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Naked Presenters

One thing that I have noticed on TV is that even when a programme involves a lot of nudity, the presenters rarely get naked themselves. Even on something like Naked Attraction (Channel 4 - UK) where all of the contestants (contributors?) are naked at some point in the programme there is no nudity from the host herself. Anna Richardson has posted some nude photos online over the years - including a set that she uploaded as part of an investigation into revenge porn - so I have to assume she is not against the idea of being seen naked herself, but despite that I do not believe she has ever hosted the show nude.

So what is the problem with hosts being nude? Is there some sort of "broadcasting standards" rule that says that hosts have to remain clothed at all times, regardless of the content of the programme? Or is it more that hosts prefer to retain some sort of "professionalism" in the image they present, and they feel that appearing nude might undermine that? This latter seems unlikely given how many of them have posted nude selfies online or appeared in nude fashion / model shoots at some point, so it has to be something to do with the production companies themselves.

I have worked in and around the film / TV world for years, and the one thing I know is that when the cameras are not rolling pretty much everyone gets naked as often as possible. I have been to formal networking meetings where everyone ended up naked in the pool. A colleague had a flat in central London that he used as a meeting and hang out space for his various business interests, but for some reason there was a bath in the middle of the main room, and it was often in use by someone whilst we were talking about his latest project. Nudity just happens, and no-one seems to care... so why do presenters always seem to stay more dressed than the subject of their programmes?

If anyone knows, drop me a line.

Posted by: Graham   Permalink: link   Keywords: Art  Television  blog  

Nudity in Film

A number of years ago, I was asked to make a film about a naturist club that showed their daily life and how they relate to the community around them. It was going to be a documentary with a bit of a plot added in - a 'dramumentary' or 'docu-drama' as they are sometimes called - and would be sold on DVD to raise funds for the club. As part of my early production research, one of the first things I did was to contact the BBFC (the UK organisation tasked with age-certifying UK film releases) and ask them for advice on what certificate would be achievable for a film of this type. They were understandably reluctant to give any definitive answers without seeing the film first, but they did give me some general advice on the sort of things that would earn certain certificates, and this advice surprised me a lot.

Even if your film is a 'U' certificate, a film that is deemed suitable for everyone including unaccompanied children, it can contain some nudity.

Now obviously that is perfectly normal and correct as far as anyone who writes for NINR is concerned, but for the British Board of Film Classification to say something like that really surprised me. So I pressed the point, and asked for clarification. Why then if nudity wasn't seen as inherently 'adult' were all films containing nudity classified as 15 or above? What was going on?

Simply put, the BBFC explained, because no-one actually films any non-sexual nudity and puts it in otherwise low certificate films. They film it and include it, but only ever in films with otherwise mature content, and so the certificate it is assigned comes in at a 15 or higher regardless of the attitude to nudity.

I asked him for examples. Again, he was reluctant as advice like that can be considered to be pre-approval which they don't do, but he did say that lifestyle nudity, shower scenes, documentaries involving naked people, someone getting undressed to change clothes, even if it was full-frontal scene would not in itself require classification above a 'U'. But if there was any hint of sexual meaning attached to the nudity, even something so subtle as a meaningful glance from another character or 'seductive music' played over the scene then the certification level would go up.

Now to me, this makes sense. Although we may disagree on the level of sexuality that is appropriate for people of various ages (I'll be writing about that soon), they are at least classifying simple nudity as "suitable for all".

So why the hell aren't there more nude scenes in films?

There are a number of reasons for this and I'll be looking at those in future posts, but there are two main ones that kill any nude scenes before they get going....

1. The American film classification scheme is a lot less tolerant than ours. Nudity over there is seen as something almost entirely sexual, and so it automatically boosts a film's age rating. Violence, on the other hand, is seen as normal, and you can put that into any film you like (I dare you to make sense of that). Anyway, for a mainstream film to have any chance at realising a profit, it has to sell in the US as well as the UK, and so films are generally made to comply to the US market requirements.

2. Even in the UK where attitudes to nudity are generally more accepting (although not as accepting as they are on the mainland), our media is sensationalist and nasty, and any time someone releases a nude photograph or appears naked in film or on stage they spend all their time talking about the nudity and no time talking about the production. This is not what a distributor or marketing company wants for their product, so they avoid the problem by putting in less nudity.

In other words, the mechanisms for getting nudity onto the big screen are already there. Now we just have to persuade people it's a good idea.

Posted by: Graham   Permalink: link   Keywords: Art  Film  Blog  

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