Why Is 'Nudity' Synonymous With 'Artistic'?

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In advance of their new romantic comedy, Love and Other Drugs, Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal "bared all" on the cover of Entertainment Weekly to drum up publicity. But the marketing campaign—as well as the frequent, casual undress shown in the film—only underscored a query by Newsweek's Jennie Yabroff, who wondered when movie nudity became a sign of serious, artistic pretensions.

Not so long ago (in the "Porky's era"), gratuitous nudity was "pretty much de rigueur for American actresses until they became big-enough stars to say no," she argues. But "increasingly nudity has become a self-congratulatory indication of European-style seriousness, an interruption of the narrative to remind the audience we are watching A Work of Art." And while movie sex scenes are often filmed casually, they are "in fact" the most "tensely negotiated" moments behind the scenes. (Hathaway and Gyllenhaal apparently demanded that the film's director, Ed Zwick, also disrobe when they shot the film's poster.)

Yabroff isn't in favor of prohibiting all types of movie nudity. She'd just rather see explicit nudity in films only when it is "natural" and "necessary" to character or plot development. And, yes, it can also be "just as jarring when an otherwise realistic film goes to absurd lengths to pretend the actors never see each other in less than their underwear or strategically wrapped sheets," she readily admits.

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