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Viennese Gag on Big Strudels

A poster campaign advertising ‘Nude Men’ (“a long overdue exhibition on the diverse and changing depictions of naked men from 1800 to the present”) at the Leopold Museum in Vienna seems to have aroused the passions of the local phalliban.

I thought the Austrians, like the nut-brown Germans I spied on in Corfu when I was on a family holiday there as a kid, were very laid back about nudity. But it seems, like the organisers of the exhibition, I was very much mistaken.

From Time’s newsfeed:

“We didn’t realise that many, many people would be really upset or really angry in a way that we are also afraid about security, about protection of the visitors of the museum” explained Klaus Pokorny, a spokesperson for the museum, as quoted in Reuters. “Many people told us that they wanted to or had to protect their children,” he added about the response to the naked advertisements. “Some had warned that if we won’t cover it they would go there with a brush and they would cover it with color. Already somebody did that.”

The museum has capitulated and agreed to cover up the big strudels with red strips of paper – in other words, to deface the images themselves. Including a famous photo by Pierre & Gilles called Vive la France, which shows three football players wearing socks in blue, white and red and… big grins. (An image which for some reason Time doesn’t reproduce – so I’ve done so below.)

“We are not really happy about the situation,” said Mr. Pokorny about the changes. “You always hope that we have made progress, that we are now in the 21st century.”

 Tip: David S

11 thoughts on “Viennese Gag on Big Strudels”

  1. Ha ha ha, the word vulva is funny.

    I think, despite the hilarity of the word, there is a huge discrepancy between equating female genitalia with male genitalia. To view the “ins and outs”, er “ins and ins” of female genitalia requires a spread’em approach, whereas any picture of a naked male has some obvious (and quite alluring) attributes.

    So let’s not equate male nudity with female nudity and expect an equivalent level of “disclosure”. And although I haven’t seen any of the movies you mention moonist, I would suggest that the amount of male nudity is not equal to the amount of female nudity (with the latter being much more exposed).

    Am I sounding like an “Are You Being Served” episode????

    So if we were to look at equal exposure of internal bits, I think the amount of female vulvi (vulvases? vulveens? plenty of vulva?) equals the amount of gay male sphincters, i.e. none, in popular culture.

    But the amount of female pubic hair and boobies in comparison to manly jiggly bits? A huge discrepancy, in favour of the gals.

    And for the record, I like writing vulva….. its a surprisingly refreshing word. Hey, some of my best friends have vulvas!

  2. “Only 992 to go.… Don’t for­get to include TV shows. Kidding!”

    “How­ever you did say they were ubiq­ui­tous.”

    I did say that, and I’m absolutely correct. How many examples do you need before you’ll stop ignoring the obvious and stop making the ridiculous claim that male nudity is this great cultural taboo? Really, I want to know.

    “This blog is not a porno­graphic site, alas. So a sin­gle, small un-erect arty penis was enough to get it threat­ened with dele­tion by one of the largest web­hosts in the US. ”

    You’re missing my point. The fact is, you have plenty of options with regards to webhosts based in the US. It isn’t american prudery that put your website in jeopardy; it’s that you didn’t properly read the terms and conditions. What webhost were you using?

    “Thanks for finally pro­vid­ing a link for your claim that it’s all down to the Mus­lims, though the report you cite seems rather con­fused on this point – and con­tra­dicts some of your other, more per­ti­nent, claims about male and female nudity.”

    Nice passive-aggressive use of the word “finally” as if you’d been continuously hounding me for a source. And the “report” is from the Associated Press, which means if you google mentions of this story, 90% will be straight copies or paraphrases of or commentaries on the AP text.

    And it doesn’t contradict me at all. Notice that, as an example, the article points to lingerie ads featuring HALF-NAKED women as evidence of comparable female nudity. People don’t even regard half-naked men as “nudity” at all. And that’s the crux of the matter. People claim there’s so much less male nudity in the media, but that’s only because there are fewer male body part that people even consider to be nudity in the first place. Male nudity=penis. Female nudity=nipples, ass, bush, and twat. When people say there’s less male nudity, what they mean is that there less exposed penis than exposed female breasts. It’s that ridiculous assumption that needs to be corrected.

    “Though it seems there were quite a few Chris­t­ian objec­tions to its, er, erec­tion – and its clas­si­cal (i.e. tiny) mod­esty had to be pro­tected with trees:”

    Thanks for providing an a webpage with a vague claim about some sort of controversy without any actual sources. And the statue was erected in 1971, so I guess, according to you, Outer Bumfuck, USA is about forty years ahead of Vienna in tolerance of nudity in the arts.

