Naked Truths

"Critics weigh in on what makes nudity in film wrong, right, and R-rated"
Many Film Forum readers and visitors to my own film-review site persist in telling me that Christians have no place at R-rated movies, due to the prevalence there of bad language, violence, and nudity. Yet others find many "restricted" films to be as meaningful and challenging as films that fall on the "safe" side of the line. It's an important subject, raising questions about the purpose of art, the responsibilities of artists and audiences, the demands of parenting, and the state of the current film ratings system. It also calls into question the proper definitions of various terms— pornography, erotic, sex, and lust, to name a few.

Nudity is a timely and volatile subject to explore first. Recently, the action flick Swordfish was celebrated by the entertainment press. Half the film's press coverage dished on the apparently monumental news that the supporting actress was going to appear topless. The film, more commercial entertainment than art, did big business. The studio shamelessly used the nudity as one (two?) of the movie's hottest selling points and even teased us with it in the ads. Rumors flew that Warner Bros. had paid an alarming fee for her to drop her dress. Whatever happened behind the scenes, Hollywood has learned its lesson well: sex sells, and Hollywood is not afraid to capitalize on it. Do such reckless Hollywood directors, producers, and actors spoil the freedoms of artists who have more integrity, and who might use nudity in a film appropriately? Or is there no appropriate case for birthday suits on the big screen? Critics in the religious media were generous in sharing their carefully phrased opinions. It pains me to abbreviate any of their well-rounded arguments; all of them had worthwhile contributions. ...

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July/August
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