Female Nudity in Films: Art or Exploitation?

 

The issue of nudity in art has been an issue for as long as there has been art, artists, and people to judge their work. When it comes to nudity in film, though, what relevance does the context of the nudity within the storyline or overall thematic elements have in determining whether the nudity is exploitation or art? In Darren Aronofsky's The WrestlerMarisa Tomei plays the role of an aging stripper, and the actress is, much like her character, Cassidy/Pam, fully exposed in the nude on the screen. The question is, in the context of the story, is it actually necessary for Tomei to be shown nude, or would the performance have had the same impact by implying nudity rather than showing it?

The film primarily follows the story of an aging wrestler, Randy "The Ram" Robinson (Mickey Rourke) as he faces health problems that may force him to give up wrestling, the one thing that sustains his otherwise lonely existence. By day he works in the storage warehouse of a supermarket, his long, bleached-blond, '80s rocker hair pulled back, answering to a wormy little boss who clearly disdains Randy's wrestling history. And of course, Randy could crush this boss with one well-executed Ram-Jam, but he needs the trickle of money his job provides to pay the rent on his shabby trailer, so he swallows his pride and slaps on a veneer of servitude in order to keep his job.

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