Should we care that Ashley Judd, the former actress and potential Senate candidate, performed nude in several Hollywood films at the peak of her career in the 1990s? Let's look at the latest over-the-top controversy of a Kentucky race with no shortage of drama.
Over the weekend, Daily Caller editor Taylor Bigler listed the films in which Judd appeared nude after peeking at Judd's entry on MrSkin.com, "the world's foremost authority on celebrity nudity." (It's the same website that Seth Rogen's character discovers in the 2007 film Knocked Up, and which Seth MacFarlane invoked at the Oscars.) Bigler asks us: "Will Judd be the first potential senator who has — literally — nothing left to show us?"
On Monday morning, in a long, haranguing essay, Alyssa Rosenberg at Think Progress responded: "Attacking Judd for her nude scenes is part and parcel of the right's current strategy to discredit promising female advocates." Shortly thereafter, Daily Caller editor Alex Pappas defended his website's piece on Twitter:
@juddlegum That may be the stupidest Think Progress piece I've ever read. Calm down guys. Nobody attacked Ashley Judd.— Alex Pappas (@AlexPappasDC) March 4, 2013
Nothing cracks me up more than when the lefty folks over at Think Progress freak out over something written by our entertainment team— Alex Pappas (@AlexPappasDC) March 4, 2013
It goes without saying that politicos right and left are equally fascinated with the naked bodies, male and female, of others. On one hand, Pappas is right: Bigler didn't actually attack Judd so much as marshal innuendo — and The Daily Caller just loves nude photos. But Democrats have been guilty of this, too: Responding to former Senator Scott Brown's nude photo shoot for Cosmopolitan, Elizabeth Warren told a debate audience that she "kept her clothes on" and "borrowed money" in order to pay for school.
But in the same way Scott Brown's photo shoot didn't actually matter — seriously, it didn't — neither does Ashley Judd's acting career. Her potential campaign to replace Sen. Mitch McConnell in Kentucky has a lot less to do with the quality of her acting and more to do with her decision to take up political activism — with a focus on poverty and HIV treatment — at the cost of her Hollywood stature. (Her last really big film, Double Jeopardy, came out in 1999.) Which means, as Pappas was quick to note on Twitter, that Judd's film nudity isn't disqualifying, exactly, but serves — like Brown's — as a colorful portion of her biography:
@alexpappasdc Kind of sad that you view everything as an attack. How many other senate candidates have same background?It's interesting.— Alex Pappas (@AlexPappasDC) March 4, 2013