Nudity, Naked Bodies And Censorship:
Unclothed Bodies and Censorship Problems: Before we attempt to understand Nudity and Censorship, we must first comprehend the basic basis used by censors today as guidance. So with that in your mind, I ‘ll start off by listing the terms that censors use as reason for deciding what should be censored and what would be considered “safe” or public worthy.
The usage of these terms in this article will be predicated on their legal definitions, recorded at the end for your reference. Click on any term below to jump to its definition.
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The essential terms that’ll be referred to are:
So given that we’ve listed and defined the basic terms, let’s investigate the issue of censorship and how it pertains to nudity and the naked human form.
The Issue Of Nudity and Censorship and CensoringOf Naked Bodies
Is Nudity A Offense! Dilemmas with the censoring of unclothed bodies!
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States is the guideline used by the legal system, in the U.S., for freedom of speech. This can be where we will begin:
The First Amendment to the Bill of Rights:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Some might argue that today in the U.S., the problem of censorship has been spinning out of control. Mainstream Broadway shows, TV shows, art, books, articles, websites and many more have been forced to alter or cut out parts in order to abide by the censorship standards set forth by the powers that be. For the most part, the reasons given for censoring stuff vary but in its essence, it normally has to do with the morals and ethics set forth by the nation and its courts (in a democratic society).
Not all censored advice would be considered contentious. There are many examples where censorship can be used by government agencies as a vital part of national security. They usually do not tell the public what they’re doing because it could undermine their ability to carry out a mission, hence placing innocent people’s lives in danger. (An example of this would be if the FBI got wind of terror cell’s purpose to carry out an attack. By broadcasting intent to apprehend the terror cell’s members, they run the risk that those terrorists will simply run away before they get caught).
But not all cases are so cut and dry as is the case with arty or uncomplicated and / or innocent nudity. To comprehend why nudity is censored now we must first realize when it started. The nude human form wasn’t always viewed as a hazard. The ancient Greeks and Romans had no issue with nudity, consequently the many bare figures depicted in their various types of art. Both empires created statues and art depicting the naked human form in a celebratory fashion, with many of the unclothed figures standing tall and proud. They clearly did not have an issue with public or societal nudity since the original Olympic Games were conducted (by men) in the nude, and the individuals who frequented the public bath houses were all nude. Bath houses were a gathering place for social interaction and some of them were even unisex, as was the case with the bath houses which were unearthed in Bet Shean Israel.
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So one might wonder, when did everything change and why? Well, the first methodical attempt of censoring the unclothed human form happened with the rise of Christianity and the Catholic Church. Once Christianity became an established faith we find a dramatic shift in attitudes towards the naked human body. The Church’s perception of nudity and the naked human body shifted the bare figure in art from a positive image to one among shame. Once the Church began viewing sexuality as a primal sin, the aesthetic representation of nudity started to transform too. The bare art that was made during the medieval time period started depicting naked bodies that were guilt-ridden or even worse eternally cursed.
Hans Memling’s The Last Judgment
It is important to notice the risk of “eternal damnation”, for true believers, can be a powerful motivator and will inevitably become a driving force that fuels the crusades of people who seek to implement ideals centered on religious beliefs.
During the early Middle Ages, the Catholic Church tried to command the depiction of nudity and the human form. Under the guidelines set forth by the church, nudity in art was just to be enabled when depicting classical mythological themes, but not allowed when depicting religious or just random ones. The church’s efforts to suppress and censor the depiction of nudity were tremendously successful and their policies were the law of the land for many years in the future. In fact, it was not until the Renaissance that we begin to see a shift back towards a more accepting and positive depiction of nakedness and a revival of the classic, more accepting view of the nude body.
The Renaissance ushered in a brand new age. Works of art such as Michaelangelo’s David and Raphael’s The Three Graces began to challenge the notion that the naked human body should be synonymous with shame. Their works depict naked folks in a glorified manner, devoid of negative connotation.
Subsequent bits continued this trend of celebrating the human form but as the decades passed, things didn’t get easier for artists whose work dealt with the sensitive topic of nudity.
Unclothed Bodies by Raphael – The Three Graces
Nudity, Naked Bodies And Censorship: