How are you doing? I was watching the most recent Epic Rap Battle of History on YouTube today, between J.R.R Tolkien and George R.R. Martin. And there was a specific idea about art that popped into my head that made me want to discuss a cliché that I think may have emerged a bit in the modern era. Specifically, I wanted to talk about nudity. Back in the 50s and 60s, nudity was considered edgy. It was grossly illegal—I mean this was an age where the media worried about showing Elvis below the waist. Seriously.
But nowadays, finding someone trying to be edgy with sexuality is just not as powerful. Seriously, go ahead, open Instagram and search “#model.” I’m almost certain you can find someone posing in a “risky” manner, or half nude. You could probably find some people that are even fully nude if the site didn’t have guidelines about how much nudity someone could show. And it would mostly be for artistic purposes.
Yet we’re now so used to this, that even George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones isn’t really that hard to watch. The nudity is just that—nudity. So why do we still talk up the idea of being nearly naked as so “risky?” Well, aside from personal risk, which I’m sure is a very fair thing, and I won’t discount this, I think the “artistic” riskiness is really just a cover nowadays. Is the Carl’s Jr. commercial with the 100th barely dressed woman really that much of a risk? No. We’re just pandering to our own sexualities now.
Which I guess to some extent is artistic. Art is not just about being eloquent, beautiful, and barrier breaking. It’s also about appealing to internal emotions. A lot of it has to do with simply appealing to the internal. But that isn’t really a risky thing. It’s much more about knowing an audience. Which is pandering (and that’s fine, sometimes to succeed a person has to pander). But I’m so over the 10,000th thin, white woman posing with an arm covering her breasts and a flower over her vagina as something that is an “artistic risk.” It’s not. It’s just another way that the male centered media has managed to convince women to objectify themselves.
Sure, it’s great for the woman. And people should be able to accept a female or a male for their body, no matter the stretch marks, no matter the belly size, etc. But we need to stop trivializing the idea that nudity is a risk by calling every piece of nude artwork a risk. It’s not. What’s risky is being boring. It’s hard to make a piece of successful art that is plain and simple. The Mona Lisa is a great piece of artwork not because it’s a woman in, at the time, somewhat debatably low cut clothing. It’s great because there’s so much to the person. She’s pretty, but she’s also plain. Is she really smiling? Is she smiling because she’s happy? Is she a mother? It’s a defining piece of artwork because it’s just so deep.
There’s no depth to nudity anymore. At least, not for me. Every woman is beautiful. Some people don’t understand that, some people will never understand that. What we really need to learn to understand is they ways in which women are valuable in more than just their physical sense. And that means taking the risk of being a little boring—because the mundane chores of life are hard to display in a way that is intriguing to people.