BY Z.S. Roe
You’re likely reading this with all of your clothes on; you should know, however, that I wrote this opinion piece with all of my clothes off.
Don’t you feel better now? Nudity is empowering, isn’t it?
I’d like to think so, but I suspect that I’m in the minority. Part of the problem, I think, is that nudity is often portrayed in the arts solely as a means of sexual expression. While there’s nothing wrong with sexuality and all it encompasses, how a person expresses his or her sexuality is a matter of great contention, and usually sparks considerable disagreement. And so, more often than not, if a person is nude in film, on stage, or in print, many are quick to assume that the naked person is there to seduce or be seduced. I worry that this common assumption deters artists from using the human form to its full potential.
But there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed that more and more films are embracing the “No Clothes” option even when sex isn’t near at hand. Even more interesting is the increase in full frontal dudity (or, rather, male nudity). I don’t know about you, but I’m noticing a lot more penises on screen, and I think it’s a welcome and long overdue addition to the usual bare breasts (or more timid side boob).
Take, for instance, the recently released avant-garde short film from director Alma Har’el, which features a fully nude Shia LaBeouf (of Transformers fame). The film comes in response to a challenge put out by Icelandic musicians Sigur Rós for filmmakers to create films for each song on their latest album, Valtari. Har’el’s film is set to the album’s closing song, “Fjögur Píanó.”
As Har’el explains, the film “is about addiction to drugs, or sex, or anything–and how you get stuck in a cycle […] it’s about not knowing how to get out of something without causing pain to somebody else.” You can view the video below:
How about them apples, eh?
As for the film itself, I found it to be haunting and … well, a little ridiculous. On the one hand, LaBeouf gives a much more nuanced performance then we’re used to seeing from him; on the other hand, however, I found myself often snickering and wondering just how “artsy” and “post-modern” this thing was going to become. It’s a powerful little film, for sure, but one that was just a wee bit too abstract for my tastes.
What I like most about the short film, though, is its use of nudity: It isn’t stylized or exaggerated, and while it’s vaguely sexual, it’s not something anybody but a twelve year old would be turned on by. It’s nudity in its plainest and best form. LaBeouf isn’t strutting his stuff like some silly peacock; he’s just being who he is: a guy without any pants.
And for that, Shia LaBeouf makes a pretty good role model because his man meat is as average as the rest of ours. The only difference is that LaBeouf is willing to show us just how far being average can take you.
My hat goes off to you, good sir. Stand proud and true, and forever let your pokie swing free in the breeze.
Opinion is a bi-monthly column of just that, my opinion. While opinions are like noses and everyone has one, mine are especially snotty. Please leave a comment or question—all opinions are welcome, and all contributions are greatly appreciated. If you like what you read here, please subscribe.