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Parental Advisory for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel


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I would find the plot interesting, but I just read the parental advisory section on Imdb and wonder why such things are necessary, and especially why it's not enough to merely hint at these things instead of showing them. No offense, I'm just interested.

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Top female nudity is shown briefly in season one.
A woman reveals her breasts very clearly twice for at least a couple seconds each time in one episode. In episode 3 season 2 there is very graphic male genital nudity in a drawing class. In episode one, they watch a show in which a woman is wearing only underwear and pasties, and one of the pasties flies off revealing her bare nipple.

 


Greetings,
Sandra

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1 hour ago, Sandra Merkatz said:

I would find the plot interesting, but I just read the parental advisory section on Imdb and wonder why such things are necessary, and especially why it's not enough to merely hint at these things instead of showing them. No offense, I'm just interested.

 

The problem with parental advisory notes on IMDB, BBFC etc... is they rob the situation of context. Perhaps making things seem more gratuitous then they are.

Of course films are sometimes over weighted to appeal to the male gaze and it serves no more purpose then appealing to that viewership, but at times and places it can serve valid character/story point. 

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1 hour ago, Phil Connolly said:

The problem with parental advisory notes on IMDB, BBFC etc... is they rob the situation of context. Perhaps making things seem more gratuitous then they are.

Of course films are sometimes over weighted to appeal to the male gaze and it serves no more purpose then appealing to that viewership, but at times and places it can serve valid character/story point. 

You're right, of course, that Imdb doesn't describe the context of each scene here, and that context certainly plays a role.
That's why I ask why it's important to see male genitals in the scene in question, for example. As a comparison, I can think of a scene from the series "Mr. Bean" where Bean is supposed to paint a naked female model, but he has great difficulty looking at her at all. The camera shows the model's naked back once, so you know she's naked. And this knowledge is enough for the viewer. It is not necessary to show the breasts or the intimate area.
I think that many production companies show naked skin only because they are allowed to or because of the fan service. I also think that movies and series are over-sexualized nowadays.
For example, in Stanley Kubrick's "Spartacus" there is a scene where the slave (played by Jean Simmons) is sent to Spartacus' cell. She undresses and stands there naked - but the camera only shows her head and bare shoulders. You know she is naked, you don't have to see it. In the modern series "Spartacus", felt gives extremely revealing sex scenes every 10 minutes, filmed with a voyeuristic camera.
Sir Michael Caine also advises actors not to shoot nude scenes, and especially full frontal nudity.

Can you give me 2 or 3 small examples where the filming of naked breasts or naked genitals was important for understanding the characters and the plot?

 

Greetings,
Sandra

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41 minutes ago, Sandra Merkatz said:

Can you give me 2 or 3 small examples where the filming of naked breasts or naked genitals was important for understanding the characters and the plot?

 

Sure, not wanting to derail the thread too much, it can work if it brings a sense of vulnerability to the character.. e.g the victims in "Under the skin", or the failed seduction scene in American Beauty. 

Same with theatre, I saw Kenneth Branagh do a nude scene in a 1000+ seater theatre for the Mamet play  "Edmond". It was really powerful both in the sense of shock factor and the characters descent into madness. That scene would not have had the same impact if Sir Ken kept his pants on. 

 

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Sure, not wanting to derail the thread too much,

I don't think that we are straying too far from the subject, because we are discussing whether such scenes in the series "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" are necessary and what use they have. But of course we can also outsource the discussion to a separate thread. :-)

 

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it can work if it brings a sense of vulnerability to the character.. e.g the victims in "Under the skin", or the failed seduction scene in American Beauty.

I think I understand what you mean, but can't this feeling of vulnerability also be conveyed if you don't show the audience breasts and/or genitals, but only hint that the character is naked?

In my "Spartacus" example, the slave also puts herself in a situation where she is at someone's mercy. She exposes herself to Spartacus - and as a spectator I have the feeling that she is vulnerable without the camera showing me her naked body. Instead, the camera shows her face, her facial expressions. Breasts have no facial expressions that can express feelings of fear, insecurity or vulnerability, but faces do.
 

