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Naked Men in Film

Naked men are still very rarely seen in film. Today's cinema has made a few moves towards accepting full frontal male nudity, but essentially things remain the same as they were fifty years ago. Movies just don't do naked men.

It's a longstanding tradition that a film may happily show female nudity in its entirety, but the penis is a no-no. You may get tastefully lit shots of a male backside to indicate nudity, but otherwise getting a peek at the penis is extremely rare.

Why is this? A feminist would speculate that it is the result of a male-dominated society (and industry) seeking to preserve its power by hiding the symbol of that power - the dick. If the penis remains unseen, it is still mysterious and powerful.

Another line of reasoning suggests it comes down to assumptions about the audience of a film. It seems that filmmakers assume the majority of their audience is male (or that the important viewers are male) and therefore those audience members will not want to see other men naked. This is essentially a homophobic idea, especially if it comes down to the thought that a potential viewer may not spend their money on the film if there is a dick in it (whereas a naked woman would have the opposite effect).

In any case, the absence of naked men in film is a source of frustration and insult to many women. Why are we less important? Why is the male actor's dick so sacred? Why is it assumed that women won't fork out money to see a film with full frontal male nudity?

There have been a number of notable exceptions to the no-male-nudity-in-film tradition. One of the finer examples of it is Harvey Keitel's naked piano-polishing scene in The Piano. This scene is a landmark because director Jane Campion deliberately shot it as an erotic depiction of a naked man, with a female audience in mind. The camera lingers lovingly on the not-so-perfect body of Keitel, allowing viewers to unabashedly look at a naked man, penis and all. This has happened so rarely in cinema, it's hard to find another mainstream film that offers a similar thing.

A champion of cinematic male nudity is Scottish actor Ewan McGregor. Ewan has appeared naked in almost every film he's been in, including The Pillow Book, Velvet Goldmine, Trainspotting and most recently Young Adam.

Ewan had this to say about his proclivity to get naked in his films. "There was this trend in the '80s of gratuitous sex scenes where women were always naked and men never were. So I just thought I was doing it for the sisters."

He has also said: "It's a great feeling of power to be naked in front of people. We're happy to watch actual incredible graphic violence and gore, but as soon as somebody's naked it seems like the public goes a bit bananas about the whole thing."

Here's a list of other notable male nude scenes:
Richard Gere - American Gigolo
Geoffrey Rush - Quills
Simon Callow - Room with a View
Julian Sands - Room with a View
Bruce Willis - Color of Night
Edward Norton - American History X
John Malkovich - The Sheltering Sky

More articles on this topic:

Full Frontal Male Nudity in Film - Sex for Women Info


Pictures of naked men at For The Girls Ezine and Erotica for Women


This site has heaps of gay beefcake hunks

True Male Celebs offers an archive of paparazzi photos and still frames from movies with full frontal male nudity. If you're curious about how your favourite male star looks in the buff, they'll probably have a photo here. This site seems to be aimed at gay surfers but I think there's heaps here to make women happy too.

Full Frontal: Male Nudity Video Guide
by Steve Stewart (editor) $12.95

This book lists male full frontal appearances in mainstream films, shorts, and documentaries. If you want to know who was nude where, this is the book to own. It even has an actor's index, so you can look up your favourite leading man.

Total Exposure: The Movie Buff's Guide to Celebrity Nude Scenes
by Jami Bernard

The Bare Facts Video Guide 1998
by Craig Hosoda



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