A TV commercial that promotes the nudist lifestyle and brings up interesting questions about sexualisation and moralising.
It’s perhaps a sign of how little we’ve progressed as a society that, some sixty-odd years after nudist films first made their way into cinemas – passed by censors because the naturist lifestyle was deemed not to be about sex and because the naked human body was accepted as nothing to be scared of – many people still look at naturists with suspicion and worry. Whether it is a petition against nude evenings at swimming baths or concerns about naked sunbathing, the fear of bare flesh is deeply ingrained in a large part of society. While the objections will often be dressed up as concern for children – the idea that nudist activities will immediately attract paedophiles who will prey on children in attendance – the truth is that the real objections come down to good, old-fashioned moralising who think that the naked body is inherently obscene. For the purse-lipped, there can be no reason other than a sexual one for wanting to be naked.
Other countries have a less puritanical approach to public nudity – Germany, for instance, has a long tradition of nude sunbathing in public spaces without it leading to a spike in sex crime, and some other countries in Europe also seem more chilled about the whole thing. Even in Britain, where tutting moralising is pretty much a way of life, it’s not actually illegal to be naked in public, as long as you are not doing so for sexual reasons or with the intention of upsetting people. We don’t suggest trying it though – the case of the Naked Rambler shows that the law on paper and legal action in practice are very different things.
All this preamble is to lead up to this 2005 French TV commercial for a naturist organisation – something that would be pretty much unthinkable in more prudish countries. The ad plays on the idea of sexualisation with a naked but pixelated woman taking off her pixel-bikini and so playing with ideas of indecency – by blurring out body parts, are we not simply drawing attention to them? Would the woman seem as sexually alluring had she not first been effectively sexualised by the pixelation? By censoring nudity, we make it all about sex rather than allowing it to be a normal part of life – a message that will be lost on many, I fear.
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