Podcast #24: Pop Culture's Startling Lack of Restraint – Sexuality and Nudity

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If there’s one thing that most of us can agree on, it’s that popular culture has gone too far in the area of sexuality. For the sake of freedom of speech, showing off beauty, and putting to use “what God gave ya’”, men and women have bared it all. And we all know what this is really all about.

So where do we draw the line? How far should they go, and how much of it can we take? If you thought the last episode was awkward, wait until you hear Rich and Ben attempting to discuss Pop Culture’s Startling Lack of Restraint: Sexuality and Nudity.

Also, we offer up our Top 3 Best Love Stories and our Top 3 Worst Love Stories.

We love feedback. If you’d like to respond you can comment on the website, send an email to christandpopculture@gmail.com or best yet you can leave a voice-mail at 206-888-2471. We would love to respond to feedback on the show, so do it now!

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The music in this episode is by SoberMinded and awesome rap duo featuring our own writer and co-founder, Alan Noble. Check them out!

About CAPC Writers
  • Richard Clark

    I should point out that I have been swayed a bit by a point made on this podcast which I just happened to listen to shortly after we recorded this.

    I don’t have the quote exactly, but to paraphrase, she was saying that she didn’t know what so many find film violence worse than film sexuality and nudity. And this is what she said that really impacted me: Every time violence is shown in film, it’s fake. But sexuality and nudity is pretty much always real in some sense. Someone is actually baring themselves, doing inappropriate things with their bodies. It’s a simple but inescapable argument.

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    Yipes! One note: I want to change my number 1 love story. “When A Man Loves A Woman,” is the best love story I’ve seen. By far. Faithfulness in the face of extreme struggles is a beautiful picture of what love really is.

    Ben Bartlett’s last blog post..Improv Everywhere Does It Again! Baseball

  • Richard Clark

    Cheating!

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    You’re probably right, Rich. Sorry. That’s what I get for making the list half an hour before coming to do the show.

    Ben Bartlett’s last blog post..Improv Everywhere Does It Again! Baseball

  • Richard Clark

    Join the club.

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Alright, so let’s see, where to begin? How ’bout we start with a little something called…

    ITEM!!
    I don’t think I’ve ever walked out of a film, but if I had, it would have happened during either The English Patient or As Good as It Gets simply because both films were, well, built, fashioned, and crafted out of crap. And when I say crap, I mean poop. Oh yeah, and they were incredibly dull.

    Different people approach the things they see differently (as you established in previous podcasts) and I just can’t compel myself to be affected by immorality in cinema. I think that when I was fifteen, seeing boobs in a movie would have been awesome, but now, seeing sexuality portrayed in film rolls off my back like seeing lying, violence, blasphemy, irreverence, and death, and hearing crass language. It just doesn’t really do anything to me.

    If the movie is well done, I’ll laud it. If not, I’ll pan it. That’s where it begins and ends for me.

    With this in mind, it should be easy to see why I’ll go see a movie like Lust, Caution or There Will Be Blood despite their ratings if they look like they’re worth the time.
    ________________________

    ITEM!!
    It seems a bit presumptive to say (as Ben does) that there is no reason for nudity in film. I’ll grant that much of the use of nudity and sexuality is meant to titillate and earn money, but that doesn’t rule out the use of nudity or sexuality to convey valuable themes or story elements. An example mentioned later in the cast is Schindler’s List. For the most part, the nudity portrayed in the film goes a long way to solidify the film’s themes. These images are not titillating. The are not gratuitous. They are, however, invasive and uncomfortable—and because of that, elevate the film beyond where it could go without such scenes.

    Another example is a book I’m currently reading by Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It contains a few instances of pretty graphic sexual descriptions, but each is essential to the story. I can’t imagine the story without these, in fact—the whole tenor would be changed.

