Sunday, 8 January 2012

Warped priorities

Last week the new series of Sherlock started, the first episode of which featured the only woman to run rings around the supersleuth, Irene Adler - played by Lara Pulver.

In this adaptation of Sherlock, the esteemed Adler operates as a dominatrix and appears in a state of severe undress at least once and a barely clad state in a number of other scenes.

As an initial disclaimer: I love the series - you should all watch it - and I am a big fan of the BBC.

As the scenes featuring Adler's disrobing took place before the 9 o'clock 'watershed' there were swarms of complaints on Twitter from angry Daily Mail readers -
One wrote on Twitter: ‘Dominatrix?! Watershed anyone? My ten-year-old was watching that.’
Another said: ‘I don’t think the storyline in Sherlock is pre-watershed suitable.’
A third asked: ‘How was Sherlock on pre-watershed with that slut walking round with no clothes on for most of it?!’ 
Okay, so you get where the drift of what happened. The Mail does note in the article that Auntie Beeb had no official complaints, in fact getting excellent responses.

Here is my problem with this: in the first series Sherlock features a serial killer, effectively, in every episode. People die, there are guns pointed at lots of characters, there is a large amount of violence and, yes, at least one person is shot, on screen; that's not including the scene where a Tong General tortures a semi-regular character or when Moriarty has a bomb strapped to a child. There was no real up-cry about that. There were no "Enraged of Tunbridge Wells" on Twitter complaining that their children saw this violence. But the sight of a woman's back and a hint of sideboob and out come the morality police. A large reason for this is the bizarre bias we have in our society towards violence over sex.

Have a look at any 'boys' cartoon. I loved Transformers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I was a kid, my little brother loves a show called Ben 10. There is a massive amount of violence - in fact the premise of Transformers is a war - but if there was ever a single bare breast shown, it would instantly be pulled off the shelves and propriety-bombed off the screens.

The violence on screen can be shown more or less all day, although there is a degree to which it is curtailed, but the single image of a naked woman (or man) is deemed too much for our children to take?

That seems to be the wrong way around. While I agree that sometimes violence and war are necessary, they are far more harmful to people than nudity or sex are. Our cultural attitude to human sexuality seems even lugubrious. I think that a lot of our sexual hang-ups tie into this; the objectification of women's bodies certainly can. People are drawn to things which are hidden away; it them a fetish, a tempting taboo.

In an episode of The Godless Bitches podcast recently talked about how religion makes sex a guilty action; something you should be ashamed of. You're allowed it when you're married, but in any other circumstance you should beg forgiveness. This works when there's the risk of consequences - pregnancy, STDs - but now these consequences can be avoided if we're educated properly about sex, but our society isn't moving on from thinking that sex is somehow bad.

There are also massively sexist results of this attitude to nudity. Women's bodies become goals; the Page 3 girls in every red-top 'news'paper, put there to gratify the men who are so used to the idea of nudity being 'naughty' that they lap it up and rate girls on how 'hot' they are.

I don't think that seeing a bare breast, bottom or even - horrors - the occasional genital will hurt a child. If we get used to the idea that it is natural in some situations to be unclothed then it might even be beneficial. Certainly more beneficial than endless cartoons about wars and action films trivialising violence to a cultural goal of the Action Hero©

Culture is more comfortable with children seeing violence and war than seeing a single penis/vagina, or hearing a single fuck or shit.

Fuck that shit!

Here Endeth The Rant...

Further information, specifically focusing on Hollywood's preference of violence over sex is in Kirby Dick's excellent This Film Is Not Yet Rated

Now, so as not to be sexist: Here is Benedict Cumberpatch, playing Sherlock Holmes, in a compromising moment!

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