’50 Shades of Grey’ Won’t Feature Any Male Nudity, So Who Is This Movie For Anyway?
One of the great celebratory moments of 2014 was seeing Ben Affleck nude in ‘Gone Girl‘ (and a little bit of Neil Patrick Harris too, if you were paying attention). It’s not as if us women are male-nudity-starved, craven maniacs just salivating for a glimpse of wang or something, but with all the rampant female nudity and objectification that permeates pop culture, it’s nice to see a little equality. So it’s disheartening to hear that Jamie Dornan will not be appearing fully nude in ‘50 Shades of Grey,’ as if that movie needed another reason to be avoided.
Dornan broke the news to The Guardian, saying:
There were contracts in place that said that viewers wouldn’t be seeing my, um … Todger? Yeah, my todger … You want to appeal to as wide an audience as possible without grossing them out. You don’t want to make something gratuitous, and ugly, and graphic.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s back up for a second here. “Gratuitous, ugly, and graphic.” Okay, first of all, the book on which this “film” is based is gratuitous and graphic, which is why so many women bought the damn thing in the first place. It’s not a good book, it’s not well-written — it began its life as ‘Twilight’ fan-fic, and it has a horrible misunderstanding of BDSM and a submissive/dominant sexual relationship, with the end result reading as utterly abusive. Hopefully this has been fixed for the film.
That (major) quibble aside — the primary draw of this whole ’50 Shades of Grey’ thing is the sex and their target demographic is going to see this movie expecting steamy action, not softcore porn. You want softcore porn with people awkwardly bumping against each other and making sex noises with lots of glowing shots of naked women, you turn on Cinemax at two in the morning. And judging from this quote from Dornan, we’re probably going to see plenty of his co-star, Dakota Johnson, in the nude. Sure, it’ll be tasteful, like a romance novel.
But you know what? ’50 Shades of Grey’ wasn’t a romance novel. It was trash. For as much as I hate that book and everything it represents and the messages it’s teaching the young women who read it, it’s at least “gratuitous and graphic” where it counts. There are penises. There are vaginas. It’s got sex. It may have some very juvenile theatrics, but the sex is there. The people who purchased that book and who are going to see this film aren’t going to see it for the gooey relationship drama or for Christian Grey’s dummy helicopter rides. They’re going for the graphic sex. You know it. I know it.
Dornan refers to the idea of his nudity as “ugly,” and that’s something else we need to get over — the idea that full-frontal male nudity is ugly. We need to normalize this. We’ve made half-naked, scantily clad, and fully-nude women such a normal part of our media consumption, and we celebrate the objectification of them — it’s a cultural norm. This is why seeing Ben Affleck naked in ‘Gone Girl’ is a big deal. This is why something like ‘Magic Mike’ almost caused mass hysteria. This is why when you walk into a male strip club you see women acting rowdy. There’s this weird stigma attached to male nudity, while women are expected to be sexualized and objectified.
And what does Dornan’s quote say about the intent of the film? It says that this is a film that seeks to solely objectify the female star, which doesn’t bode well and doesn’t seem particularly fair. It’s just more of the same boring, generic, faux-provocative stuff we’ve been delivered time and again. It’s strange to live in a world where the ’50 Shades of Grey’ book is going to be more edgy than its film adaptation, but at least we know neither one will be good.