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Same with theatre, I saw Kenneth Branagh do a nude scene in a 1000+ seater theatre for the Mamet play  "Edmond". It was really powerful both in the sense of shock factor and the characters descent into madness. That scene would not have had the same impact if Sir Ken kept his pants on.

But could one interpret this nude scene in such a way that Branagh has a problem with depicting the descent into madness using only acting means as well as costumes and sets, and therefore has to resort to such means?

 

Greetings,
Sandra

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If you actually watched the series, you'd find that there is a very much a LACK of nudity in the show.

In the pilot there is ONE shot with female nudity because that shocking act propels the entire story arc for the character and the whole series. If it had been hinted at discretely it would not have had the dramatic effect that pushed the character and story forward.

(OK, there is a bit of nudity glimpsed in some scenes set at a burlesque striptease theater as well.)

The show is not about using titillation to bring in viewers (however, the costumes do bring in a number of viewers, so wearing fabulous clothing is definitely the order of the day). But the humor (it IS a comedy after all) is for adults.

If "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is too racy for you, that's fine, but honestly it's a show that many grandmothers like to watch.

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If you actually watched the series, you'd find that there is a very much a LACK of nudity in the show.

Based on the description of the plot, I also think that this is not a soft porno à la "Game of Thrones", “Rome”, “The Borgias”, “Borgia”, “Sex Education”, “Spartacus”, just to name a few.
 

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In the pilot there is ONE shot with female nudity because that shocking act propels the entire story arc for the character and the whole series. If it had been hinted at discretely it would not have had the dramatic effect that pushed the character and story forward.

I have seen that the "scriptslug" page offers the script for the first episode. I have to read this script once to see if this scene exists there, and if so, how it is described. I have made the experience that some nude scenes are not in the script, but only appear in the film.

I find your explanation of this nude scene plausible, but I would like to bring a counter argument. You say: (underline by me):

"because that shocking act propels the entire story arc for the character and the whole series".

If I have understood this correctly, then a female character in a scene is naked, which has consequences for the further course of the plot. But if it's an incisive experience "for the character" - why do we, the audience, have to see her naked body as well?

Suppose they filmed her naked back, thus implying that she is naked. Wouldn't the viewer also have understood that this is an extremely embarrassing situation for the woman? Would the audience not understand her motivation until they had seen what her breasts looked like?

 

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If "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is too racy for you, that's fine, but honestly it's a show that many grandmothers like to watch.

I have no problem with the sight of naked bodies; in one of my favorite movies, "Bram Stoker's Dracula" there are a lot of naked breasts. But there they don't bother me, because the movie is conceived as an "erotic nightmare" and many things that happen there don't make sense. However, before I knew that Coppola conceived his film as a surreal erotic nightmare, I was also very critical of these nude scenes, because they didn't make any dramaturgical sense to me.

I'm very critical of movies and series because there's just too much fan service, and many productions show naked bodies and sex only because they're allowed to and not because it's important from an artistic point of view. Or it is shown because they want to "shock" the audience - which I find strange, because explicit pictures of nude and sex scenes have been around for thousands of years. That's why I question such scenes.

I want to ask you a question about my "Spartacus" (1960) example. If you don't know the movie or can't remember this scene, please forget my question. The slave takes off her clothes, but all you can see is her head and bare shoulders. Do you think it would have been better (if it was allowed) if the camera showed more of her body so you could understand her situation better?

Greetings,
Sandra

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Also in real life people can be naked and film can depict that.

Sometimes if you work too hard to obscure nudity, when the characters are naked, e.g through camera angle etc... It risks looking a bit Austin Powers and draws attention to the artifice of the situation:

austin.thumb.jpeg.afa6c459b3ee06656609bffa58cd005c.jpeg

Drawing greater attention to the nudity (although Austin Powers plays this for laughs).

The use of nudity in many films is only there for gratuitous reasons and objectifies the women typically in the cast. For instance there was some stuff in the early seasons of Game of Thrones that was pretty problematic. 

