Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bigger than a baby's arm and yet, nowhere to be seen.

There isn't a lot of full frontal male nudity around in mainstream movies is there?

The point was hammered home yesterday when I went to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall at the cinema. Yes, yes fine I realise it's not exactly high quality cinema but then again I don't have a stick up my arse about only watching movies that win at Sundance. Anyway, within the first 20 minutes or so there is a rather unassuming and flaccid CINEMASCOPE SIZED PENIS displayed for all to see. Hellooooooo sailor!

Perhaps the copious amounts of xxx porn I consume (What? Who said that?) has desensitized me to all penises -big and small- but I wasn't all that shocked to see it hanging there. In context, sure I realised that you don't usually pay your $15 bucks for penis and popcorn but overall it was pretty underwhelming. This view was not shared by the woman and man sitting behind me who clucked their tongues and she even said "oh my god, can you believe this?" and he replied with another disapproving click of the tongue.

Okay there are a couple of things going on here:

Firstly - Surely "from the makers of Knocked Up and 40 Year old Virgin" highlighted on the poster should have been a big giveaway that this wasn't going to be a deMille classic.

Secondly - I bet if a couple of enormous, plastic surgeried (made up word), blemish/scar free, perfectly airbrushed chesticles with nipples so erect that they could poke a man blind were presented on an actress of anorexic proportions who sported a bush that was expertly waxed to show a "landing strip" and little else then noone but the bible bashers from friggin Alabama would complain. Am I right? Ohhhh, but put a penis on screen for literally one second and everyone is clucking their tongues disapprovingly.

The hypocrisy kills me. I grew up seeing more boobs and bush on television than I saw green veggies on my dinner plate - penises simply don't get a gong on the tele. Why is it okay for the mainstream camera to linger on a naked woman's body like she's being stalked but a penis is rarely if ever shown in any context other than comedy or in a blink and you'll miss it sequence? Pretty much every building in the world is a homage to the brilliant architecture of the penis and every war that has ever been fought is a testament to the mighty power of those dick(head)s, every hotted up red sports car a metaphor for a man who wishes he had one and pretty much every man drunk off his man boobs figures he has the supreme privilege to flash it to anyone who has eyes - and yet penis on screen - oh no, we've gone too far now.

I can think of one type of cinema where lingering shots of the penis are displayed in their glory. Gay cinema. Maybe there's something in that. If gay cinema has the market on the penis then does that mean that mainstream cinema is hetero-sexist?

Is a penis really more offensive than a vulva? Or... Is it too sacred to be displayed in a manner where we can purchase it easily and without embarrassment on DVD like we can with the female body (take your pick of movie, there's millions)? Or can we boil all this down to rampant homophobia on the part of the consumers and studio system alike, thus: a fear of men watching other men's penises in a darkened cinema will turn all straight men gay?

What is it about the penis?

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