What’s the Difference?

Most of you are probably aware we live in an increasingly digital age where things may not always be as they seem.  There was a movie made a few years back called Wag the Dog about a war that was ‘faked’.  Using technology, all the appearances of a foreign war were given, even though no such war actually was being conducted.  That theme has stuck in my head quite a bit (despite never having seen the movie!), particularly given our ability today to make what isn’t, seem like it is.

Special effects are nothing new.  Realistic monsters, villains, atrocities and mysteries have been stock in trade of the film industry pretty much from the beginning.  It’s the nature – and some might even argue the intent – of projected/televised media to distort, to alter, to modify.  All this is well and good.  You pay your money and you get your ticket with the more or less full knowledge that you’re going to be deceived for a little while.  It’s an essential element to the movie-going experience called the willing suspension of disbelief.  If you aren’t willing to treat something pretend as something real for the purpose of entertainment, then it isn’t possibly going to be entertaining.  The critical issue becomes not whether or not the show violates certain aspects of believability, but whether it does so convincingly or effectively or for a worthy enough purpose.
Ok, back to the issue at hand.
The link at the end of this sentence contains an image that probably isn’t safe for the workplace or children or anyone who would be offended by implied nudity.   I would have preferred an article that didn’t include the image, but the image is fairly critical to the point of the article and this essay, so I hope you’ll forgive the questionable tastefulness.
Jessica Alba is an attractive actress who has made the somewhat unusual vow to never do a fully nude scene in a movie.  That’s fairly refreshing from a popular actress in a culture where nudity at one level or another is de rigueur  for attractive actresses in certain age ranges.  The question becomes, if you’ve said you won’t do a nude scene, but you allow a director to utilize digital technology to remove the clothing you were filmed in so that you appear to be nude, is there a difference?  
What, in other words, is the point of a vow such as Alba’s?  Why go to the trouble of making the statement that you won’t take your clothes off if you’re going to give the impression of taking your clothes off?   It would seem that the issue is not nudity itself.  Alba apparently is fine with appearing nude, so long as she doesn’t have to actually be naked herself in the process.  Logically, it seems that she is fine with people looking at her naked as long as she was never really naked to begin with.  It’s the reality of being filmed naked that’s important, rather than the reality of being viewed naked.  As long as she can point to certain areas of skin and say that’s not really my skin, then it doesn’t matter if it looks like it’s her skin.  And lots of it.
The issue doesn’t appear to be an ethical or moral one in a broad sense.  Alba doesn’t seem to be making the statement that she feels that appearing nude is wrong or improper.  She doesn’t seem to be advocating against women being exploited for their bodies in this way in films in general.  In fact, she’s making the statement that appearing nude is just fine.  It’s the actual being nude that’s problematic – and that seems to be more of a personal issue than.  
Is there a difference?  If you don’t like the thought of people seeing you naked, should you have a problem with people thinking that they’re seeing you naked?  Particularly if you haven’t really gone out of your way to explain that you weren’t really naked to begin with?   

One Response to “What’s the Difference?”

  1. Wag the Dog | Living Apologetics Says:

    […] yet to see this movie yet, despite thinking about it over the years.  I remember thinking at the time it came out that it was a brilliant concept, and a frighteningly […]

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