Art of course is subjective, we all have our own barometer about what we find acceptable.  In theatre you could argue that a nude performance is about as raw as acting gets, without the props or costume. You won't find actors like Ken Branagh stripping off for shock factor, it's about being vulnerable. Done right with the right actor and script its fine. I have of course seen plays that have attempted nudity for the wrong reasons and its nearly always embarrassing for both actors and audience alike. 

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More to the point, is there really any need for a justification? This is a textbook example of things that only have power because we give them that power.


I find the question of the meaning and intentions of a nude scene as interesting and important as the question of why a director uses a certain camera angle, why he omitted or added a certain dialogue, or why he uses a certain lighting.

 

Greetings,
Sandra

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2 hours ago, Sandra Merkatz said:

I find the question of the meaning and intentions of a nude scene as interesting and important as the question of why a director uses a certain camera angle, why he omitted or added a certain dialogue, or why he uses a certain lighting.

If you watch the pilot episode, then the dramatic context and reason to include it will become clear. It’s a huge character moment that shocks the audience, both in the show (because it’s considered obscene and lands her in jail) and of the show (because we didn’t realize her character was capable of doing that). It’s the climax of the pilot that jump-starts her career, and changes how she thinks of herself.

It’s also a hilarious punchline. But you know, comedy is visceral and you either find it funny or you don’t. My 76 year old mom laughed. My dad didn’t. 

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There’s also a running theme of the definition of obscenity in the pilot, portrayed by Lenny Bruce being repeatedly arrested on stage for testing the limits of free speech. And we know that historically this is the birth of modern comedy, which is more personal and political in nature than the vaudeville acts a generation before. So really, these things are integral not just to the plot but to the themes of the show.

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I have now read the script of the first episode. There are three parts that I find critical. The first scene takes place in a strip club.




INT. STRIP CLUB - CONTINUOUS

Joel and Midge sit at a sticky table watching a stripper gyrate on stage. She hits a twirling crescendo that sends one fringed tassel flying into the audience. The room APPLAUDS AND WHISTLES. She heads offstage. Midge rushes over, picks the pastie off the floor, runs up to the stage and waves it at the retreating stripper.

MIDGE
Excuse me! Miss? Miss?

The stripper turns and comes back.

STRIPPER
Thanks, Toots.

Why is it important for the pastie to detach itself from the breast? And is this part of the show or not? At least there's no stage direction here that specifically requires the camera to show the breasts. You could have shown the pastie flying through the air in close-up. Or how it lands on the ground, and when the stripper turns around and comes back, you could show her from behind. The viewer knows that the pastie belongs to the stripper and that she has obviously lost it.

I suppose she lost it by accident. Why can't she lose another part of her costume, e.g. a piece of her headgear, a ring, a ribbon, or something similar? Why does the screenwriter want her to have an exposed breast?



EXT. PARK - NIGHT

Joel is screwing Midge up against a tree.

JOEL
(mid screw)
You know what I want?

MIDGE
Please don’t say a virgin.

JOEL
I want to make you laugh every day of your life.

MIDGE
Okay, but you realize you said that while you’re still in me.

I find both the stage direction and the dialogue problematic here. Why are the words "screwing" and "mid screw" used here? Wouldn't it have been enough to say they were having sex? Why this vulgar expression in a stage direction?

And why does Midge say, "Okay, but you realize you said that while you're still in me"? Why doesn't she say "(...) while you still have sex with me"? Sounds like fan service to me. "Let's let Madge talk dirty. It's sexy."





Midge pulls down her straps and shows her boobs.

We hear gasps, cheers, a couple of boos, glasses crashing to the ground... it’s complete pandemonium. Susie’s riveted.

SUSIE
Oh, poop!

MIDGE
Now, seriously...
(she covers her face and stomach again leaving the boobs exposed)

... there’s no **(obscenity removed)** way Penny Pann can compete with these tits!

So this is the part where Midge shows her breasts. Why doesn't the screenwriter call them breasts? Again, there is no instruction that the camera shows her breasts; it is only implied that she shows her breasts to the audience.

I think, if one would have worked with insinuations here, too, then the viewer still knows that she is topless and can see from the reaction of the policemen who take her away that this is a scandal.

