Over the weekend I read quite a few articles about a reporter who *gasp* had the nerve to ask Lena Dunham about the nudity on her HBO series Girls. Here’s a quick synopsis of what happened.
At the Television Critics Association winter press tour, TV critic Tim Molloy kicked off a panel discussion with the cast and producers of Girls by asking about the nudity in the show.
The exchange started innocently enough with Molloy asking “I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show. By you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you say no one complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason.”
The conversation quickly went south from there. Dunham responded that being nude is a natural occurrence, stating that “it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive.” Fair enough. People do spend a significant amount of time being nude. However, the situation escalated when Dunham went on to state that if Molloy wasn’t into her than it was his problem and that he needs to seek professional help to help him overcome the issue.
It got worse. Producer Judd Apatow accused Molloy of being sexist, offensive, and misogynistic. Fellow executive producer Jenni Konner wondered how he could “talk to a women that way” and even accused Molloy’s girlfriend of being a misogynist.
What? All this backlash because a TV critic was doing his job and asking about something he wanted clarity on? What am I missing here?
He singled out Dunham for being nude! Yes and no. The character Dunham plays on the show is the main protagonist so it’s a given she gets more screen time. During a lot of her screen time Dunham is exposing herself and sometimes without reason or in a realistic sense. The question was not of Dunham’s character specifically, but that blanket wise, there’s seem to be a lot of needless nudity on the show.
Why is he offended by Dunham’s nudity and not the nudity on Game of Thrones! Some people took Molloy’s question as a jab at Dunham’s body type. She’s not a size two with large breasts which we are accustomed to seeing in film and television. However, the question wasn’t really aimed at her body type. It was aimed at the random nudity (like sitting naked on a toilet eating a whole cake). Molloy called the nudity in Game of Thrones salacious (which doesn’t have any positive connotations), but purposeful. All he was trying to do was get better clarity on the purpose of some of the nudity in Girls.
If Dunham were skinny this wouldn’t be an issue! Maybe, maybe not. But you have to wonder about the validity and realness of playing ping-pong topless or wearing a mesh top with no bra or your friend stripping down and taking a bath with you when her marriage dissolves.
The real issue here is that there are several catch 22’s when it comes to nudity, particularly in the entertainment industry. If a woman is willing to bare herself to her audience she’s a victim of oversexualization of women in the media. She’s a pawn in the game of sex selling. A toy for an industry ruled by men. And of course if she revels in it or enjoys it, she’s just a slutty exhibitionist. Go figure.
Most of the women who do get naked on camera are portrayed as skinny and pretty. Seldom do you see a full-figured, “average looking” woman baring it all. Again, that’s because the mainstream media has brainwashed men and women into believing a false and unrealistic standard of beauty. In most people’s eyes. a full-figured woman naked on television isn’t titillating. If a full-figured nude woman is on their TV screen it better be for comedic purposes. If not it’s gross, weird or uncomfortable.
Dunham and obviously Apatow and Konner, view the nudity of herself and her cast mates as pushing the envelope and challenging standards of beauty. And that’s great! It’s an ambitious goal. After all being nude is a common phenomenon. However, when you’re just stripping down for the sake of being nude, all this grand ideology is thrown out the window. People stop caring. They stop paying attention. And they start to question its validity.
I believe that is what happened when Molloy questioned the purpose of Dunham constantly baring it all on camera.
What are your thoughts about the nudity on Girls, Molloy, or nudity on TV in general? Share them in a comment below.