    Finally, I’ve noticed that you haven’t once tried to dispute my point that female nudity is far more taboo than the male variety with examples. I ask again: where are all the vulvas in popular entertainment? If male nudity is so taboo, why is the male chest not covered up, but the female chest is?

  3. Only 992 to go…. Don’t forget to include TV shows. Kidding!

    I haven’t seen most of those films you mention but very willing to take your word that they all contain glimpses of flaccid peen. And I would imagine that as a result they received a more restricted rating.

    Of course, I didn’t say that penises never appear in movies or on TV. However you did say they were ubiquitous. It seems though that you’re not entirely wrong, that there has been a very recent sea-change in terms of depictions of male nudity in movies – though when it happens it is usually either for comic effect or shock value:

    http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/movies/news/a374518/jason-biggs-on-american-reunion-nudity-its-my-penis.html

    Yes, the American internets is full of huge erect donkeydicks. But it’s called porn, and is subject to nominal age-restrictions on its viewing, which is supposed to be conducted ‘in private’. This blog is not a pornographic site, alas. So a single, small un-erect arty penis was enough to get it threatened with deletion by one of the largest webhosts in the US. They acted as if I had, I don’t know – pasted a Pierre et Gilles poster on a lamp-post, or something.

    You seem very keen on the breathless phrase ‘explicit full frontal male nudity’ when just talking about flaccid, common-or-garden male nakedness. So perhaps it isn’t as boring as you maintain.

    Thanks for finally providing a link for your claim that it’s all down to the Muslims, though the report you cite seems rather confused on this point – and contradicts some of your other, more pertinent, claims about male and female nudity. I agree that Christianity is often deliciously conflicted about its pagan-influenced art history and I salute Sioux Falls, South Dakota for its Statue of David, which really is splendidly un-American. Though it seems there were quite a few Christian objections to its, er, erection – and its classical (i.e. tiny) modesty had to be protected with trees:

    ‘When first erected in Fawick Park, the statue was quite controversial in the city. Many felt a nude body displayed in public was not only in bad taste, but would have a bad effect on the moral values of the citizens. The statue was placed facing south-east, away from traffic, and trees were planted to screen it from the street.’

    http://wikimapia.org/1215776/The-Statue-of-David

  4. “Think you’ve got a way to go there.”

    Hall Pass, Wanderlust, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, American Reunion, Harold and Kumar, Sideways, Hangover 1 & 2.

    Those are just the light hearted, mostly recent, comedies that have explicit full frontal male nudity that I can think of in ten seconds. How many more examples do you want?

    “Oh and inci­den­tally, ear­lier this year I had to hastily move this blog…”

    What’s your point? You do realize that the US produces more pornography, internet and otherwise, than any other country and that, unlike the UK, it is legal to produce violent and disturbing pornography here as well. Obviously there are plenty of webhosts that allow adult and extreme content; your situation is not the norm.

    “And how many actual penises did that recent hit Amer­i­can movie about male strip­pers have in it?”

    Again, what’s your point? If you so desperately want to see a penis in a mainstream Hollywood film, you have plenty of options. What about heterosexual men who would like to see a vulva in a movie for once? They have NO options. They’re the only one’s with the right to complain.

    “As for your the­ory about Vien­nese Mus­lims being respon­si­ble for the com­plaints and threats over pub­lic peen — as far as I can tell it’s just that, your the­ory.”

    Really? Here’s a quote from the Associated Press’s news release:

    “Museum officials say they received a flood of complaints by last week, mostly from outlying districts heavily populated by new immigrants from Muslim countries.”

    Link: http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2012/10/19/male-nude-posters-arouse-ire-of-viennese

    “Besides, in my expe­ri­ence most Chris­tians don’t tend to be so keen on peen either. At least in public.”

    At least Christian art has a long lineage of pagan body worship as a primary influence. I used to live in South Dakota, one of the most religious, conservative states in the nation, and they have a life sized replica of the statue of David in the heart of the capitol city. Islam has no such artistic history and a much stricter prohibition against idolatrous and blasphemous imagery.

  5. Moonist: ‘I can name a thou­sand movies and tele­vi­sion shows that have shown a penis.’

    Think you’ve got a way to go there.

    Oh and incidentally, earlier this year I had to hastily move this blog from my US webhost (one recommended by WordPress) after they threatened to scrub my account and delete all my files because of one small, tastefully photographed flaccid (adult) penis.

    And how many actual penises did that recent hit American movie about male strippers have in it?

