Nude Obfuscation

I’ll start by stating that I don’t watch the Discovery Channel’s series Naked & Afraid or Naked & Afraid XL. I saw a couple of episodes when the series first began but I just couldn’t get into it. And, yes, the blurring and pixelization did bother me as did some other aspects of the show. Reality TV just isn’t my preferred entertainment genre.

I realize that Discovery was probably taking a bold step with the premise of a man and a woman being stuck in a hostile survival situation with no clothes and only one item each for 21 days. Kudos to those who take up and endure the challenge. My beef isn’t with the show, its producers, or its participants. I object to the obfuscation of nudity in the media in general, be it television, social media, print media, or any other media.

I agree that reality shows like Naked & Afraid do help to normalize nonsexual nudity even if genitalia and female breasts are obscured. I’m aware that many nudists feel that any positive portrayal of nonsexual nudity in the media is a blessing. Positive portrayals  in the media are good but they don’t go far enough.

Every form of media has its rules and limitations as to what parts and how much of the human body can be displayed and some programs push the limits of what’s acceptable to the network brass, the sponsors, and the audience. Essentially, we all have to live with that. Plus, we need to remember that it’s largely entertainment, nudity seems to be more acceptable if offered as entertainment.

I dislike the very idea of obfuscating the naked human body in any media and I object to the notion that our culture/society deems this obfuscation necessary. Even when the nude human form is portrayed in a completely non-sexual context we still cannot allow certain body parts to be clearly seen because our cultural conditioning is to view all nudity as implicitly sexual. Since we are inclined to view all nudity as sexual and apparently harmful, we feel compelled to “protect” certain eyes from seeing nudity that essentially harms no one.

Yet we apparently have no problem with those same eyes viewing images of killing and maiming which may actually be much more traumatic than than seeing breasts and genitalia. I find myself scratching my head and asking, “Why do we, as a culture and as a society, insist that we (especially our children) must to be protected from that which is not likely to harm us?”

I look forward to the day when, in our society, the blurring and obfuscation of nude images is no longer thought to be necessary, a day when the nude human body can seen for what it is – natural, normal, and non-threatening. As long as we feel that certain body parts must be covered or otherwise obfuscated due to our collective cultural shame then we, as a culture and as a society, have a long way to go before we approach any kind of cultural maturity.

naked and afraid of pixels – are we missing the bigger picture

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5 thoughts on “Nude Obfuscation

  1. The first few episodes of Naked and Afraid were interesting.

    Unfortunately, the show was about the personality conflicts between the participants and less about the challenge of wilderness survival. Situations were obviously contrived. Conflict, rather than challenge, became the main focus. Fake drama was introduced. The producer gave them items and support so people wouldn’t just bow out.

    Of course, there was real drama out there and real good fortune as well as bad but you don’t happen to find a nice shiny pot for boiling water in in the middle of the Lousiana bayou. Comments I have heard from people who participated indicated the country they were in wasn’t as wild as was claimed. Nighttime food raids from the camera crew or nearby farms were not unheard of.

    And of course, there was a focus on young and beautiful participants. Couldn’t manage it every time but it was pretty common. Gotta believe there was some sunscreen smuggled to some of the participants as well.

    First episode (Africa, IIRC) had genuine wilderness survivalists in it but most of the time it was just people who happened to claim they grew up rural or spent a lot of time outdoors. There are very few female wilderness survivalists out there.

    Eventually, I just found it boring. Same old same old.

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    1. You nailed exactly why I’m not a fan of the genre. Reality TV has nothing to do with reality and everything to do with ratings. For the average viewer, the nudity (rather, implied nudity since most of it is obfuscated) draws them in and the invented conflicts and drama keep them hooked. Fake drama seems to be the specialty of reality TV.

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  2. Thanks for the link to my piece about Naked and Afraid and your thoughtful opinion. I am indeed a fan of the show and I don’t think it quite fits into what you describe as reality TV. I don’t think it was conceived that way. There is a whole other genre of survival shows like Man vs Wild and dual survivor that fall into the same genre as Naked and Afraid.

    I agree with you that sometimes the drama seems over the top but I guess I chalk that up to being on 24/7 and the nature of TV. Those of us who hung with the show past the first few episodes saw some real survivalists emerge.

    As with any other entertainment medium there has to be some suspension of disbelief after all there is a camera crew close by documenting the events. So for me the drawn of the show is the personalities and the ability of the participants to function in unusual circumstances that I dare neither I or most of us watching could manage no matter how comfortable we are being naked.

    So I end up focusing more on the fact that at times participants have had their bodies covered by mosquito or ant bites even the the blurred or pixelated places than the fact that those places are blurred or pixelated. Maybe I am just a gullible viewer but I often get so cause up in the experience of the participants that I forget they are naked. Therein lies the genuis of the show in the effort to normalize simple nonsexual nudity. Sure there is some sexual undertones when participants first meet but I expect that in a society where nudity is highly sexualized. In almost all the cases that becomes irrelevant once the participants try to figure out how to survive Naked and Afraid.

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  3. Great Blog and a wealth of information on nudity. I am a mostly at home nudist. Nude usually in my house and fenced backyard. I love doing yard work nude. Keep up the good work you do for nudists. Deej

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