A leaked photo of Vampire Eric on True Blood.
If we are to believe the moral watchdogs, society is in the latter stages of gross moral decay. Everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded with it - too much sex, too many tits, too few standards and far too little clothing. Why, you can barely turn the television on these days without being slapped in the face by a giant pair of norgs. Boob tube is right. It’s a sea of chest pillows out there, an ocean of hushpuppies, a Davy Jones’ Locker of Perky Knockers.
Well Mrs Lovejoy, I put it to you that there isn’t ENOUGH nudity in our cultural landscape. Oh sure, you can cop a baker’s dozen of funbuns just walking down the street. But let’s be honest, if you’ve seen one pair you’ve seen them all. If you’ve ever caught even a single episode of Geordie Shore, you’ll agree that breasts hold no mystery whatsoever anymore. Game of Thrones? More like Game of Cones. But when it comes to visual saturation of the human form, there’s one thing distinctly missing from all our landscapes.
Ladies and gentlemen, I put it to you that there we’re not seeing enough dongs.
It’s true. Outside of The Footy Show and Sunrise, vigilant as they are in presenting a variety of different knobs to the viewer, we are given very few opportunities to feast our eyes on the handsome codpieces hiding beneath the trousers of our favourite television characters. I almost fainted when I saw photographs of Alexander Skarsgard's full frontal shots in this week's season finale of True Blood, so rarely are we treated to the visual smorgasbord of a well stocked meat platter. The folks over at College Humor have put together a piece to that effect, featuring a number of ladies lamenting (as I do) the lack of proud penises in HBO’s catalogue.
As they say, even in a show whose central conceit was that its male sex worker protagonist had a massive schlong - so massive, in fact, that its title was simply ‘Hung’ - viewers were cruelly denied a glimpse. Other HBO outings like The Sopranos, Deadwood and even Sex and the City have all been top heavy, as if trying to maintain the illusion that male basements more closely resemble a Ken Doll’s plastic fused underpants than anything as malleable and delightful as a doodle.
Of course, College Humor is a satirical website. But there’s truth to the observation that we are overwhelmingly exposed to naked female flesh while denied access to the male form, and not just in relation to material on HBO. There are a couple of probable reasons for this, not least of which is that penises are subject to censorship based on the degree of their enthusiasm. And when I say degree, I mean literally. In 1992, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) adopted an unofficial guide known as the ‘Mull of Kintyre’ test, subjecting it to scrutiny of the ‘angle of the dangle’. The BBFC would deny general release to a film if it “depicted a phallus erect to the point that the angle it made from the vertical was larger than that of the Mull of Kintyre, Argyll and Bute on maps of Scotland.”
A few years ago, PhD student Alicia Izharuddin (who blogs under the name Angry Malay Woman) wrote this post about censorship, the gaze and sexual insecurity. She observes:
“There are clearly double standards in the practice of objectification of bodies. Female nudity – full frontal or partial – has long been a tool to beautify and sex-up commodities, homes and gardens, film narratives, calendars, book covers, just about everything that it has become banal. The banalisation of women’s naked bodies makes the images of naked breasts on British TV after 9 pm no big deal, because female breasts are not considered pornographic. Erect penises, however, are. The censored video of Girls’ ‘Lust for Life’ on the American MTV channel is a case in point. The original video, termed the “hardcore XXX gay porn” version, depicts the singer singing into another man’s penis and naked women frolicking about. In the edited, “clean” version, the offending penis went out while the breasts stayed.”
So immune is wider society to breasts (or perhaps so entitled to them) that arguments like these invariably end up comparing their proliferation to that of bare male chests. It’s a strange kind of irony that sees some people defend objectified naked breasts as essentially non-sexual while balking at those employed in the purpose of feeding children because ‘no one needs to see that’.
Indeed, it’s the ‘no one’ that also bothers me in regards to censorship and sexuality. Too often, we hear that ‘no one’ wants to see men naked, men kissing, men objectified and cast as the subject of a scrutinising gaze. But who dictates this ‘no one’, other than an assumed heteronormative, patriarchal code? Because that last time I checked, seeing men in varying states of undress had the potential to increase my body temperature - particularly if they were in varying states of undress with each other. And I know plenty of other women and men (even straight ones) who feel the same way.
So bring on the parade of wangs, willies and woodies! I’m fond of a wand and I’m not ashamed to say it. HBO, take note - next season, I want your Games to have more Bones, less Cones. It’s what the women of Westeros would want.