of Dr. Steven L. Berg

Archive for the day “January 28, 2012”

Teaching Films that Include Nudity

National Warm Up Exercise Piece by Samin Son is a very interesting study of movement, a concept that is covered in the film class I teach.  However, because of the full frontal nudity, some students might object to it.  When I have previously taught Eadweard Muybridge, I have used some of his human motion studies in addition to his famous 1878 motion study of a horse.  However, those images are over 100 years old.  I am not sure why contemporary nudes are more provocative/controversial than historic nudes, but that seems to be the case.  I think that combining National Warm Up Exercise Piece with Muybridge might work well.

Given the nature of film study, there is more flexibility in the film class than there are in some others.  For example, I have taught [find name of film on video currently in my office] which has full frontal nudity without any problem.  I have also taught PES’s Roof Sex which was his first animated film.

Once one stumbles across an interesting video on YouTube, related videos make an appearance.  Разбитае сэрца пацана. Wall-e.  is a very strange movie that is even more difficult to understand than it might be because I don’t know the language.  However, I suspect that even if I knew the language, it would not help much.  But the film’s focus on movement is undeniable. Because one of the actors has no hands, it is a film that could be taught in conjunction with Freaks.  However, there is the issue of full frontal nudity.

As I write about nudity and film, I think of Potter Stewart’s inability to define obscenity when he concurred in Jacobellis v. Ohio and ruled that the state of Ohio could not ban Les Amants: “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [hard-core pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

Even in 1964, I do not believe that Potter Stewart would consider these films obscene.  I am sure that in 2012 that my students would not.  But teaching films that involve nudity needs to be done with sensitivity.


I spent a great deal of time cruising around YouTube this evening randomly hitting links of recommended films.  It is amazing how far afield one can get and what one can discover.  Some films I want to remember include:

I wrote “Blogs, Term Papers, and Effective Pedagogy” which I cross posted in Etena Sacca-vajjena and at HASTAC.

I commented on Erik Marshall’s “Blogs in Class” (A Memorable Fancy, 21 January 2012).

I also began drafting an analysis of Freaks in which I am focusing on the Gooble Gobble scene.  To finish it, I need to find some reference materials for the research I did on the history of marriage as well as watch the scene several more times.


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