In Defense of Nudity in Film: 7 Quick Takes XIII

by | May 24, 2013 | 7 Quick Takes, Doctor Who, Great Moments in Homeschooling | 15 comments

— 1 —
A pregnant lady at rest stays at rest and a pregnant lady in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced toddler.
— 2 —

Great Moments in Homeschooling . . . 

The husband to a boy on Betty and Bobby’s soccer team:  You’re homeschooled, right?  So are Betty and Bobby.
Boy: Oh, that makes sense.  I noticed they said “library” right.

— 3 —

While planning Jack’s The Mysterious Benedict Society-themed birthday party, I ended up on this anagram-generator.  

It was there I discovered that “Clint Eastwood” is an anagram of “Old West Action.”


mind = blown

So I wondered, are ALL anagrams so full of truth and wisdom?  You be the judge.

Catholic All Year = Chaotically Real
                    A Coach Literally
                    Archaic Alley Lot

Conversion Diary = A Corny Diversion
                   Scary Indoor Vein
                   Noisy Over Rancid

A Knotted Life = Deaf Tone Kilt
                 Faked Toe Lint
                 Kid Tale Often 

Mama Needs Coffee = Madame Fences Foe
                    Cafe Deafens Memo
                    Same Dame Offence

If you head over there with your own blog name, but sure to tell us what you find out your blog is actually about in the comments.


— 4 —

Dear California Government,

I don’t think you understand what a REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY is. It’s supposed to mean that we elect YOU to research and vote on things because the rest of us have other responsibilities and that’s what we are paying you for.  But since you DON’T seem to get that, I got to spend MY free time researching the THREE DIFFERENT marijuana propositions that were on the ballot yesterday.  Plus, I get pestered by hippies outside Target who want me to sign their petitions (connecting the dots there).

Please stop wasting my time.



— 5 —

I wrote a post on why I teach my kids to make excuses for other people.  Megan Mella, in the comments of that post, directed my attention to the following totally awesome 2005 commencement speech by the late David Foster Wallace which pretty much says everything I said in my post, but much more poetically and with considerably more production value.  I considered just editing the post to be nothing but a link to his YouTube video, but then I thought, “That would be a LOT of holding down the backspace key.”  So I’m just going to keep my post and put the YouTube video here.  It’s less than 10 minutes long, and it really is great. 





— 6 —

More from the comments . . . In last week’s 7 Quick Takes, I recommended Looper despite it’s bit of nudity, because I think it’s a smart movie with a great message. I was challeged (quite pleasantly) in the comments to defend the morality of nudity ever being in movies.  (Side note, I didn’t realize it at the time, but I know the commenter and her husband who makes totally awesome movies
in real life, which was a great reminder to always be polite in the comments!)

Since perhaps you don’t always check back to see if I’ve added any comments to my earlier posts, I thought I’d put it here too:


Okay, I’ve had a couple of days to think about it and look
into it and I’m going to get to continue to disagree with you, but now at least
I know why.
As Catholics, we need not immediately dismiss as immoral all
works of art containing nudity. The great works of art in the Sistine Chapel
(re-nuded at the request of Blessed Pope John Paul II) and St. Peter’s itself
attest to that.
Neither does it being in a film rather than a painting or
statue make it necessarily immoral, since films included on the 1995 Vatican
Film List include nudity in both sexual and non-sexual contexts.
Nor does the consideration of workers in the film industry
make all nudity in film immoral since there are other professions, like doctor, which may include seeing nudity as part of the job.
It comes down to: is the nudity meant only to titillate or
is it meaningful? Even if that meaning is to show how debased a character has
become, which is how I believe it functions in Looper.


Stephen Greydanus has a great article at Decent Films (my
personal favorite review site) on The Vatican Film List, which covers this and
other related topics.


