Censorship is ignorance. How to fight it? Read more about naturism, including Co-ed Naked Philosophy! The excerpt below is based on an actual incident a few years ago in Florida, involving a complaint about a lawn-statue replica of Michelangelo’s David:
To their credit, the Channel 5 news team deemed the Michelangelo’s David controversy much less important than the energy crisis, peace negotiations in the Middle East and in Colombia, and the campaign to rewrite the state’s ridiculously antiquated, astronomically amended racist constitution. But that didn’t stop the broadcast’s organizers from tantalizing their viewers, just before each commercial break, with tawdry teasers like: “Risqué statues: Would YOU put Michelangelo’s David on YOUR front lawn?” and “Coming up: male sexuality on display. Why one concerned citizen said, ENOUGH is ENOUGH.” As the anchors read these lines the viewer would be treated to a ridiculous shot of a replica of David in front of Tucker’s shop, with that infamous blur covering his p#### and s######.
Only in the last two minutes of the broadcast did the David story finally appear. Standing underneath the LOUISDALE LANDSCAPING sign, and next to the blurred David, the young female reporter introduced the topic while recycling the same tawdry teasers as before. Christopher guessed the replica must have been about six feet tall. Then the reporter interviewed the concerned citizen:
“Mr. Schillinger, can you describe the circumstances of your complaint?”
“My daughter and her friend were in the backseat of the car when I drove by here the other day on my way to Wal-Mart. They started to giggle and asked me some questions, and, you know, I found myself in a situation where I had to explain what a…you know…what a penis is. It was real embarrassing.”
The reporter interviewed Tucker: “Mr. Bierson, had you ever had complaints like this before?”
“What did you decide to do when the police called you?”
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that statue. It’s a classic. But I didn’t want to stir up any trouble, and I didn’t want the media to come—huh, so much for that—so I decided to put a leopard-print thong on him.”
The camera froze awkwardly on Tucker’s image for a few seconds before the screen split with two shots of David, labeled BEFORE and AFTER, showing the nude but blurred David on the left and the garishly clad David on the right. The reporter’s voice-over could be heard: “What a difference a swimsuit can make. This is Lana Fitzgerald in Louisdale for Channel 5 at 5.”
The co-anchors, with forced smiles and no teleprompting to read as the show ended, looked gamely at each other. The male anchor said “How’s that for an exposé?” while the female anchor shrugged and delivered the catchphrase “Channel Five: Covering the Coast.”
Christopher laughed out loud. “Covering the Coast MY ASS!” he roared, jumping up to moon his TV. “The whole ass, or NOTHING! Exposé this!” Then he pressed the mute button on the remote control and sat dumbstruck for a few minutes. He called Tucker, not knowing what to say, and got his answering machine. While he prepared and ate his dinner, he couldn’t stop going over the remark of the “concerned citizen,” turning it over and around in his mind, exposing it to the need for knowledge crying out from the concerned citizenry:
“I found myself in a situation where I had to explain what a…you know…what a penis is.”
I found myself in a situation where I had to explain what a…you know…what a vulva is.
a situation where I had to explain what a…you know…what an erection is.
a situation where I had to explain what…you know…what menstruation is.
where I had to explain what…you know…what pregnancy is.
where I had to explain what…you know what sex is.
I had to explain what you know what anatomy is.
had to explain what you know what philosophy is.
to explain what you know what doubt is.
explain what you know what curiosity is.
you know what discussion is.
know what censorship is.
what love is.
“What spirit is so empty and blind, that it cannot recognize the fact that the foot is more noble than the shoe, and skin more beautiful that the garment with which it is clothed?”
My thoughts beyond this scene: The media tend to react to these complaints at face value. If they’re going to devote time or space to “coverage” of complaints like this, why don’t they turn the tables, and gently make fun of the fact that there are still people out there who feel the need to complain like that? The media could do much more to contextualize nudity within art, health, fun, and well-being. In the second part of Co-ed Naked Philosophy, the reporter from the scene above, Lana Fitzgerald, has a change of heart about the media’s relationship to nudity and makes a very daring decision…