Why is this?
HBO President of Programming Michael Lombardo weighed in on the issue during an expansive Q&A with The Frame. After taking the blame for the disappointment of "True Detective" Season 2, the conversation turned to the popularity of "Game of Thrones." That turned to the subject of nudity, and why there are more naked women on TV than naked men.
(For example, "Game of Thrones" has shown us a lot of the ladies at Littlefinger's brothel, but when it comes to male nudity, they gave us ... Hodor. Plus, both Cersei and the High Septon had naked walks of shame, but the High Septon covered his private parts and we saw all of Cersei.)
Here's that portion of Lombardo's Q&A with The Frame:
Actresses I know have this expression, "It's not nudity, it's HBO."
[Laughter.] You know it's funny you say that because I'm often told that relative to other premium services, we don't have enough nudity. But here's the truth. I'm a gay guy. I don't particularly care about female nudity. We have never given a note to say, "More nudity." I think the truth is, when you're in certain worlds — we're very creative-friendly. If you're going to sign on for certain shows, that's part of the journey.
I think you can look at our primetime lineup. I can think of one show that has dabbled in naked bodies. It doesn't happen all the time. Certainly relative to broadcast network, absolutely — I think we're really pretty careful, conscientious, and honest about our use of nudity.
Look, we live in a puritanical society. I think the real issue is why actresses are saying that and not actors. And that is, by the way, a valid question, and I'll tell you why that is. Because white men produce the shows. And there is some kind of... I was screening recently a show we did. And the actress is running across the screen completely naked. And then the actor runs across the screen completely naked. And yet somehow it's pixelated, his genitalia. And I'm like, wait a second. Why is a man's genitalia so much more "verboten?" And if you ask guys, they're gonna go, "Well, you know, guys are sensitive about size and blah blah." And that's bulls**t. So hopefully, that's an argument you just made for diversity. Put a female showrunner on, trust me. It's gonna be equal opportunity.
It's an interesting perspective. Not sure a female showrunner would automatically go for more male nudity, though. Nudity only rarely has anything to do with the actual story, and mental/emotional connections are usually more of a turn-on than TV-simulated sex.
Not that there is no male nudity on TV. Christopher Eccleston went full frontal for this past season of HBO's "The Leftovers" -- it was brief and for a scene where he was doing more of his Job punishments, so it made sense in the moment and was not sexualized. But still. The Doctor got his lad out and no one batted an eye. "The Affair" and "Outlander" don't air on HBO but they too recently braved the world of male nudity. There's been more male nudity than ever, but the instances only stand out because they are rare compared to female exposure.
The gender issue is interesting to bring up, though, since there are more male showrunners and directors on TV -- especially in cable -- and the majority of shows lead from a heterosexual male POV. Why white, though? Yes, there are more white male showrunners than anything, but would the resulting nudity be different with a man of color in charge? Just something to chew on.
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