— 7 —
I took a week off from Doctor Who-related quick takes.  But I wouldn’t want you to think I have abandoned the Doctor.  Far from it.  In fact, I finished Season 6, which is the most recent season available on Netflix, and since I don’t have cable I’m faced with the proposition of not being able to watch Season 7 for who knows how long!  And I’ve become such a junkie that I’ve started watching the Classic Doctor Who episodes.
So far, the fact that I’m still watching is nothing but a testament to how much I want to hide in my room during naptime, because the classic episodes are NOT super-awesome.
I’ve watched the few episodes they have of the First and Second Doctors and have started in on the Third Doctor, who looks exactly like Dustin Hoffman dressed up as Austin Powers for Halloween.
And the young lady “companions” seem to be there only to wear ridiculous clothes, emit ear-drum-shattering screams at aliens, and tell the Doctor how brilliant he is.
I do want to keep watching, but only because it’s cool to see the earlier incarnations of the villains and adventures that the newer Doctors have faced.  I like to “get” the shows I watch.  But can anyone tell me:  Is it worth the lameness?  Do the costumes and plots and acting abilities get any better?  Are Doctors Four through Eight an improvement?
I’m thinking about just moving on to Sherlock.  Since, pop-culture-wise, I mostly just do what Bonnie says.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


  1. Jenny

    Definitely switching over the madame fences foes. Foes being toddler bodily fluids and waves of exhaustion. Though, I have been trying mighty hard to make excuses for the littles, too, and I must say, it makes a day more tolerable. Getting espesh proficient at making tutti excuses for my many non-English speaking neighbors who don't brake for strollers. It really does help.

  2. Marquette

    That anagram creator is fun! For Pinstrosity I found Pin Its Story and Pin Sit Story.

  3. Amelia

    Ha..that anagram creator. that anagram creator. I put in my blog One Catholic Mama (just a general Catholic mommy blog) and got these gems.

    Anatomical Chemo
    Melanoma Chaotic
    A Mechanical Moot

  4. Colleen

    I love the generator, so clever. For Martin Family I got Main Arm Fitly, and My Fit Anal Rim (what?)

  5. Athanasius Contra Mundum

    It definitely takes a turn for the better with Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor). Also, Season 7 starts and ends awesome. The middle episodes are rather lame.

  6. Anonymous

    All this talk of Dr. Who…we may have to check it out this summer since we are caught up on Downton Abbey. Our boys didn't seem too interested, however, they did watch Sherlock and our 13 yo, said he felt like crying on the last episode (no spoiler) and was surprised at how quickly he invested emotionally in a character.

  7. Bonnie

    Loved #6! I'll need to read Steven's article later.

    And I'm glad you brought up the old Doctor Who episodes. Even watching the first episode with the 9th Doctor was a little painful after I finished season 6 on Netflix. I don't know if I want to go back in time. (har har)

    And, yes, you should watch Sherlock. Basically it'll be like watching 6 movies – I think each episode is about 90 minutes. They are SO GOOD.

    I hope "Deaf Tone Kilt" isn't the internet's way of saying I have bad taste in music! 😉


  8. Hannah

    The reason I find nudity in films problematic hold for paintings and statue as well. There *is* a difference of degree between painting-nudity and film nudity, in that painting nudity is 2nd degree representation and may or may not have required the services of a naked model, where film always does. In art, I am still uncomfortable with the nude model transaction (you should read the cameo on Michael D. O'Brien's novel Sophia House of a nude model's perspective, btw a great book)

    You are right that not all naked paintings/movies are created equal. Even as a child, when I read my way through art books, and the feelings I got from them were different, e.g. Manet's Olympia and Delacroix's nudes felt way creepier or exploited then say, Reubens or Degas'. But what differentiates art from porn? It would probably take books to explain, though I suspect the line is drawn in a slightly different place for everyone. Especially on average for guys more than girls. While I agree with you that intent has a lot to do with the outcome (I suspect one of the big differences between Manet and Degas, Manet was a happily a player, while Degas was a grump that seemed to feel the prostitutes pain) I think the damage done to the models (or the weaker brother viewing the end product) shouldn't be dismissed. I'll never forget, watching the uncut verstion of Andre Rublev, enjoying it immensely, till the orgy with the naked people running around, and the less-than-fully-clothed Masha trying to kiss Andre. Whatever good point the movie was making, the fact stood that they had naked men and women doing things with eachother on camera. It was like making people do bad things so you could condemn it, a sting operation gone wrong. Whatever good spiritual effects teh movie was saying (and I LOVED the plot I finished reading on a plot summary, as I couldn't finish the movie after the orgy) I felt like was offset by what temptations or humiliations that the actors went through. Because actors are people. With feelings. And temptations. And real thoughts.
    I felt like to finish the movie would be taking part in their exploitation.

    It's true doctors need to see people naked. But that is a matter of life and death, of health and disease. But movie audiences don't need to see people naked with the same kind of necessity. For movie audiences, its more optional, we opt to (most plot points with nakedness can be accomplished offscreen and hinted at etc) Most of us would be creeped out if our doctors elected to see us naked when it was optional. We only want them to see us naked when its really really necessary.
    Which comes down to the crux of the matter for me. 'Most of us'. I never really thought about nakedness that much, until someone that I really cared about fell on hard times and experimented with being a stripper. It hurt. Then it really hit me.
    Being naked, and who you choose to be naked before, is a sacred choice, is an opening of oneself, is a declaration of vulnerability, of showing yourself in a way you don't to everyone.
    I think it comes down to, what nakedness is. Its super-personal, vulnerable person. When that vulnerablity,that beauty, that openness, is for sale (in proffessional nude models for paintings, or movies, etc) something feels 'off'. Something sacred is being pawned off for cheap. Behind every naked role is a real person, perhaps with a father or a mother or children or a future spouse, who will feel pain over that personal becoming public, that sacred pearl being trampled by the pigs, by people in who knows what state to watch it later. (not everyone will see it as dispassionately as it was intended). How would I feel about a movie, with a good point, in which my daughter had to act a role naked? It leaves me uneasy about watching someone else's daughter, someone else's mom, someone else's little sister/friend/wife…..

  9. Hannah

    Sorry for all that rambling. And for being preachy and know-it-all. (btw I really like your website, and how you analyze movies and things)

    At the end of all that, I still don't know how I feel about nudity in film. I am very uncomfortable with it, but ironically enough, only really with female nudity. (I never gave much thought to the whole male nudity thing, other than I much prefer greek statue with the fig leaves on.) I guess because a naked girl feels so…vulnerable?
    The end of the Passion didn't bother me. The ending cinematic of StarCraft2 Wings of Liberty moved me deeply, the woman is understood to be naked, though the camera, and mist, keep the story focused on her vulnerability and rebirth, and keeps her (mostly) teenage-boy playing audience focused on that. The questions of the actress didn't trouble me as it was CGI. I guess if there was female nudity in film, I would prefer camera crops, and the actress to have some covering so she is not in fact, having to be naked in front of other actors and camera men who are seeing the uncropped version….or something. One of my pipe dreams is to be a director, so I spent a lot of time wondering how much sin (if any) were permissable in making a movie. Case in point, my pipe dream is to one day make a movie of St. Joan of Arc, and one of the problems I ran up against in script writing class, was swearing. The soldiers swore their heads off, and Joan reprimanded them, and got one famous swearer in particular, not to swear. It was a character scene, and I wanted to establish the kind of gritty world she was coming into to change (mercernaries, prostitution, lots and lots of swearing) but after writing all medieval swear words into the script (many making light of God and the saints) I wondered of St. Joan herself would dissaprove of me making my actors do what she stopped the soldiers from doing. I still don't have a good answer, though I did end up leaving the curse words in.
    I guess with female nudity in particular, it bothers me….
    And in most cases where its shown, for a non-titillating purpose (e.g. to show degradation, or vulnerability, etc) I think the purpose would be more clearly served with implied nudity and camera crops/mist/objects blocking certain things, etc. Because we were built (especially young men) to be turned on by certain things….meant ofcourse for marriage and the propogation of the human race….while most men might be able to see it for the point (degradation/vulnerability) there is a serious non zero chance it won't come off that way for everyone. Thusly, I think camera crops and hidden clothing behind them, keeps everything more to the point, keeps the (non-sensual) plot points non sensual for everyone, not just the rational.
    (And I totally agree with you about some fully clothed PG-13 stuff being worse, for women at least)

    Sorry for being know-it-all and bombastic. I really really like your site, and that you think things through and have reasons for things.
    Thank you for writing this article. It made me think.
    God bless, Hannah

    • Kendra Tierney

      Hannah, thanks for your thoughts!

      The points that you bring up are all valid and should be considered by actors and filmmakers and moviegoers.

      However, I still feel strongly that nudity CAN be an important tool in film and I feel confident in trusting the opinion of the magisterium and soon (very soon!) to be Saint John Paul II.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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