This isn’t strictly a woman’s issue, but it definitely affects female actors more than male.
It’s the dogmatically held belief in Hollywood that you have to put a sex/nudity scene in any movie not specifically intended for kids under 13. It can be between minor characters, even throwaways – doesn’t matter, so long as the characters are physically attractive. So long as somebody boinks or flashes body parts on screen, that gives the casting agent a chance of casting some young, nubile actress. Then the publicists start a buzz about the fact that this woman’s naked on film, and young men show up for the express purpose of seeing her. They believe that if they can promise the audience some hot young up-and-coming actress naked, a lot of people will come to see the movie who never would have just for the story.
Strangely, Hollywood doesn’t get that it works both ways. I know a lot of women who’ve rented or gone to see every movie where Ewan McGregor gets naked. And yet the obligatory sex and nudity scenes are designed around the featuring of female nudity.
Does female nudity/sex sell tickets? Or DVD’s? So the demographics guys tell us. If you write a great script that’s obviously going to have a PG-13 or R rating anyway, you are instructed to throw in some sex. Anywhere. Between any two characters. Even if you carefully and patiently explain that the whole damn point of the story is that none of these people are getting any, they insist you work in a sex scene. Invent two whole new characters who have no other purpose than to boink, if that’s what it takes.
And we wonder why so much of what winds up on the big screen is crap.
It’s not the directors or writers, generally, who want this stuff – although, once they’ve been properly trained, they come to add in the crap without being told. Writers and directors are taught from day one that you don’t slow down the story for gratuitous anything: sex, violence, cool special effects, pompous speeches, cameos by William Shatner. All of these things draw people out of the movie, unless they’re a really integral part of the story. Like any other element, you have to know how much time to spend with them before the audience starts going out for popcorn.
But the theory is that when sex or boobies come on screen, the whole audience is riveted to it. Or at least the important part of the audience – young men Hollywood thinks it can control via visual stimuli. (Or don’t you think the fascination with missiles and explosions is appealing to the sex drive?)
It’s the stuffed shirts who demand the sex scenes, based on supposed reams of data that supposedly can only be interpreted to mean that audiences won’t go see a good film unless you also interrupt it with a little sideshow of sex. But it’s almost always the female actors who pay, because it’s been deemed NC-17 to show a penis on film, with a few exceptions. And the demo guys are absolutely, thoroughly positive that audiences do not want to see penises on screen the way they want to see breasts on screen. I’m sure this has nothing to do with the demo guys worrying that the featured penises might be more appealing than their own. Goodness, no. I’m sure their fragile male egos aren’t at all worried that their girlfriends and wives would compare them to what they’re seeing on film.
As far as I can tell, no actual data has been collected on whether women want to see full frontal male nudity on film. There’s been discussion. There were rumors a few years ago that Bruce Willis was going to get naked with a camera, and it sounded to me like plenty of women were ready to line up for tickets. But the stuff shirts announced that there wasn’t sufficient interest.
From whom, I wonder? The real audience, or the carefully selected panels they manipulate to get the answers they want to hear?
It’s anecdotal evidence, but do a search for discussion forums where the topic of Ewan McGregor naked comes up, and read what the posters say. Females do want to see attractive guys without clothes. So do gay men. So, where’s Hollywood’s holy creed “We give the audience what they want to see” in this case? Out lunching at a strip club? Apparently, they give the audience what they want the audience to want to see. They’re training us to want to see certain things, not pandering to what audiences really want.