We touched on the idea that even the straight entertainment industry uses sexuality for mass appeal, too. Some of you didn’t agree that making sexually explicit videos and pictures is exploitation. You felt that if one consents to act or to pose and feels no shame, that it’s basic capitalism, a free market.
What’s it to you anyway, TherapyDoc?
Hey, some people take off their clothes (to make money), so that other people can buy pornography (to feel sexy), so that others (the producers/photographers) can make even more money. It's a free market.
Therapists will get their money somewhere down the line. In our puritanical velt (the religious right won the election for George Bush, remember), nudity raises all kinds of issues, creates intrapsychic and relational conflict. It is the subject in churches and synagogues the world over. So sure, let's take it on. You know I like religious psycho-conflict.
First of all, there certainly is a difference between the two art forms, the blue and the not-so-blue (R-rated) films. It's the difference between pornography and erotica. Both can make a girl blush.
For example, I recently saw Paul Verhoeven's Black Book on video, starring Carise Van Hooten and Sebastian Koch (in the pic at the top) two unbelievably hot actors. Black Book is a sultry, violent film about murder for jewels and money in Holland, 1944.
A lawyer finds Jewish families safe houses and holds their life savings for them for safe-keeping until a time when the war will end. He also arranges their escape over enemy lines into Allied territory when the Gestapo gets too close or if an Allied bomber destroys a hiding place. Relocation is risk at a price. A rescue mission sours, money and jewels get into the wrong hands. Oh, I will NOT tell you the story, it’s too good.
So there I am, on the family room sofa with my feet up, watching Black Book and eating popcorn (made with oil, yes, but no butter) and the movie features much violence and as much or more nudity (along with fantastic direction and performances). I watched for the social and entertainment value (ya’ gotta’ believe me), I wasn't on the tread mill, and I saw a lot of skin. I don’t recommend this to anyone under-age, and certainly not to anyone who is upset seeing naked women or seeing men leering and fondling naked women.
You might ask, how can one lash back on nudity and sexploitation if she watches a movie that features really hot actors with very little on? And let's not forget. I paid to see that film. No free Blockbusters coupons here.
Hypocritical? You bet. (This is along the lines of wasting time, FD, I HAVE to watch this show so I'll know what my patients are talking about). But I'll excuse Black Book as art. It belongs to the genre of erotica, not pornography. And although I'm not personally an erotica fan, at least the film has redeeming social value. Pornography has none.
Wikipedia backs me up with the following distinction:
In general, "erotica" refers to portrayals of sexually arousing material that hold or aspire to artistic, scientific or human merit, whereas "pornography" often connotes the commercial, prurient, morally valueless depiction of sexual acts, with little or no artistic value.
Nude implies lovely, the human body most beautiful unfettered by clothing. We're works of art, something to be aesthetically admired, in our birthday suits. Naked implies that one should be embarrassed and ashamed, prancing about without clothing. Naked is judgmental, a harsh word.
I would add yet a third category, an umbrella category that says it all, undressed. Meaning, call it what you will, the undressed body turns some people on, sometimes at their own psychological expense, sometimes at the expense of others who didn't necessarily want to click on it or regret clicking on it later.
Let's look at the effect of modeling for erotica specifically, not for pornography even. What if a person models nude for a painting clearly intended to be a work of art. The painting graces the wall of someone else's dining room, the buyer. The model can’t legally take the painting off the wall should (s)he come to regret the job, unless the diner wants to sell it or give it back. It's a Hey, get out of my house! Sounds like a good movie screenplay to me. Someone get on it.
We’re talking about the idea that an act once consensual can become a problem, the same psychological dynamic I wrote about when I posted on being insane at college (Sept 2, 2006). Acting out as a college student can come back to haunt us as adults. Does this mean a kid should never act out?
Yes, but it’s not even a question. Not all kids have the presence of mind to filter, sift through consequesnces or believe in future harm. As adolescents and young adults, we feel omnipotent, deep into developing unique identities, working out the angst of childhood and family issues, trying on new hats.
Bottom line, we learn to live with our mistakes. It’s what makes us older and wiser, and as I’ve said before, owning our mistakes makes us more real to our children.
But owning that photo on the Internet?
Now we’re talking issues. Those photos have lives of their own, they multiply like cells.
Take another, seemingly innocuous situation. A couple makes home videos. They make their own movies, capture themselves undressed. It's easy. Technologically we live in photo-video heaven, own digital cameras, camcorders, cell phones. The film now stars, You.
But my gut makes me wonder, when I hear about this, is the art truly a product of mutual consent? Really? Or has there been a strong element of coercion on by one partner, the one who has more confidence, more emotional power over the other.
If and when one of them feels guilty and wants to stop the cameras, what happens then?
I've seen this in my practice. A guy films his love-making with his partner/spouse/fiancé. They break up. Somehow the film is all over the Internet. The partner/spouse/fiancé finds out about it. Someone is suing someone, exposing someone, calling bosses, friends; there's considerable blackmail and revenge.
It does sound criminal, doesn't it, such an invasion of privacy? It makes for real psychological damage—regret, shame, suicidal, even homicidal thoughts and gestures. The kind of feelings that never make anyone feel good.
Guilt, shame, embarrassment, panic, anxiety, depression, violent thoughts, post-or acute-traumatic stress disorders, that's the territory we're in.
That's what it is to me, in answer to the question, What is it to you, TherapyDoc?
These are the emotions we work through with patients who regret their decision to say, “Cheese.”
And you're right, you're right, it is often a person's history that drives him or her to posing for the picture, to star in the movie. The desperation comes first, perhaps, the low self-esteem. It is usually not posing that makes one vulnerable, initially. The need and vulnerability can come first.
But posing naked surely couldn't help.
copyright 2007, therapydoc