It's funny over here. You're quite safe from penis shots in America because American people don't have penises, so you can't see them in film. Whereas in Britain you can see your penis in film. So since it's an American picture, it's just a bum you see. Ewan McGregor, interviewed by MTV
I apologize for the lame joke in the title, but in this case it rings true. As McGregor insinuated above, there's a certain phobia about male genitalia, so much so that the mere sight of it -- even in its inactive state -- leads to uproar. Why would I mention this today? Watchmen is now out on DVD, and that means full-frontal Dr. Manhattan.
While it's probably one of the most necessary uses of nudity (fake flesh at that), Manhattan's penis sent many conservative critics and moviegoers into a rant-filled panic. Never mind the fact that he's a full-stop superhero who is naked, and has a fulled developed body. Some of the masses expected him to keep prudish sensibilities in mind and Ken-ize his genitalia as he saves the world or works in his natural state. In honor of the Manhattan uproar, here are seven cases where male nudity became the main talking point of the film.
Comparisons to the comic penis, polls of distraction, confirmation of its appearance, the cultural significance of the appendage -- one Google search shows just how much buzz Dr. Manhattan's body evoked. What's most notable about this bit of full-frontal is its necessity. It wasn't shown for sex, for laughs, or in a sexy shower scene. It was there because Manhattan was naked, and he was naked because he's a huge superhero re-forming himself, who evolved well beyond prudish feelings.
This one may be a toss-up -- buzzed about for it's superfluous and revealing shower scene just as much as the jokes that the scene was full-frontal Bacon. I'm not sure why there was a need for Kevin Bacon's bacon. Maybe it was slipped in to balance all the steamy bisexual shenanigans and moments with Denise Richards. Maybe it was an attempt to show that arses aren't the only thing that's bare in a shower scene. Whatever the case, by the end of the film, no one was talking about the big twist, but they were talking about Bacon.
This one didn't slip in with an R rating. Sure, the NC-17 rating was silly enough to list scrotums with flushing goldfish, but there's no doubt that the male nudity had a lot to do with it. Heck, I first learned about it when a girl came into school claiming to have seem full-frontal Keitel. Now we must wait and see how Nicolas Cage handles it for the remake...
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
We all learned pretty quickly -- Jason Segel is well-endowed and not afraid to show it. While his reveal in the film is definitely meant for laughs, it -- at the very least -- does so to be ultimately revealing and humiliating. He's in a towel, then his heart is broken and clothes don't matter. When Sarah asks if he wants clothes, Peter's reply is almost rational: "Would you like to pick out the outfit you break up with me in?"
Practically all attempts to shock with genitalia seem wimpy when placed against Sacha Baron Cohen, who has made a solid career pushing boundaries. He took male nudity to a new level with man-on-man hairy, sweaty wrestling in Borat, and then followed things up with his flamboyant Bruno and question about whether stunt genitalia was used.
Actually, Baron Cohen might be the only instance where the nudity didn't trump the rest of his films' ridiculousness. So, replace this with Catherine Breillat's Anatomy of Hell if you see fit.
The Brown Bunny
There's a little dialog here and there, intermingled with long, rain-filled scenes driving on the highway. But when Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny is about to end, it all changes. Suddenly he and Chloe Sevigny are in a hotel room, and we see -- in close-up detail -- her give him oral sex as he hurls insults and hatred at her. Just how explicit? The soundtrack's cover, while well blurred, should give you an idea.
For less misogynistic use of blatant sex, there's Clement Virgo's Lie with Me, starring Lauren Lee Smith and Eric Balfour.
There's Something About Mary
Much of the Farrelly Brothers' film elicits laughs, but none were as loud as long as Ben Stiller's unfortunate bathroom scene, where we get a flashing peep of his penis caught in his zipper. To this day, I wonder if the film would've been half as popular without that moment.