Superman” (1979) featured a brief scene of a young boy in full frontal nudity. Nude children were acceptable, even males, because of their perceived innocence.
But full frontal nudity for adult male actors still makes even the most liberal moviegoer uncomfortable. If the man was not facing the camera, then that is easier to slip by the censors than if the actor were facing the camera in all his naked glory. The first time a movie was not condemned for full frontal male nudity was “The Crying Game” (1992) where a brief nude scene was central to the plot. But under no circumstances is an aroused naked man allowed to be filmed in mainstream media. This is still taboo and probably will be for many years to come.
There seems to be something about a penis that makes people uncomfortable. I am not too sure why this is the case, perhaps people could comment and share their thoughts.
Why is society so accepting of female nudity but not of male nudity?