How many different ways can we say this? Movies need to explore all ’50 Shades’ of groin.
I’m here to talk about penises. I feel better now that it’s out there. I’m a little nervous because this is such a big subject. But, let’s dive in. We don’t see enough penises on the big screen and I’m here to advocate for what I’m calling Operation Stiff Resolve. Primary mission objective? Penis parity.
The 50 Shades movies have an opportunity to move the ball forward in what we view as too salacious for movies. The job isn’t their’s alone, of course, but they have one none-the-less. What do I mean? The 50 Shades trilogy seems on track to be the most successful mainstream movies to feature BDSM without pushing the envelope on the presence of penis. I would like to see them capitalize on this opportunity in much the same way The Simpsons worked to change what we can expect out of animated, prime-time entertainment. Family Guy doesn’t happen without The Simpsons. You know?
Okay. that’s a lot. Let me explain what I mean.
In cinema today, we’ve got the Great Comedic Anaconda, the Great Artsy Salami and the occasional Great Horror Peen. The trouser snake on a limo window scene in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is one of the best comedic meat popsicle moments in ages. In Captain Fantastic, Ben Cash, completely nude and casually leaning on an RV door, gloriously points out the hole in the logic of your shock: the dingus is a common male attribute. And there were a couple of truly bonkers horror transformations in recent years that for some insane and terrific reason began at the pecker. I’m thinking of I Survived A Zombie Holocaust and WolfCop.
I’ve long been an advocate for an increased member presence in cinema. You might have caught my mention of it in my contribution to our staff picks for the best films of 2016. I called out, amongst others, A Bigger Splash and Chevalier for having some terrific tally-wacker moments. I know it may come across as a goof, but my sincerity for the subject runs deeply genuine. My intent here isn’t to make an archival list of the great schwartz scenes in movies. I’m not arguing they don’t exist, only that they need to be more common.
We’ve got Funny Wang, Artsy Schlong and Scary All Beef Thermometer, why not just some penises?
So, what’s the first pork sword you saw on the big screen? Mine, I think, was Officer Rodney Farva’s in Super Troopers. You know what I love about that moment? It happens naturally. The Spurbury Police are abusing their authority by stripping Farva and “treating him for lice”. Well, they treat him for lice by spraying him with water and coating him with powdered sugar. But, here’s the magic of this scene. They don’t obscure the pickle or change their framing approach to hide it. They allow the schwantz to just show up in the frame. He’s naked. Why wouldn’t it? It’s there.
I remember once having a conversation with a native Spanish speaker about swear words. He asked me what I already knew of Spanish swears and I confessed not very much more than basics. One of the words I threw into the mix was culo, which I took to mean “ass” in English. His reply to that one was to shrug his shoulders and say “Es un parte del cuerpo”. Or, it’s a part of the body. His point was that I had misread the cultural context of that word and in using it I might as well be saying “This food tastes like bottoms.” This conversation was maybe fifteen years ago now. He certainly didn’t mean to drop a philosophical bomb into my mind grapes. And that may not even be how every Spanish speaker sees the word. But, it’s one of the few conversations I’ve remembered for the long haul that have shaped my approach to the world. Especially, in this case, my understanding of vulgarity. Some things may seem salacious or vulgar because you lack an understanding of their context. In reality, es un parte del cuerpo.
While that story feels a bit on the nose in the case of actual body parts, it is how I feel about the love muscle and film. I’m totally for the wildly comedic moments. I am. But how are we ever going to get to the point where a wee is literally just un parte del cuerpo?
I recently caught 50 Shades Darker and coming out of the theater I was stuck contemplating why we didn’t see Christian Grey’s (Jamie Dornan) one-eyed monster. Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson) spends a good portion of the movie getting into and getting out of sexy clothes and dresses. The most we see of Grey’s body is a quick shot of his culo and his back as he works out, either his sexual issues with Ana or his shoulder muscles. With the amount of dressing and shower scenes in that movie, I could have stood a couple glimpses of Mr. Grey’s flaccid sausage. I recognize that there’s a more complex conversation to be had with regards to the Motion Picture Association of America’s film rating standards. So, understand I’m not calling out the film makers of a single film who are clearly trying to expand what the mainstream normcore cinemagoer should expect from their movies. But, if there ever was a movie that would be primed to have its audience wildly receptive to a little envelope pushing when it came to the tactical deployment of mister happy, it’s a movie whose entire premise is introducing the uninitiated to the complex sexual and emotional desires of a walking boner.
But, what’s the deal, right? Well, from my perspective as a straight dude, it’d be nice if The D could just be a thing that guys have on screen. I’m bored of the same butt shot of every naked guy getting out of a bed. Like, maybe we could actually get some more interesting shots if we didn’t have to constantly work around the wee chap. And, I certainly am not the right person to speak to the female gaze, so I offer no authoritative position on it. I can only speculate that someone who is sexually attracted to men would probably appreciate a little semi to gawk at about as often as I’m given a pair of breasts to gaze at.
The balance of male and female nudity in film is broken. We expect a lot out of actresses. We want them young. We want them fit. And we want them to bare it all until they reach a certain shockingly not advanced age and then we insist they wear parkas and play grandmothers or spinsters. And all the while, we expect no dinky out of our men? Pull the other one!
To be clear, I think we strive for equality on nudity not by covering up women, but by giving everyone the opportunity to inhabit their bodies as the scene requires. The main problem with the male gaze is that it’s utterly dominant. And the domination of one perspective is necessarily destructive. We should be comfortable seeing naked bodies on screen. And maybe, just maybe, having men get familiar with the female gaze wouldn’t be such a terrible development. Having just watched the 50 Shades sequel, I see an increased screen presence of Mr. Russell The Love Muscle as a way to start to fix that balance.
How can you support Operation Stiff Resolve? The next time you see nudity in a movie that doesn’t involve a bratwurst, maybe wonder out loud with your friends why that is so. You know, we laud the success of Deadpool. And that movie had a pegging joke in it. And I presume a CGI pud. Oh! That’s a type of cinema piece that we could use more of: the Action Jimmy! I imagine a lot of you are a bit ambivalent about this. But, you know. Once you’ve had a couple cinematic experiences and thought about it a little, I think you’ll realize that there was never really any big deal about this at all.
So. Actors. Get out your who-who-dillies on screen. Don’t worry about shrinkage. Don’t worry about being growers, not showers. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve got a twig or a purple-headed warrior. Don’t worry about making the debut of your baloney pony as hilarious as it can be. You tell that director to park the camera and whatever comes into frame is whatever comes into the frame. Throw off those covers. Let us see your disco stick.