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.