There's not enough penis on television. At least, that's The Leftovers creator Damon Lindelof's theory. In fact, the show boss is so passionate about evening the playing field between whose naked bodies we see on TV that he even has a vanity plate that reads "FFRNTL," he tells TVLine.
Throughout the course of his show's run on HBO, Lindelof made it his mission to show more cisgender male nudity on the small screen (Reminder that not all men have penises and not all people with penises are men, and the same goes for women. The comments from Lindelof refer to cisgender folks' bodies).
During the show's run, audiences saw the penes (yes, this is the actual plural of "penis") of stars Christopher Eccleston and Chris Zylka, along with a random streaker. “There’s an incredible disproportion between naked women and naked men on television,” Lindelof told TVLine. “And if you’re going to do a show on HBO, which is one of the few places where you can do full frontal nudity, there’s no excuse not to show more dongs. I’m passionate about it.”
Sadly, fans did not get to see star Justin Theroux in the buff, as he apparently wasn't comfortable baring it all for the camera. “The audience still has a very odd reaction to seeing male genitalia,” says Lindelof. “Yet when they see female genitalia or naked breasts, they’re completely nonchalant about it."
The tide appears to be turning on other shows, as well. On Hulu's new series Harlots, creators are committed to showing cisgender men and cisgender women naked in equal amounts. The show, which was directed by a woman and has an all-woman writing and production team, promised the show would be from "the female gaze," or what executive producer Alison Owen called "whore's eye view" (Harlots is a show about sex workers). Earlier this year, American Gods also gave us a full-frontal nude image during a gay sex scene.
"[So] I’m just the beginning of the vanguard, but I want to normalize male nudity on television,” Lindelof said. He's clearly onto something: photographer Laura Dodsworth recently spoke to The Guardian about her new (NSFW) photo project, Manhood, in which she talked to 100 men about their penis as a way to break the stigma and to humanize the organ, and the men attached to them.
Here's hoping that more representation of naked bodies on the screen will lead to less objectifying nude images of women, and more positive visuals overall.
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