    As a final, much more personal example, the book I’m currently working on has several scenes depicting either sex or nudity. My book is a medium-length graphic novel (300 pages) that deals with questions of epistemology and cultural influence. It’s a serious work and in the market I propose to sell it, sex and nudity can only harm potential sales. So, I’m including these scenes because they are necessary to the story I’m telling and the ideas I’m exploring. I intend to use these scenes for good cause, building up the book and its themes and characterizations. Now while it certainly won’t be a book for everyone and while some might not appreciate the direction I choose to take things, there is definitely a reason that I am going to take things in the direction I’m taking things.
    ________________________

    ITEM!!
    My Top 5 Effective Uses of Nudity in Film
    (understand that this list is off the top of my head)
    Schindler’s List – played for upping the human ante.
    Amelie (the pregnancy scene) – played for comedic human value.
    Red Beard (horrific operating table scene) – played for demonstrating the horror of 19th century medicine for doctor and patient alike.
    • This Australian movie I saw way back when with this redhead self-performing an abortion in a bathtub. Harrowing.
    … This next one shouldn’t be on the list, but my memory is getting hazy, so…
    Ride with the Devil (Jewel breastfeeding) – played for the tenderness and embarrassment of the scene. Great character development.
    ________________________

    ITEM!!
    My Top 3 Favourite Love Stories on Film
    • The Before Sunrise/Sunset pair. Firmly establishes characters in an utterly romantic state, showing how abiding love can be met over the course of a single night, then revisits them and shows just how difficult obsession with love and True Love can be, destroying lives and giving birth to new ones. Maybe one of the best love stories ever—though Christians tend to dislike it on moral grounds.

    p.s. Before Sunset proves Rich’s point about Hardback Mountain wrong by presenting a thoroughly realistic situation between an obsessed man and woman, committing it to film, and having it be viewed as a great film by audiences all over.

    Snow Falling on Cedars. Another film about obsessive love and the damage it can do to a life vs. the strength it takes to overcome obsession.

    Whisper of the Heart. Ben won’t like it because he hates young people. And love. But he doesn’t have all the answers so I’ll still root for this one ’til the day i stop believing in love.

    By the way, The Road Home is incredibly sweet and almost made this list. It made my Top 50 Chick Flicks list a while back. Beauty and the Beast was also rad. So was Princess Bride, but only as a comedy, not as a love story. p.s. Rich, that Buttercup is incarnational thing was maybe the lamest thing I’ve heard in 2008,* so congrats.

    *please note that I’ve been speaking with Mormons on Monday nights so your competition here is pretty intense.
    ________________________

    ITEM!!
    I like the music, but seriously, having it fade in over the dialogue doesn’t work. It just makes you think that somethings wrong and that zombies are going to take Ben’s brain or something. And you know how he hates being startled. I’d cut the easy intro to the music and just have it slam your cut instead.

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    p.s. Hardback/Brokeback… is there really a difference?

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    Dane,

    This is probably my favorite e-mail of yours to date. The, “ITEM!” structure is a bit weird, but it lets you say more things per post so I suppose that’s helpful.

    In regards to your comment on some nudity being ok, I think you’re right. When I went back and listened to the podcast it sounds as though I’m saying there is never a reason for nudity, but I agree that the Schindler’s List example (and, hypothetically, the other examples though I haven’t seen them) can be helpful parts of the story.

    I do think that when the nudity is primarily to show off the details of an attractive body, it’s more than needed. But that said, your comment is right on.

    Also, thanks for recommending Snow Falling on Cedars. I’ve been wanting to see it, so I’m glad to hear it’s good.

    And you’re definitely right about the music! It sounds like those darn supercharged CGI zombies from I Am Legend are going to pop out any second with their hairless dogs.

    Ben Bartlett’s last blog post..Improv Everywhere Does It Again! Baseball

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Thanks Ben. It is a kinda strange structure, huh. It makes me feel all newsie.

    I should probably reiterate on my first point too that while I feel at liberty to see things like Lust, Caution and 300 without fear of damage to my conscience, I would never recommend the films to those who are not of like conscience. I full-well realize that, like Rich said, seeing a film with any nudity at all on a given day can just flat-out ruin someone’s state of mind if they are of that kind of mindset.

  • Alan Noble

    Now I know what the Dane sounds like.

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    If you wanna know what I look AND sound like, may I recommend this fine collection of short documentaries? They are almost real.

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Hey, I want to change one of my Top 3 Love Stories to Cinema Paradiso. Maybe knock Whisper of the Heart out of there. Yay.

  • Alan Noble

    My Top Love Story would be Rushmore.

  • David

    I appreciate your willingness to admit this is an issue of conscience. I am so tired of hearing people say every movie with nudity is bad, wrong, and un-fit for Christian viewing. Also, thanks for pointing out, however, that sexuality is an issue that can easily lead to sin and we all must be cautious!

    A movie I walked out on was “The General’s Daughter” expressly because of its nudity.

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    @David – I don’t know if that counts as nudity since the naked dead body that sat there for half the movie was a prop. I forget, was there any other nudity beside she of the rotting corpse?

  • David

    they do find those sex tapes in the dead girl’s secret dungeon…and they do re-cap the rape scene with extreme intensity. I must confess that even though I walked out on it, later on I did watch it.

  • David

    Rich,

    can you explain why you must such a point to divorce sexuality and romance? I am not sure that “break” and rather pointed discussion of it being a “break” was necessary. It would have been better to discuss the bridge between sex and romance and how they “should” go together.

  • David

    Ben,
    “Ever After” is absolutely a complete destruction of the Cinderella story! thank you!!!! All Women Must Hear This and Stop Making Men Watch This Awful Film!

    Rich,
    Just to update you if you don’t know: Zach and Kelly did get married in a post “College Years” special!

  • David

    Rich,

    I’ve wanted to ask you this question for a long time. YOu’ve brought this up with Harry Potter and other films, and now your bashing Romeo and Juliet on this basis. Do you really think that the fact that “kids disobey their parents” in a film/book makes it bad?

  • Alan Noble

    David,

    I think (or hope) Rich wasn’t bashing Romeo and Juliet, but pointing out that it is not really the “romance” our culture makes it out to be. If anything, it shows the tragedy of hormone-driven teen infatuations. It’s still a wonderful play, but just not a great romance. Although, I think it could be argued that it is a great romance precisely because it does show the triviality and danger of shallow romance.

    Another work that approaches romance in a similar way is Ethan Frome.

  • Richard Clark

    Alan, you’re basically right. It’s an example of how not to fall in love.

    David, I’m gunna have to address that last question on a future show. Too much to say, though I desperately want to say it now. The short answer is “No.”

    As far as the “break”, that was a pretty spur of the moment clarification that I hadn’t really thought through. I think that comes through on the podcast.

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    @David – I didn’t remember the sex dungeon. It was a pretty forgettable film.

    @All – Hm, I didn’t actually mind Ever After. But then I don’t mind capable females either.

    I don’t know what the big deal is with R+J either. The romance there is certainly of a more genuine type than we’re used to. At least its got staying power and no small level of commitment.

    Typically this is the scene we see.
    ________________________

    Romeo walks in and sees Juliet for the first time.

    “Oh baby. You’re so hot.”

    “Le gasp. Really?”

    “Oh yeah. For sure.”

    “Le swoon.”

    Bow-CHICKA-bow-bown.

    “Oh Romeo. Now that I’ve been properly divested of my ‘flower,’ you wanna hang out? Or something.”

    “Nah. Laters.”

    “Call me…?”

    “Tch. Whatever.”

    New scene. Romeo walks in and sees Shauna for the first time… Et cetera.

  • Alan Noble

    “Bow-CHICKA-bow-bown”

    So true.

  • http://www.benbartlett.blogspot.com Ben Bartlett

    The problem with Ever After isn’t that the girl is capable. My wife is capable!

    The annoying thing was that the prince had zero qualities worth loving. He wasn’t intelligent or reflective, he didn’t stand by her, he couldn’t do much of anything for her… basically all he had going to deserve her love was that, well, he was the prince. That’s pretty dumb to me.

    Ben Bartlett’s last blog post..Healthy Interaction About Obama

  • http://nowheresville.us The Dane

    Heh, welcome to the last 600 centuries give-or-take. Wealth is worth pursuing and marrying. Maybe she saw in him a diamond in the rough?

    Actually, I can’t really remember the movie so well (though I’ve seen it more than twice). But I don’t remember having any adverse feelings toward it at all. I suppose I should watch it again.


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