Is it right for streaming platforms to feature nudity?
- As part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, the TV Parental Guidelines, which streaming services defer to, were established via voluntary enforcement.
- Hulu explains that a program with “brief nudity” merits a PG, or Parental Guidance, rating.
- According to a 2015 Parents Ratings Advisory Study, respondents were more concerned about their children being exposed to nudity than to graphic violence in their entertainment viewing, with 72% and 70% concerned about “full male nudity” and “full female nudity,” respectively, and only 64% worried about “graphic violence.”
- Apple TV was developed in 2016 and 2017 with the express purpose of having all its content “suitable for an Apple Store.” Focusing on “comedies and emotional dramas with broad appeal,” Apple has chosen not to feature content with nudity or violence.
Imagine watching Game of Thrones, but chopped up with blurred shots and altered scenes to exclude nudity. How significantly would this change the show and, subsequently, its popularity? It may not be for everyone, but at least everyone has the right to view it as intended.
Historically, the human form has been featured countless times among some of the world’s most renowned artwork. Shows and films contain nudity through freedom of expression, so removing or editing their creators’ decisions would compromise the integrity of the work itself.
Nudity is neither inherently sexual nor is it a bad thing. When bodies aren’t seen as taboo, it promotes body positivity. Nudists actually report higher self-esteem and life satisfaction. Conversely, stigmatizing nudity can result in harmful, unnecessary shame. Moreover, when something is off-limits, it can often appear more alluring.
Part of what makes streaming so popular is ever-expanding access and extensive user control. Numerous tools and functions are built into each platform to regulate content permissions: parental controls, separate profiles, blocked ratings, etc. Digital settings are straightforward, and, ultimately, the responsibility to monitor consumption doesn’t lie with streaming services. The most important boundaries are set via communication and trust because opportunities to access all sorts of material will be endlessly presented in this modern world--inside and outside the home, streaming platforms or none.
There’s simply no need for streaming platforms to alter existing content to exclude nudity or to feature only nudity-free programming. Proponents of such safeguards already have ample access to a wealth of suitable media and are free to curate their personal viewing to their liking.
When it comes to streaming entertainment featuring nudity, there are widespread negative consequences for society as a whole that must be considered. Such content, at a minimum, distracts from more profound and meaningful content and, on the other end of the spectrum of possibility, cheapens and degrades all who come in contact with it.
Concerning women, if major streaming services include nudity, female actresses are likely to feel pressured to reveal themselves in the buff to continue to gain work within the highly lucrative entertainment industry. The #MeToo movement touched upon this when victims who endured predatory behavior from the likes of Harvey Weinstein to maintain their careers came forward. Another important factor is that young girls and women may view these shows only to get the wrong idea of what it means to be a woman in our modern society.
Furthermore, nudity in streaming media may lead males to objectify women as mere sexual objects rather than equal contributing members of society. Such content also increases the odds of minors accessing such materials, as their parents may be unaware of what is available on the streaming service.
Finally, while nudity may not always be x-rated, it ultimately leads people--in particular males--to pornography, an industry that is known to be abusive to women and engages in sex trafficking.
Because of the adverse effects of nudity in media on society, particularly to women and the younger generation, streaming services should not include such imagery in their offerings. Surely a good story can be told without someone taking their clothes off.
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