The screenwriter describes in detail the reaction of the audience, and also how strict the policemen are. Isn't the reaction of the audience as well as the policemen proof enough that Midge goes too far here?

Or in other words: the audience and the policemen in the series see her breasts and react to them in a certain way. That's how we, the audience in front of the TV, can see how drastic her behavior is. So we have all the information we need to understand the plot. So why is it important that I see her breasts as well? I think it is important that I see the reaction of the audience and the police officers.
Please don't get me wrong, I have nothing against this show. I generally question whether a nude or sex scene is necessary, and if it could be shot in another way and the viewer still knows what it's about. In the examples I mentioned I think that you could do without breasts or dirty talk and the viewer could still follow the plot and get all the important information.

Greetings,
Sandra

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Sounds like the show might not be to your taste. That's fine, but I think it's rather silly to continue arguing over the merits of the scene, especially if you haven't actually watched the show yet.

In my opinion, that's a bit like arguing whether a restaurant's pozole really needs to be that spicy because you read how many chiles are in their recipe, but you haven't actually tasted their food...

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Sounds like the show might not be to your taste. That's fine, but I think it's rather silly to continue arguing over the merits of the scene, especially if you haven't actually watched the show yet.

You wrote two posts I didn't respond to, and now you're claiming it's "rather silly" to discuss with me? You and I haven't had a discussion in this thread yet. The discussion has been factual and polite so far, and I would appreciate it if it stays that way. I take counter-arguments seriously, and I would like my arguments to be taken seriously as well.

I have taken the trouble to read the complete script and have thought about these three quoted scenes and explained why I think that these scenes could be filmed differently without losing the message.

So it's not, as you wrongly claim, about simple questions of taste, but about considerations of what the statement, the intention of the respective scene is and how it can be conveyed in an alternative way by cinematographic means.

Thank you.

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1 hour ago, Sandra Merkatz said:

You wrote two posts I didn't respond to, and now you're claiming it's "rather silly" to discuss with me? You and I haven't had a discussion in this thread yet. The discussion has been factual and polite so far, and I would appreciate it if it stays that way. I take counter-arguments seriously, and I would like my arguments to be taken seriously as well.

 

I have taken the trouble to read the complete script and have thought about these three quoted scenes and explained why I think that these scenes could be filmed differently without losing the message.

 

So it's not, as you wrongly claim, about simple questions of taste, but about considerations of what the statement, the intention of the respective scene is and how it can be conveyed in an alternative way by cinematographic means.

Thank you.

Ok, you win. Have a great day!

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I'd say give it a watch, its a really good show. Worth discussion from the perspective of blocking and camera movement, with some nice long takes. Then you can judge for yourself.

Scripts are only a template for a shoot, they are just a sketch of the finished result and shouldn't be judged in the same way as the finished media text. Context and delivery is everything, particularly in comedy. The same script could be shot in a way thats chaste, funny, sexy or sleazy and the choices that throw it one direction or another can be very subtle.  

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I find it regrettable that attempts are being made to stifle constructive criticism. Thank you, Phil Connolly, for addressing my criticism.
 

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I'd say give it a watch, its a really good show. Worth discussion from the perspective of blocking and camera movement, with some nice long takes. Then you can judge for yourself.

I have never denied that the show is good overall.  I only referred to the nude and sex scenes, which I think could have been filmed differently.  It's true that I didn't see the show, but I read the complete script of the first episode, and on Imdb there was talk about seeing breasts in the scenes in question.

A counter-argument was that these shots are necessary to convey a certain information to the viewer. Since I know, of course, that the context of a nude scene is important, I thought about what that information is, and then I thought about whether it could be transported in another way. I then communicated the result of my considerations.

I am not alone with my opinion that at least the topless scene is probably fan service.
On the TV-Tropes page https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/TheMarvelousMrsMaisel I found the following entry:

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Fanservice: During her first drunken act, Midge exposes her breasts to the audience as part of a joke, resulting in her first arrest.


 

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Scripts are only a template for a shoot, they are just a sketch of the finished result and shouldn't be judged in the same way as the finished media text.

