Mickey Rourke famously said that there is no man who wouldn’t rather watch a woman stripping on stage than a theatre play. If there is truth to that, then it might well be that movies were invented in order to fuse theatre and stripping. So that men can go to the theatre and still get their tickets’ worth.
Americans like to censor everything which is not a tamed depiction of the sexual act. And because they are prudish, sex is always portrayed as a clean, civilised thing. Something people do after they’ve been introduced to each other, or evil has been put to rest, or a car-crash.
In French films people go through a lot of talk before they have sex, as opposed to German films where they talk afterwards. In Italian cinema food definitely takes the place of sex, simply because the characters know that pasta carbonara is bound to be satisfying, while with sex you never know. Wong-Kar-Wai’s characters prefer to have sex with absent people. In Russian films the characters often confuse violence with sex, or take it to be the same, which is why one of the lovers always ends up alone.
But wait, there is the famous love-making scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now. Departing from the norm, this is a married couple doing it. How often do we see sex between married people in films? Therefore the average viewer must think that married people and people over the age of 28 don’t have sex. And if it doesn’t happen in film then it surely never happens in real life.
Films from the 30ies, 40ies and 50ies brittle with sexual tension and the mysterious forces between people. Because sexual acts, including kissing,couldn’t be shown, so symbolic imagery and double-entendres had to take its place. Nowadays we can have whatever we want on film and the truth is there is nothing exciting in seeing two actors pretend (or not pretending) to have sex with each other. It’s boring and, more often than not, gratuitous.
But the point I’m really trying to make is this: There aren’t many nonpornographic films that give us naked men in all their splendour, probably because the directors happen to be mostly male. I remember Jude Law’s yummy bum in The Talented Mr. Ripley, but that rare sight was only meant to show the homoerotic tension between Ripley and Jude Law’s character. In 21 Grams, even though the love scene between Naomi Watts and Sean Penn doesn’t add anything to the story, Penn still looked gorgeous naked. So why don’t we get more of this? If there has to be nudity than I want more naked men! At least then female viewers can indulge in voyeurism, too.