Tuesday, September 26, 2006

"Naked hair brushing, good; naked crouching, bad"

You might recognize that line from the famous Seinfeld episode "The Apology," which introduced the world to the concept of "good" naked and "bad" naked. Unfortunately, there are some wacky people in Texas who still can't grasp the distinction:

Teacher: reprisals began after field trip

FRISCO – A veteran Frisco art teacher says school administrators have retaliated against her because a student reportedly saw a nude sculpture during a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.

District officials say they are supporting a principal who reprimanded Sydney McGee over the field trip and other performance issues.


Oh boy. The anti-porn types and morality crusaders have largely succeeded in smearing over the line that existed between "nudity" and "pornography;" in the public's mind, there is little or no difference. The naked human body, far from representing our simplest biological form, has been co-opted and converted exclusively into a sex object. Viewed from this perspective, it makes sense that some idiots get hysterical over something as natural and innocuous as a nude sculpture.

This weird phenomenon is not new. In 2002, John Ashcroft famously covered up the bare breasted sculpture "Spirit of Justice" in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice -- no small irony there. And before that, there was Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn making an ass of himself by protesting NBC's uncensored broadcast of "Schindler's List," in part because of the full frontal nudity -- a move so asinine that it elicited a rare moment of clarity and reason from Alfonse D'Amato, of all people.

Forget for a moment that we're not even talking about an actual nude human. The kid saw a nude sculpture -- a representation of a nude human. It is disturbing that this would bother anyone, yes, but the greater issue here is the primitive and unhealthy ways in which elements of this culture view nudity.

Roger Ebert famously says that a film should not be judged by its subject matter, but by how it deals with it. Applied here, this sensible view means that the nude human form (as sculpture or otherwise) is not intrinsically sexual -- unless that's the projection and association imposed upon it by the viewer.

Sexuality may imply nudity but the converse is not necessarily true. Context is everything. A naked woman posing suggestively on a bed has sexual connotations; a naked woman straining to open a jar of pickles...not so much. Showing fifth graders the Kama Sutra is inappropriate; showing them Michelangelo's David is not. See the differences?

It should be obvious and yet the distinction is lost on many people. It wouldn't matter so much except that a woman has apparently lost her job because of this shortsightedness. The Philistines are still among us and they are still making headlines.

[thanks to reddit for the link]

1 comment:

Pabs said...

And yet Screech is free to Dirty Sanchez his way into internet infamy.
/shudders
//repeatedly