I don't agree here. Woody Allen's scripts, for example, are bought and read like normal novels, and there is the "Best Screenplay" category at the Academy Awards.

Scripts often contain scenes that are missing in the finished film, and they often provide information about characters, locations, etc. that you don't get in the film.
There is even a separate category on this topic on tvtropes.org: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AllThereInTheScript
And often the stage directions contain hints about how a character thinks or why he or she acts in a certain way. But you can often tell from the language and expressions used what the author was about.


I recently read the screenplay for the horror comedy "Happy Death Day", and in it a nude scene of a female character named Tree is described as follows:

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EXT. THE CAMPUS - MORNING

Shot tastefully, Tree strolls down the thoroughfare COMPLETELY NAKED...

ANGLE ON -- THE STUDYING PAIR as they look up and see Tree. The sprinklers go off but they don’t even react because they’re too stunned.

ANGLE ON -- THE STUDENT PROTESTOR

STUDENT PROTESTER
Stop global war--

She sees Tree and pulls her clipboard back.

ANGLE ON -- THE FRAT PLEDGES who follow Tree’s naked body with shocked grins. So distracted are they, nobody notices when the exhausted brother passes-out.

It was important to the author that the camera is not voyeuristic, but that the nudity is tastefully filmed. There are no vulgar words, but also no judgmental adjectives like "hot", "sexy" etc.

The author describes the reaction of the people who are completely surprised to see the young woman completely naked. This reaction is important. So, the camera should indicate that the girl is naked through tasteful camera angles, and then we should see the reaction of the people. It's not necessary to see her naked body. One hint and the following reaction of the people is enough.

 

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Context and delivery is everything, particularly in comedy. The same script could be shot in a way thats chaste, funny, sexy or sleazy and the choices that throw it one direction or another can be very subtle.

I agree with you, and that's why I also thought about whether these scenes in the script could be filmed differently without losing the information they are supposed to convey.

 

Greetings,
Sandra

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8 hours ago, Sandra Merkatz said:

I find it regrettable that attempts are being made to stifle constructive criticism.

I think your “constructive criticism” is simply being criticised in return, not stifled.

And to be honest it doesn’t seem particularly constructive. Criticising something you haven’t even seen based on your apparent aversion to nudity and some vague parental warning site is hardly what I’d consider constructive, and the irony of you choosing to criticise a show where the few instances of nudity are actually pivotal dramatic plot points only reinforces the fact that you seem to have an agenda here. 

You have in fact been given a number of valid and thoughtful responses to your “criticisms”, but choose to continue arguing for some weird sort of return to the Hays code of the 1930s or something.

The truth is if you find the very occasional nudity in Mrs Maisel somehow inappropriate or lewd (had you even watched it), then you should simply stick to watching kids shows or Christian movies. It’s so far from warranting this sort of criticism that it’s almost laughable. There are plenty of other shows or movies where you could validly critique the objectification of bodies, or the impulse to titillate, all the way into the realm of pornography, but in all cases those were the choices of the filmmakers. Thankfully in this time and part of the world filmmakers are relatively free to make what they want, just as you can choose not to watch that sort of fare. Attempting to lecture filmmakers into self-censorship to meet your own conservative tastes is never going to be well received, and let’s be clear - your ideas about “tasteful nudity” are entirely subjective. 

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Your whole posting assumes I'm conservative. I'm not. I condemn the Hays Code, and even know a good website where pre-code movies are presented and discussed.

As you can see from my earlier mentioned "Dracula" example, the sight of naked bodies does not bother me. What does bother me is any kind of fan service. For me, fan service means showing things that are not necessary for understanding the plot and the characters, and only serve to please the viewer. When I see such fan service scenes, I always think to myself that if I want to see naked bodies, there are special websites for that.
I think that Sir Michael Caine is right when he advises actors not to do full frontal nudity scenes.


 

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I think your “constructive criticism” is simply being criticised in return, not stifled.

No. Some users did not respond to my arguments at all, but tried to stop my critical questions.

And I think that my criticism was quite constructive, because I stayed objective, mentioned my sources and justified my opinion as good as I could.

