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Opening Arguments

Back to the jungle

We all know that standards have relaxed so much that we are more tolerant of sex and nudity in the popular culture. But this suggests we have taken a further step:

Two decades after a nude photo scandal helped cost a Miss America her title, Americans may be adopting a more ho-hum attitude toward people who bare it all for the cameras.

Some experts say the Internet and more explicit TV are fostering a more relaxed response by Americans to public displays of bare flesh, even if many people profess to be more conservative.

Take, for example, the muted reaction to nude photos of 18-year-old Vanessa Hudgens, the star of Walt Disney Co.'s squeaky clean "High School Musical" franchise.

[. . .]

Millions of wired youths share private or embarrassing pictures or videos with each other daily on cell phones or social Web sites like Facebook and MySpace.com.

"There's no doubt about it. The Web for the last 10 years, has made more nudity available," Levinson said. "I predict in the next few years, the FCC will be put in its proper place and nudity will be the norm," he said.

I doubt that "nudity will be the norm," but the barriers between private and public behavior are clearly being eroded. Nudity became a taboo for a reason -- removing an aid to our sexual imagination helped us survive the beasts that were chasing us through the jungle. Our "millions of wired youth" are NOT taking us to the future but back to the past.


Mon, 09/17/2007 - 12:39pm

>>removing an aid to our sexual imagination helped us survive the beasts that were chasing us through the jungle.<<

I'm not sure I really understand the hypothesis here -- cultures that were too busy masturbating neglected to run from marauding tigers and, therefore, didn't replicate?

I think, without knowing for an absolute certainty, that taboos over nudity are a more recent creation and tend to be more associated with Western culture. It might be more of an aid to certain kinds of patriarchy than to survival and replication generally.

And, no, I'm not a Women's Studies scholar. But, I do know from history books of the Age of Exploration that European explorers tended to be much more hung up about nudity than many of the cultures they encountered.

A J Bogle
Mon, 09/17/2007 - 3:05pm

And it is even more proounced in US culture. Europeans and Canadians for example aren't nearly as hug up about it as we tend to be.

W. D.
Mon, 09/17/2007 - 11:21pm

In the majority of cases, nudity would be a deterrent to, rather than an aid to our sexual imagination.

A J Bogle
Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:15am