    As for your theory about Viennese Muslims being responsible for the complaints and threats over public peen – as far as I can tell it’s just that, your theory. Besides, in my experience most Christians don’t tend to be so keen on peen either. At least in public.

  6. “Wher­ever you are, you’re obvi­ously receiv­ing TV shows and movies we don’t get much of in the UK.”

    I live in the US and pretty much every mainstream adult comedy and premium cable television show produced here trots out a penis at least once. I guess Brits no longer can accuse of Americans of being Puritanical, if, as you claim, the British media is so uptight about male nudity. But then I wonder what shows you’re watching, as I seem to remember plenty from the UK with full frontal male nudity.

    “They wanted pub­lic­ity and they got it. Though per­haps more than they bar­gained for.”

    As I mentioned, most of the negative response is probably coming from the local muslim population and I seriously doubt the directors either expected or pursued that kind of reaction to any degree, as white people are terrified of provoking muslim hostility. What a lot of westerners don’t realize is that muslims take seriously the modesty of both sexes, despite the more obvious censorship of female sexuality.

  7. Moonist: Wherever you are, you’re obviously receiving TV shows and movies we don’t get much of in the UK.

    As for the Vienna museum: on reflection, I don’t entirely buy their ‘shock’ at the public response. They wanted publicity and they got it. Though perhaps more than they bargained for.

    HH: Thanks for explaining the regional differences in German-speaking attitudes to nudity. I’d somehow forgotten that Austria was strongly Catholic.

    I have to say this uptight English boy was shocked and appalled by those (northern) German nudists back in the late 70s. Shocked but thoroughly fascinated.

    (From fascinum: “a phallus-shaped amulet worn around the neck used in Ancient Rome; witchcraft”)

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fascinate

  8. Don’t let the likes of Dr. Freud and the Vienna Secession fool us. Austria, like its neighbour Bavaria, is practically a Catholic theocracy. The nut-brown German nudists you remember were northerners, probably free-wheeling Rheinlanders or matter-of-fact sorts form Lower Saxony.

  9. “Unfor­tu­nately, the posters don’t appear to have been defaced for your rad­i­cal art-history rea­sons.”

    I didn’t say they were, I was only pointing out that they deserved to be for that reason. From what I’ve read, the complaints (and therefore most likely the people defacing the posters) are coming from districts with heavy muslim-imigrant populations which puts liberal, art-scene dipshits in a hi-lar-ious argumentative bind.

    “Which rather under­mines your first state­ment, that male nudity is ram­pant in all West­ern media.”

    The very fact the museum directors were flabbergasted that anyone would object to explicit, porny depictions of male genitals plastered all over public spaces just shows how casual the media is concerning male nudity. And public posters are hardly the bulk of visual media; movies, television, galleries all frequently show male genitalia. It’s almost unescapable at this point.

    “In fact, for all the male flesh on dis­play, actual male nudity — or ‘explicit male nudity’ as you describe it — remains largely taboo.”

    Compared to what? I can name a thousand movies and television shows that have shown a penis. How many movies and television shows can you name that have shown a vulva? Just compare the exposure of analogous male and female body parts. Female body parts are always more frequently censored or hidden; that’s because social conservatives, religious fanatics, and feminist liberals all take offense to nude depictions of women.

    Female nudity is STILL after all these centuries the bigger taboo. Can we be avant garde about art and the body for once?

  10. An interesting take.

    Unfortunately, the posters don’t appear to have been defaced for your radical art-history reasons. Or because they’re boring. But simply because they showed COCKS.

    Which rather undermines your first statement, that male nudity is rampant in all Western media.

    In fact, for all the male flesh on display, actual male nudity – or ‘explicit male nudity’ as you describe it – remains largely taboo. However flaccid it may be.

  11. How exactly is plastering a banal, artless photo containing explicit male nudity on public walls an example of progress? Male nudity is rampant in all Western media, while the female body is still relatively covered with taboo. This only serve to bolster arguments that the present arts scene has run out of ideas long ago.

    What’s shocking is how little the male nude has evolved from classical times. While all popular conceptions of beauty are brutally narrow compared to the diversity of human forms, the female nude has at least been granted personality and individuality due to heterosexual male artists’ greater tendency towards obsessive muse/artist relationships. However, creators of male nudes tend to be even further limited by a general conception of men’s disposability and functionality. Which is why we get the gay artist’s rotating army of brainless studs, the straight male artist’s dull, humble “everyman,” and the female artist’s compliant vessel for feminist anger.

    The picture above fetishizes liberal conformism. It deserves to be defaced in protest.

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