 

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And to be honest it doesn’t seem particularly constructive. Criticising something you haven’t even seen based on your apparent aversion to nudity and some vague parental warning site is hardly what I’d consider constructive, and the irony of you choosing to criticise a show where the few instances of nudity are actually pivotal dramatic plot points only reinforces the fact that you seem to have an agenda here.

Like I said, that is wrong. If you've read my postings, then you should know what I'm about, and that I have no "agenda".

But I'll gladly explain it again as a short version: I've studied the script, the story and the characters, and I've thought about what the scenes I quoted want to say. And then I thought about whether this message could be conveyed in another way.

You say: "your apparent aversion to nudity and some vague parental warning site". That you accuse me of "apparent aversion to nudity" proves to me that you didn't read my postings in this thread, because in fact I said exactly the opposite. And the references to nudity on Imdb served me merely as a source for the fact that there are naked breasts in these scenes. You criticize that I allegedly don't consider the context of nude scenes (which is not true), but you tear out some points of my argumentation from their context. The reference to the parental warnings was only a small part of my argumentation.

 

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You have in fact been given a number of valid and thoughtful responses to your “criticisms”, but choose to continue arguing for some weird sort of return to the Hays code of the 1930s or something.

That too is wrong and an insinuation based on false assumptions about me.

 

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The truth is if you find the very occasional nudity in Mrs Maisel somehow inappropriate or lewd (had you even watched it),

Meanwhile, I've seen the scene where Midge takes her clothes off during a performance. The camera always films the actress from a distance, so you can always see her breasts. I would have found the faces of the audience more interesting. For me, the sight of the breasts is not necessary; I think it would have been enough to show Midge from behind taking off her top and the shocked faces of the audience. I also found it striking how many women were sitting in the audience, and I think it could also be fan service that several women were looking at a half-naked woman on stage, because if I remember correctly, there was nothing in the script about how many women were sitting in the audience.

 

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Thankfully in this time and part of the world filmmakers are relatively free to make what they want, just as you can choose not to watch that sort of fare.

I go to the opera very often, and often there is an audience discussion with the director and the actors directly before or after the premiere of a new production. In this conversation, questions are asked and the director explains his intentions, etc.

Sometimes the director is also asked critical questions, which are politely phrased. And the director also answers these questions. So what is wrong with asking critical questions and explaining your point of view? I am an open-minded person and want to understand things. But some people seem to see constructive criticism as a personal attack.

 

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Attempting to lecture filmmakers into self-censorship to meet your own conservative tastes is never going to be well received, and let’s be clear - your ideas about “tasteful nudity” are entirely subjective. 

What "ideas about tasteful nudity" are these? I quoted another script that said that the screenwriter wanted the nudity to be filmed in tasteful, not voyeuristic, fashion.

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I don't have anything to add on the nudity debate. 

But screenplays are not literature in the same way as novels are... Too much can(and usually does) change in between the writing of a screenplay and the finished film. Screenplays are not written to be read as finished works, they are working documents that filmmakers use to plan their film productions. 

Sure screenplays are published as books and they have an audience for the fans of the film/filmmaker and they are really useful for studying film. If your learning to write screenplays its very important that you read screenplays.  Not all published screenplays are the actual "production screenplay" some are transcribed from the finished film to match it.

Yes there are Oscars for "Best Screenplay" , but again its not wholly judged on the merits of the screenplay. Only completed films are entered into the category and as such it would be impossible to  judge separately. It it were truly "best screenplay" they would plow through the black list and include unproduced screenplays as well.

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9 hours ago, Sandra Merkatz said:

Your whole posting assumes I'm conservative. I'm not. I condemn the Hays Code, and even know a good website where pre-code movies are presented and discussed.

As you can see from my earlier mentioned "Dracula" example, the sight of naked bodies does not bother me. What does bother me is any kind of fan service. For me, fan service means showing things that are not necessary for understanding the plot and the characters, and only serve to please the viewer. When I see such fan service scenes, I always think to myself that if I want to see naked bodies, there are special websites for that.


