Perhaps it’s just a prurient interest on our part that has led us to notice, but there seems to be an awful lot of nudity in the news lately. None of it is nearly so significant as all that economics and foreign affairs and the rest of the world’s crises, but it makes for an interesting diversion.
Most of the headlines have been about that anonymous computer hacker who somehow got hold of a large cache of naked pictures of prominent movie actresses and put them out on the internet, but we’ve paid only scant attention. We don’t keep abreast of the contemporary cinema, so to speak, and it’s hard to work up any voyeuristic interest in people we’ve never heard. There’s been quite a bit of feminist outrage generated, what with the invasion of women’s privacy and the objectification of their bodies and all that, but we’re also finding it hard to work up any indignation. So many people have an all-too-natural curiosity about the people who move around in such meticulously objectified bodies that whenever we type the name of almost any movie star into our favorite search engine a window pops up with suggested searches that always include “nude.” It pops up even with the antique movie stars from the black-and-white that we’re most likely to be investigating, and so far as we can tell nude pictures of screen sirens go back all the way to the beginning of motion pictures. Back in our more avid movie-going days in the ’70s almost all the flicks would throw in at least one nude scene, probably on the longstanding Hollywood theory that you have to give the audiences something they couldn’t see on television, but now that you can get bare bodies on the boob tube, so to speak, it’s all computer generated images and shoot-’em-ups, and it doesn’t represent an improvement. We feel a bit badly for the women who had their nude pictures taken with the assurance they would remain private, and worry if anything can remain private these days, but can’t help wondering what they did intend.
Another story at Cosmopolitan, which we assume is a reliable source for this sort information, suggests that posing for naked pictures is a surprisingly popular pastime these days even for people who aren’t movie stars. The famously risqué women’s magazine took a survey of “millennial women” and found that a whopping nine out of 10 had been photographed nude and that only 14 percent regretted it while 82 percent said they would do it again. The survey doesn’t delve into motives, leaving us to speculate why so many young women want their nudity photographed. For the benefit of boyfriends, perhaps, but modern relationships being so fleeting it hard’s to imagine that there wouldn’t be more widespread regrets if that were case. We suspect that the narcissism that is also so common of the younger generation is a more likely explanation.
Oddly enough, this widespread naked photography seems to be breaking out at the same time jurisdictions around the world are banishing public nudity. According to the New York Post even the famously free-minded French Riviera has ceased the topless sunbathing that formerly did so much for France’s tourism industry. Apparently the practice hasn’t been officially banned but merely become passé, in part because of the ubiquity of cell phone cameras and the potential that the bared breasts will turn up on that darned internet. The article lists several other exotic locations that have recently banned public nudity, including Hainan Beach in China, Machu Picchu in Peru, and Barcelona in Spain, all before we even realized there were naked people there. In most cases it’s because the locals have grown weary of naked tourists, who probably aren’t walking around unclothed in their own home towns, and it seems a reasonable request.
Getting far less attention is a minor nudity problem just up the turnpike Topeka. The city had apparently never gotten around to passing a law requiring clothing in public, which is the sort of thing a city really shouldn’t have to pass a law about, and until recently Topekans had always extended this courtesy to one another without legal coercion, but apparently one fellow has recently taken to nude strolls around the town. We’re not sure why, although the weather here in Kansas has been just beautiful lately, and it might well be the economy, or maybe global warming, but in any case he’s forced the city council take up the issue. Even in such a staid town as Topeka, it seems, the modern tendency to bare it all has become sadly literal.
— Bud Norman