Could it be that we are more reserved than were those living four hundred years ago? A.C. Grayling, a professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, claims that this is a "more prudish age" than that of the second Earl of Rochester. Johnny Depp portrays Rochester, an immoral celebrity of 17th Century England, in the new film The Libertine

While giving a short biography of the scandalously offensive member of Charles II's court in The Independent, Grayling considers the upcoming film and its unlikelihood of suitably representing the man (infamous for wicked satires, a dirty mouth, extreme lechery, pedophilic homosexuality, and violent dueling) or the period in which he lived. He writes, "However good the film is, and however many X-ratings it gets, it can never capture all the truth about Rochester...not all his doings can be reprised on the cinema screen."

Unfortunately the prof never addresses what actual doings couldn't be fit for 21st Century audiences and I have trouble pondering taboos that are still too heavy for film. Sure today there is a conservative religious presence that may take more offense with Rochester than did his contemporaries, but then again the Puritans came out of the same era as the Earl and the Libertine movement. Meanwhile the more open-minded minority of the present has a tolerance for pretty much anything. If Rochester were alive today, would he still be considered the most lewd of the land? Not in a time of Paris Hilton, Johnny Knoxville and Pete Doherty (fittingly of a band called The Libertines).