Sandra, your entire argument about fan service and pleasing the viewer and ‘if I want to see naked bodies there are special websites for that‘, all assumes that outside of what you consider essential dramatic context the naked human form is only to be looked at for titillation, that if a glimpse of breast or buttock is shown without being somehow necessary to the plot (or even if it is, as in the Maisel example) it is therefore gratuitous. I would call this a conservative outlook. Beyond the context of the script, nudity can foster a sense of intimacy or shared human vulnerability with a character, it can be beautiful or fragile or liberating, as well as erotic or gratuitous. At its core, it is simply how we are, our natural selves. 

The human body has long been objectified and various parts deemed off limits, a demarcation that seems to always stem from a fear of sexuality. In certain cultures and periods in history just showing female hair is and was an erotic act. What parts of the body do you consider ok to show without crossing into “pleasing the viewer”? Are Tarantino’s numerous foot shots gratuitously appealing to foot fetishists?  How much of a breast can be visible before it becomes titillating?  Is showing a naked male torso equally problematic if it has no other motivation than to appeal to the viewer?  Isn’t simply having attractive actors a form of “fan service”? Should we demand more plain looking people, since the script doesn’t always require an attractive lead? There are websites I can go to if I just want to look at attractive people..

But beyond all this, if an actor is ok with it (an important distinction) what’s actually wrong with displaying their body sometimes in order to please an audience? If we look past personal preferences or questions of taste, why is that sort of audience pleasing worse than showing off sumptuous outfits, or pleasing them with a happy ending that wouldn’t exist in real life, or pleasing them with over the top violence or the promotion of revenge as a valid response to trauma? Why are you singling out nudity? (And why in a thread about Mrs Maisel, which is really quite tame in that regard?)

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What are we discussing again? Hahaha I saw Brad Pitt's body in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood mote than once. I think we should shun the movie and ask the filmmakers to attend the nearest film school so they know better next time. Haha. Absurd at best sorry.

Edited by Giray Izcan
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Sandra, your entire argument about fan service and pleasing the viewer and ‘if I want to see naked bodies there are special websites for that‘, all assumes that outside of what you consider essential dramatic context the naked human form is only to be looked at for titillation, that if a glimpse of breast or buttock is shown without being somehow necessary to the plot (or even if it is, as in the Maisel example) it is therefore gratuitous. I would call this a conservative outlook.

I don't think it's a conservative view if you want naked skin to be shown only if it contributes to the understanding of the plot and the characters, and you're not interested in fan service.

I admit my definition of fan service was not the best. On the above mentioned website tvtropes.org there is a definition that I find more appropriate.

"The use of sex or sexualized situations to reward or entice viewers. While the specific term ´fanservice´ arose from the anime community, the concept is far, far older. Most fanservice is seldom explicit or graphic—that is the territory of pornography. Instead, it uses sexuality or hints at sex often in a funny or comedic way to tease and titillate the audience. (…) Some shows may have designated fanservice characters: characters who, even if they are main characters and have a role beyond fanservice, are likely to end up in a fanservicey situation."

And I am of the opinion that the nude scenes I quoted fall into this category; an opinion that I have justified at length.

I would like to give a counter-example to show when I consider the sight of naked breasts to be important from a dramaturgical point of view.

The 1985 film "Desert Hearts" is about a lesbian love story. Towards the end of the film, the main actress is alone in her hotel room. There she is visited by the woman she met during the film and they talk to each other. The phone rings and the main character is on the phone. After the conversation is over, the woman turns around, the camera pans to the side with her, and both she and we see the other woman sitting topless in bed.

In this case, I found the showing of the half-naked actress dramatically justified, because just like the main character, we too are surprised by this unexpected sight. We do not see the woman undressing, we only see the main character making a phone call. When we see the second woman again, she suddenly wears no more clothes.

The special thing now is that the camera leaves it at that shot. In the next scenes you see the second woman sitting naked in bed, just from the shoulders upwards. The camera no longer shows her breasts, because it is dramaturgically no longer necessary to see them. It was only necessary in one shot so that we can understand the surprise of the main character. From the fact that the camera no longer shows "them", we can also see that this one shot actually only had a dramaturgical function.

