Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies

As crucial as latex couture is to us, alternative fashions, cosplay, etc. we have to admit, that sometimes, what somebody is not wearing makes for a more impactful story. Mr. Skin‘s Jim McBride has been attempting to prove this on his very popular Howard Stern-approved website for decades. Now, he has released a documentary, Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies, approaching the who, when, and where someone showed themselves across the history of motion pictures.

Exploring both male and female nudity in films, in this new movie we get silent film snippets, all the way up to what was shown (and done) in the Fifty Shades of Grey movies. Director Danny Wolf rifles through the decades, exploring nudity opposition in cinema from the moral watchdogs of the early silent era, the Hays Code of the 30s’, up into the creation of the MPAA ratings in the tail end of the ’60s.

And all along the way, filmmakers were showing skin.

Actresses and actors, like Shannon Elizabeth (who conjectures in her interview here that without showing her’ assets in American Pie, “I might not have a career today.”) and Malcolm McDowell give their views. McDowell’s infamous Caligula is given as quite a spectacular case in point of major stars romping around, showing lots of skin. As he offers in Skin: “I came along at the very moment that the floodgates opened.”

Applying a decidedly more careful and academic approach to this subject than he manages across his daily Mr. Skin “moments,” McBride does not make light of how the #MeToo movement certainly changed how things are done these days in Hollywood (or how they are called out). To be sure, the man does like his naked actresses, but the point of Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies, beyond being a history lesson, seems to be that showing skin in a film is fine, when a lady or man is fully consenting to show their skin.

As it should be, of course.

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