Game of Nudes

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The awesome Anna Holmes on the copious T&A served up by HBO's high fantasy:


Frequent and often outlandish, the show's eroticism often overshadows or distracts from the actual story. It's not just me: After the copious amounts of T&A during the show's first season reached a nadir of absurdity with a now-notorious scene involving two prostitutes pleasuring each other, Onion AV Club television critic Myles McNutt was moved to coin the term "sexposition" to describe the way the show's producers often arbitrarily shoehorn sex into the narrative as a way to cover up potentially snooze-inducing exposition. 

The second season isn't much better. April 8's episode, "The Night Lands," depicted a three-way peep show of sorts that seemed to serve no purpose except to show as many kinds of heterosexual sex in as short a time span as possible. And on April 14, just two weeks after the new season began, NBC's "Saturday Night Live" ran a faux promo joking that "Throne's" success is partly attributable to the involvement of a creative consultant named Adam Friedberg, a fictional 13-year-old boy.

Yeah, regrettably (probably for me) this is one of the reasons I've avoided the show. I'll generally watch all sorts of scenes of sex and violence. (I just watched an Michael Haneke film where a guy took a switchblade to his throat and blood spurted all over the wall.) But I really need to trust the story-teller. Gratuitous sex and violence always feels like betrayal for me. It feels like the story-teller (because this happens in literature, too) is saying, "Here is respectable way for you to enjoy porn." But I don't much care about being respectable.

If there's one thing I've enjoyed about exploring French film it's that the film-makers don't always come off as bunch of nerds compensating for something that did--or rather didn't--happen in high school. There's a strain of thought here (and maybe abroad) which holds that violating manners is--in and of itself--an aesthetic good, that art which makes your grandmother uncomfortable has, for only that reason, advanced society. (You see the same strain of thought in "ironic racism.") I'd rather art that considers manners largely irrelevant.

It's not that these guys don't have issues either. I'd really like to see a good feminist take on Truffaut's "The Man Who Loved Women," for instance. But I have seen more male frontal nudity in the past few months in French films then I've seen in all my time watching American flicks. It's as if the whole country is saying, "Yes we like sex. Move on."

But now we're far afield. Je m'excuse.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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