Get yer tackle out for the girls
I predict a tidal wave of male nudity
Sunday 23 August 1998
In many ways I would have greater respect for old Demi if she had the gall to stand up and proudly anounce "My tits are Strippers," or "My buns are GI Jane." Instead, she drones on about artistic merit to cover up for the fact that we all know that many boys (and probably girls, too) watch movies with naked ladies in because they know there will be naked ladies in the movie. Cheeky Ewan, on the other hand, can boast about his emancipated tackle till his balls go blue, not because he makes arty movies, but because it is generally assumed that girls (and boys) don't rent his vids just to see his tadger.
Which of course they do. One of the more interesting effects of the Titanic fallout was the resurfacing of the execrable Total Eclipse in which we are treated to a flash of Leo's manhood (or more acurately, boyhood). It turned out that there were millions of women who did want to see "more" of little Leo. Hollywood may appear to be run by little white men, but what makes it tick is economics. It took Waiting To Exhale for them to realise that there was a big audience for mainstream black cinema. Now it can no longer ignore male nudity as a cinematic selling point.
There is of course more to this than a simple lack of clothes; we have known for years the cinematic difference between an incidental naked person and the body as sex object. What is interesting is that when men are filmed as sex objects they tend to be homosexual. What is even more interesting is that these films are watched and lusted over by women. This is no new thing; a generation of schoolgirls grew up thrilling to Rupert Everett in Another Country and Rupert Graves in Maurice. But the phenomenon was not discussed because admitting that women are turned on by gay men involves humiliating backpedalling.
The male fetish for lesbianism has always been one of feminism's trump cards ("men are animals"); nasty boys want two ladies in bed because it makes them feel manly and commanding; yuck. When dodgy, best friend's boyfriend suggested a threesome back at the bedsit the standard reply was: a) if I'm going to sleep with other women it won't be to satisfy a voyeur; b) real lesbians scare you; you just like straight women acting out; c) from what I hear you can't work out what to do with one woman in bed; how the hell would you handle two?
It was assumed that women didn't perv over boy-to-boy pairings because, well, naked ladies were beautiful, and naked men were just naked; no one wanted to look at them. As it turns out, women do want to look at them; and now the studios know this, I predict a tidal wave of male nudity over the next few years. Since naked men are officially nice to look at, the great Seventies sleaze comment: "What could be more beautiful than two women together?" can swiftly be appropriated for the other side. The moment when McGregor snogs Jonathan Rhys Myers in Velvet Goldmine is easily the most erotic section of celluloid this year.
Of course the beauty is that we know they are only acting; I can't imagine women enjoying serious gay porn, any more than men would enjoy seeing lesbian porn made for a lesbian market. The fascination is more complex than that. Perhaps it is curiosity, perhaps it is less threatening, or perhaps it is because two are better than one.
Whatever. It's time for women to apologise for calling men low-down dirty bastards for all these years.
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