Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nudity in Entertainment

My wife and I recently switched to a new satellite television provider, and with the switch came a lot of channels that we didn't have before.  Modeling for a night class in Dallas and then driving back home to Fort Worth became a weekly part of my schedule this semester.  My wife is usually asleep when I get home on these late nights, and I will lie in bed and channel surf as I wind down from modeling and driving through construction traffic (it seems as if the entire Dallas-Fort Worth freeway system is a construction zone lately).  The show I always found myself stopping and watching was a bloody, gory series on Starz called Spartacus: Vengeance.  It was like nothing I had ever seen on TV before, and I would imagine that a few episodes, if submitted to the MPAA, would get NC-17 ratings.  And yet, the series, set in ancient Roman times, was strangely compelling, so compelling in fact, that, once the current season ended in a spectacularly violent and gory episode, I found myself going to Bestbuy and purchasing a Blu-ray disc set of the first season (called Spartacus: Blood and Sand).

I started watching these in the early evenings on my non-modeling nights (with the kids in the other room), and my wife also got sucked in by the violent and sexual conflicts between the characters.  I think we watched all thirteen episodes over the course of just six days.  The first difference I noticed between this first season (which aired in 2010) and the one I had just finished watching on the Starz channel is that the lead role of Spartacus was played by a different actor.  That first season's Spartacus was Andy Whitfield who, tragically, contracted non-Hodgkins lymphoma and died last September.  My wife and I found that difficult to believe watching him in that first season, as healthy as he looked.  And he had a very expressive face, playing the range of emotions very, very well.

In addition to the gory violence, Spartacus: Blood and Sand also pushed the envelope in the amount of nudity and sex on display.  Part of it, I'm sure, is the result of trying to portray an accurate picture of life in the decadent late Roman Republic (the show is set around 73 B.C., before the Empire).  One of the refreshing things about the nudity in the show is that the producers didn't discriminate.  Males were just as naked as the females, as the show featured full frontal nudity of both genders.

It was the ninth episode of that first season that stands out.  The nudity was much more prominent than in any other episode, and a new character, a slave girl named Mira, was introduced.  Mira was completely nude throughout most of the show, and it took me awhile to recognize her from the second season.  She was, apparently, to become a recurring character from that point forward.  As I watched that episode, I felt admiration for the actress playing Mira.  There are regular nude scenes, and then there are scenes like those found in that episode of Spartacus: Blood and Sand where Mira, because she is a slave, was forced to stand naked and completely exposed, and the camera didn't shy away from any of it.

So, I went to one of my favorite sites,, and learned a bit more about this actress. Her name is Katrina Law, and I was fortunate enough to find her website and a blog entry she wrote about those nude scenes. I find her thoughts very interesting. I've been modeling nude for art classes for almost three decades, but I still remember how I felt before my first figure drawing session. I identify with her when she says: " I distinctly remember finally getting a full script and, after reading it and realizing what I had gotten myself into, I just sat in my trailer for a few minutes and willed myself to breathe normally; not to panic."

The only thing I would question her on is this statement:  "I remember the director telling me that they were going to shot from straight on and I thought, 'But what about the best angles? Straight on is a terrible angle and quite possibly the least flattering out of all the angles!'"   I've looked at a lot of drawings of myself, and it's the straight on angles that I prefer the most. It's those profiles, where one can see that my abdomen extends out farther than my chest (too many beers, I guess), that I don't really care for.

Anyway, her entire blog post is interesting, and I recommend it to anyone who is contemplating doing any kind of job that requires nudity, be it modeling, acting, or whatever.  I also recommend Spartacus: Blood and Sand to those who can handle the graphic scenes, but just make sure the kids are asleep before you start it.

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