Of course, I thought about whether the scene could have been filmed differently - but I think that this (brief!) view is necessary to be able to understand the surprise of the main character, especially since the camera does not move independently, but moves along with the main character. If, for example, the naked woman had been filmed from behind and only hinted that she was naked, the viewer would no longer have been surprised together with the main character, but would have taken the position of the naked woman, so to speak.

I was also glad that others noticed this way of filming the scene. On the mentioned TV-Tropes website the scene is not mentioned in the category "fan service" but "Reveal Shot".

I quote the entry:

......................
Reveal Shot: A memorable one. After Vivian has left the ranch and gone to live by herself in a casino hotel room, Cay comes to visit her. Upset at how Frances treated her, Vivian vents her anger to Cay and the camera follows her into another room while she's talking and looking for a cigarette. She finds one and lights one, while still talking to Cay in the other room.

Vivian: I don't have a habit of raising my voice. Or false issues. [smokes; glumly] When I retire, I will simply write short stories for my revenge about this town, these people, these gamblers. [Beat, to herself] My only clear memory is arriving. The rest is a blur...absolute blur.

[She walks back into the bedroom and finds that Cay is now completely naked and sitting up in bed, looking at her]
......................

A "Reveal Shot" that serves the story and the understanding of the surprise of the main character.
 

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Beyond the context of the script, nudity can foster a sense of intimacy or shared human vulnerability with a character, it can be beautiful or fragile or liberating, as well as erotic or gratuitous. At its core, it is simply how we are, our natural selves.

I couldn't agree more. As I said, it doesn't bother me if a character is naked, but only if you film it in a way that isn't dramaturgically necessary, and in the worst case is pure fan service. So the question that arises for me is how to film nudity.
 

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The human body has long been objectified and various parts deemed off limits, a demarcation that seems to always stem from a fear of sexuality. In certain cultures and periods in history just showing female hair is and was an erotic act. What parts of the body do you consider ok to show without crossing into “pleasing the viewer”?

I have no problems with any body parts, you can show everything. As mentioned above, I am not concerned with not showing any particular body parts, but only with whether it makes sense to show them from a dramaturgical point of view.
 

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How much of a breast can be visible before it becomes titillating?  Is showing a naked male torso equally problematic if it has no other motivation than to appeal to the viewer?  Isn’t simply having attractive actors a form of “fan service”?

"Attractive" is a subjective term. I think the question is rather whether someone was cast because of their looks, or because of their acting talents.

It also depends on the roles. When bad guys in a western look like supermodels, it seems strange to me, and then I suspect that they were cast primarily for marketing reasons.

(In recordings of operas this is unfortunately also common: Studios often don't select singers who are suitable for a role, but singers who are famous and whose name attracts many buyers).
 

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But beyond all this, if an actor is ok with it (an important distinction) what’s actually wrong with displaying their body sometimes in order to please an audience?

I don't think it's "wrong", I think it's just unnecessary. Because if I notice that the camera shows me things only for this reason, then I don't feel taken seriously by the producers. Then I have the feeling that they want to manipulate me. That they assume that I "need" such things.

I watch a film to see a story, and not voyeuristically staged naked bodies. (If I want to see something like that, there are other ways, I don't need a movie with a plot). If there is nudity in a story, then I expect it to be staged in such a way that it is part of the narrative of the story. That the way it is filmed also serves the story. That I as a viewer get information about the characters, their feelings and about the plot from the way it is filmed - and not information about how great an actor's breasts and ass look.
 

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If we look past personal preferences or questions of taste, why is that sort of audience pleasing worse than showing off sumptuous outfits, or pleasing them with a happy ending that wouldn’t exist in real life, or pleasing them with over the top violence or the promotion of revenge as a valid response to trauma? Why are you singling out nudity?

Over the top violence I also find unnecessary, as well as sumptuous outfits, if they only serve to please the audience.
 

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(And why in a thread about Mrs Maisel, which is really quite tame in that regard?)

I suggested at the beginning of the discussion that you can also outsource this discussion to a separate thread. But still it's about the scenes in this series.
 


Greetings,
Sandra

Edited by Sandra Merkatz
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