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violence vs. nudity in American media

Wednesday 25 March, 2009

This article by Michael Phillips in the Arts & Entertainment section of the Sunday Chicago Tribune Why you shouldn’t take kids to see ‘Watchmen’ really touched a nerve with me so I have to comment on it.  It highlights how accepting America is of violence & moralistic in depictions of the (naked) human body.  Movie ratings are the most obvious example of this  cultural bias which I think reflects worse than just about anything on how America depicts itself to the world, & conversely, how the world sees America.  What’s scarier is that there are those who contend that this glorification of violence has no effect on our real lives, a point on which I disagree.  You’re fooling yourself if you think watching your hero splatter the bad guy who gets what he deserves in the end doesn’t lead to the same kind of behavior in children.  They follow their role models & our role models shoot ’em up.  I have a friend who hasn’t allowed her 2 boys to see the Disney film Sleeping Beauty because of the violent end to which the witch falls in that story.  I’m with her.

On the other hand, a naked breast revealed on national television is a natural catastrophe & worth squandering millions of dollars to protect the sanctity of America.  What a waste of resources.  The rest of the world just laughs at us, & for good reason.  Naked bodies among consenting adults should be allowed to those who want to see them.  I lived & worked in Germany for a couple of years.   The house where I lived abutted a babbling brook on the back of the English Gardens, where 100’s if not 1000’s of Germans, young & old,  literally hung out naked when it was warm enough each summer.  You’ll see the occasional naked body on television in Europe, which you rarely see in the states, except on pay television.  I see no harm in these & even came to enjoy them.  We preach morality, yet have a tremendous poverty problem & don’t even provide health insurance for all children.  What hypocrisy.

In a business sense, it undermines our credibility with European customers & partners.  Violence fuels our aggressive approach where we lack any subtlety in dealing with others on their own terms.  We are known as swashbuckling urban cowboys who are great at the art of the deal, but weak in recognizing the cultural differences required to make these deals work.  We preach 1 thing, openness & transparency in business, yet contradict ourselves with another, when confronted with an open or transparent blouse.  Freaking out at the sight of some nakedness just highlights the skewed moralistic values with which we are imbued from an early age.  Some may claim nudity is inherently sexist, but today it’s equal-opportunity.  Just as many men are being shown nude onscreen as women these days.

Getting naked creates lives.  Violence ends lives.  Why do we OK the viewing of the latter while decrying the depiction of the former?  Make love, not war.

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