The Full Monty, if you don’t already know, is a great comedy about unemployed British men who can’t catch a break and decide to make some money by stripping like the guys at these clubs their wives go to. It suggests a lot of dialogs we could have about gender. We see men with body shame issues. We see men selling a peek at their bodies just the way women have for so many years. We also see the art of stripping at its purest, where the strippers are their own agents, where they’re having fun, where the audience is having fun, where it’s not about power or sex. This could generate so many conversations, I’m not sure where to start.
So I’m going to take this in a completely different direction and talk about the MPAA and network censorship. The phrase “The Full Monty” means full-frontal complete nudity. In the end that’s what the strip routine gets down to. But we mustn’t see it. In the movie version, we see the men from behind as they triumphantly toss out the hats that were the last items of clothing covering their nether regions: full backside nudity. But we can’t see them from the front. Whether this is the MPAA’s misogynistic “penises = rated X” rule at work or whether it was just impossible to find enough male actors willing to get completely naked on screen (I doubt it), the end result is the same. And in this case, I think it belies one of the most powerful messages of the film: that the body isn’t just a sex object. It’s also something to have fun with, to be proud of even if you’re not in ideal shape, to enjoy and celebrate.
But according to the MPAA, that’s not the case for the penis. It’s the one part that we must be protected from seeing because it’s dirty. It’s an automatically rated X body part. It’s pornography.
What are the censors really afraid of? Of seeing men objectified like women have been all these years? Of seeing naked male actors and finding themselves turned on? Of nice girls seeing naked male actors and realizing the few men they’ve been with weren’t the best available in the world?