Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Nudity in the movies

Some people may believe that today's movies showcase the most nudity. But that isn't always true. I am sure that some of you were more than a bit surprised to see all of the topless women in The Wild Bunch. However, during the 1960s, the restrictions on movie content had lessened. Following is a brief history of movie rating system. In 1915, the federal government ruled that movies were merely a business and that they did not fall under the First Amendment. For fear of federal regulations, the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association (later known as the MPAA) adopted the Production Code on March 31, 1930. The Code followed three general principles: 1) No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin, 2) Correct standards of life, subject only to the requirements of drama and entertainment, shall be presented, and 3) Law, natural or human, shall not be ridiculed, nor shall sympathy be created for its violation. The Code wasn't enforced until 1934 due to a lack of enforcement agency. The code was not created or enforced by any government agency. In fact, the movie executives created the code in the hope of preventing government regulations and censorship. In the 1950s, the Code adopted more guidelines and became stricter. As a result, many movies were released without the Code's certificate of approval. This weakened the enforcement of the Production Code and it was abandoned in 1968 by the movie rating system. The movie rating system began with 4 ratings: G, M, R, and X. These ratings eventually evolved into the current movie rating system. With the use of the rating system, the restrictions placed upon movies had lessened. Instead, movies were categorized in order to suggest appropriate viewing audiences. The Wild Bunch was given the rating of R for its nudity and violence for its original 1969 release and for the more current release of the director's cut. Although the movies have undergone different restrictions over the years, nudity is not new to the audience. I will say, however, that I was surprised to see such a graphic shot of a nursing mother. The scene did not offend me but it did catch me off guard because I know that a large number of the American population are offended by this site (mainly because I had to deal with this earlier in the year). The site of breastfeeding women has always been a taboo subject and I was pleasantly surprised to see it portrayed so naturally in this movie.


  1. The Wild Bunch surprised me a lot too. Not just with the nudity, but with everything. For a film made in 1969 I thought it was very ahead of its time. The special effects, locations, and epic scale of the film really impressed me. If it wasn't for the camera quality which gave the film that "old" look, I would have thought this was made in the 90s. The amount of violence in the film surprised me as well. You see a lot of people get shot. Many were just innocent people caught in the crossfire. The Wild Bunch was a wild film indeed, especially for the 60s/70s.

  2. Actually, the nudity didn't bother me at all. The violence was much more troublesome and I had a very difficult time watching the scenes where I thought animals might have been injured. By the way, breastfeeding WASN'T always taboo. That didn't really start until powdered formula was introduced into the market and when I was born in the 1970s it was still the norm, so I think that it may be just a "taboo" for younger generations.

  3. Breastfeeding was taboo in the sense of it being done openly in public. Yes, a woman may have breastfed in public but she would have done so discreetly by covering herself and the child. She wouldn't have flashed everyone some nipple before the child latched on. One of the reasons people wanted formula was to discourage women from breastfeeding in public.