June 7, 2011

Nude v. Naked

I didn’t watch the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday night, but I wished I had, #1, because Jason Sudeikis was hosting (seriously – how can you not have a crush on the guy?) and #2, because of Reese Witherspoon’s acceptance speech in which she said:
I know it's cool to be bad, I get it ... but it's also possible to make it in Hollywood without a reality show.  When I came up in this business, you made a sex tape and you were embarrassed and hid it under your bed and like if you took naked pictures of yourself on your cell phone, you hide your face!
For those of you living under a rock, and haven’t heard about or seen actress Blake Lively’s nude photos, this was clearly in response to that, as well as to the reality TV darlings – the Kim Kardashians and Paris Hiltons that we love to hate but can’t seem to get enough of. (This is what the media does to us, friends.)

Anyway, watching the clip of Reese’s speech made me reflect on the theme of women dumbing themselves down or slutting themselves up in an effort to try to be noticed or recognized – on the major scale to become famous or on a minor scale to get attention from the opposite sex. This is not a feminist issue, might I add, but a self-valuing issue. Why should anyone feel the need to reduce one’s self to just a naked body? Granted, it’s the oldest trick in the book, although if you think about it, everyone’s got a little T&A . . .

But it’s what you do with that T&A that counts. A little T&A used in the right place at the right time, as an accompaniment to smart and interesting, is undoubtedly sexy, the opposite of slutty, the opposite of naked. (Well, at least I think so. Some feminists may disagree.) T&A used at the wrong time, on the other hand, in the wrong place, without any provision of talent or smarts, is just boring. It is. 

For full disclosure, I admit I did take a peek at Blake Lively’s pics, and she looked like any girl with a good body. I’m not sure why I was surprised by this – maybe because she’s a celebrity – but it nonetheless made me recall this thing I learned in Art History class my freshman year in college, that is the notion of Nude v. Naked. Nude is sexy and intentional; it’s art. Naked, on the other hand, is self-conscious and exposed; barren. In a sense, Naked represents the Paris Hiltons and the Kim Kardashians of our society. (I leave Blake Lively off the list because she is a girl with some redeemable value who cheapened herself by making a really dumb mistake – there’s still hope for her.) But as for the Parises and Kims, they may not always be naked, but for now that’s what they are – caught in that strange place in society, where they are both a source of entertainment for their shameless exposedness and a laughing stock, for their lack of demonstrable talent and foolish plugs for every product possible.

I’m glad Reese Witherspoon spoke her mind on Sunday night, because it’s sound bites like that which resonate to a society which isn’t always willing to confront the rippling effect of a little T&A at the wrong time and place.


Zinn said...

This is kind of interesting. I am all about being nude if that's what you want to be. I mean, being nude is a whole lot more comfortable than wearing clothes! :P
It is really too bad that they get all this attention for naked photos. There are tons of porn stars out there that are perfectly happy with that lifestyle - publish their photos instead! ;)

Sarah said...

Very good point! :)