Over the past few years, the film and television industry has made ground breaking advances in the way our entertainment is made. Whether it be the switch from cartoons to CGI animated features, multi-channel surround sound, or digital special effects, it's clear that we're living in a prolific time for the movie industry. I'm sure that filmmakers of the past could never have imagined that something like the visual spectacle that was Mad Max: Fury Road would even be possible.
The advances are not only technical, though. We are also living in a time where a strong female lead is celebrated.
Jodie Foster was chosen as the sole representative of the human race in Contact,
Jessica Chastain found and killed Osama Bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty,
Sandra Bullock survived space in Gravity,
Jennifer Lawrence lead a revolution in The Hunger Games,
and Emily Blunt was the military's poster-child in Edge of Tomorrow,
...just to name a few. Social justice and equality is being fought for in films like Milk and Freeheld, as well as The Help and Selma. Yes, this is a very exciting time for cinema.
As the industry becomes more inclusive, it invites a level of realism that some believe can only be achieved through nudity and violence. Censorship has become more lax. The show Hannibal was on NBC for Christ's sake (best show ever, by the way)! For the most part, I love it. We're seeing things on film that no one dared create in the past. Shows that allow for nudity and macabre images (HBO, Cinemax, Showtime) seem "raw" rather than contrived. However, there is a line where "rawness" and "realism" can cross into gratuitous.
Four of the five Oscar nominated/winning women listed above have done full-frontal nudity. And if they were the ones campaigning for it, then great! But is it really necessary for a woman to be shown "full frontal" just to walk into the bedroom of a man? Does the director think his audience is so dumb that we wouldn't pick up on her intentions if she had been shown in a slip or the camera had cut her off just below the clavicle? To add insult to injury, this issue seems to be one sided- meaning that women are the only ones made to strip down. Sure, men spend a lot of time shirtless on screen, and I appreciate the Magic Mike movies for really playing that out, but the fact that women can be shown fully nude in a sex scene while a man leaves his boxers or his shirt on seems unfair. The media made a big to-do about Tom Hiddelson showing his butt in Crimson Peak, yet Kate Mara posing for topless photographs in House of Cards was just another day at work? It's possible that some of the woman who do onscreen nudity feel empowered by it, and when it's part of the character (like Chastain in Jolene or Blunt in My Summer of Love) I understand it, but it's also possible that some actresses believe it's just what they have to do because it's expected that women fulfill their audience's fantasies.
I'm not arguing for no nudity or complete nudity for both men and women. What I want is smart, necessary nudity equally dispersed between the sexes. If there's going to be a graphic sex scene, by all means, lose the top! But only when the scene is necessary to the plot and/or to the character's chemistry.