Nudity no longer shocking, media needs new hook
There’s no shock value in nudity, and it’s become increasingly difficult to be outrageous or capture a massive amount public attention. Celebrities and artists can no longer leverage nudity as a shock factor and expect the same level of impact that nakedness had a decade ago. American culture has been overexposed by our mass media to the point where we are desensitized to any depiction of nudity.
Fashion designer Rick Owens sent male models down the Paris runway wearing clothes with peepholes, offering audiences a glimpse of their nether-regions.
According to CNN, Owens said the decision was a choice to shock the fashion show’s attendees. But nudity on the runway isn’t a foreign concept, as male and female models have walked the catwalk in various states of nakedness for many years.
“Women’s bodies have always been sexualized,” said pre-nursing sophomore Imani Khwatenge. “Breasts, for example, have always been sexualized, and they’re just parts of our bodies used to sustain a baby’s life. That’s the purpose of them.”
The world was exposed to more than just derrière last year. Kim Kardashian attempted to break the Internet by posing full-frontal nude on Paper Magazine for the November 2014 cover. Posing nude again earlier this year, Kim left nothing to imagination in Love Magazine’s February issue. Ironically, she previously said she thought she wouldn’t pose nude again after her W Magazine cover in 2010.
According to Billboard, Beyoncé, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga are just a few female artists to pose for risqué cover photos. Rihanna walked down the red carpet in a see-through dress at the 2014 Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards when she won the Fashion Icon award.
“Celebrities live by different societal rules. Whatever is considered outrageous or shocking for an average person is just considered ordinary to them,” said electrical engineering junior Marcos Rodriguez.
Nicki Minaj flaunted her behind on her “Anaconda” music video; Miley Cyrus posed full-frontal nude for V Magazine and shared her sultry selfies on her Instagram; films such as “Shame” and “Gone Girl” have frequently featured more male frontal nudity, and Hollywood stars like Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alexander Skarsgard and James Franco never shy away from shedding their clothes in their craft.
“Nudity usually shocks me if it was a former Disney star or someone who is currently on Disney Channel,” said communication sciences and disorders sophomore Alyssa Espinosa. “Celebrities are always trying to be ‘different’ and they grasp to nudity to get attention. But, when everyone’s stripping down, these celebrities are doing the exact same thing.”
Many agree that America returning to resemble its conservative roots seems highly unlikely. Nudity has been overexposed on billboards, music, magazines and other forms of mass media.
“I definitely see the trend of America heading towards having a more liberal attitude when it comes to the topic of nudity,” Rodriguez said. “Eventually, we’ll be more like Europe. That’s the direction we’re going in.”
Reddit, which was a notorious source to find leaked celebrity nude photos, changed its policy and will prohibit users from “posting nude photos or videos of people engaged in sex acts without their prior consent to have it posted,” according to The New York Times. Reddit is beginning to crack down on the removal of nude images on its online message boards in preparation for the future.
“To me, our bodies are just bodies. Both men and women are over sexualized and I don’t think it should have to be that way,” Khwatenge said. “It’s up to society if it will ever be unacceptable. I don’t think nudity will ever be rejected as a social taboo. Society is always trying to push the envelope.”
It seems like America is growing up to be like its European counterpart. With nudity as an accepted social norm, we can only expect to see more of it as the shock value steadily declines in the next few years.
American pop culture is beginning to feel saturated with nudity, and when it becomes incredibly difficult work to be outrageous, celebrities are going to have to turn to other methods of shocking the public. Perhaps the next trend in the art of shocking Americans will be displays of conservativeness.
Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations senior and may be reached at [email protected]