This week, I watched “Free the Nipple” on a total whim. It was a movie unlike anything that I’d ever seen before. Because it was based on true events, it was difficult to tell what was fiction and what was real. At times I felt like I was watching a documentary, while at others I seemed to be watching a chick-flick. In all, the short ‘n sweet movie felt very organic and “grass-rootsy.”
“Inspired by true events, Free The Nipple follows a group of young women who take to the streets of New York City topless, to protest the archaic censorship laws in the United States. Activist Liv and With set out to start a movement and change the system through publicity stunts and graffiti installations while armed with First Amendment lawyers. The film explores the contradictions in our media-dominated society, where acts of violence and killing are glorified, while images of a woman’s body are censored by the FCC and the MPAA. What is more obscene: Violence or a Nipple?” (Freethenipple.com)
Before watching, I was pretty skeptical and critical of the whole “going topless in public” thing. It seemed to be a cheap vie for attention, indecent, and God forbid, what if kids see?! I mean, what was the point?
The answer to my question was found in one of the first scenes that convinced me to believe in their cause:
“What I can’t get my head around is that the nipple is the first thing we see when we are born. It nourishes us. Then somehow, the symbol of life becomes illegal, I mean, my own mother was kicked out of church for breastfeeding me. And what’s even more annoying is while we are allowed to see murder, violence, and war on every channel, Janet Jackson’s nipple slips and it becomes the fucking crime of the century. Furthermore, I’m trying to bring about more responsible representations of female nudity. Because the only representations that I see on mainstream culture are ones that are totally hypersexualized and ones that make me question what it means to be a woman in modern society.”
Preach it, girl. On a very basic level, I do find it unfair that in 35 states, a woman could be punished for breastfeeding in public. Interestingly enough, while watching the film, I didn’t find the women’s breasts to be sexualized at all. It was just like looking at another part of the human body, like the neck or calf! Yes, they were breasts, and yes, they were in your face. But they (and in effect, the woman and her sexuality) weren’t selling me beer, cars, or any other product. I believe this was what they meant by bringing about more “responsible” representations of female nudity, and in my opinion, had successfully achieved it.
Now, the only qualm that I had with this movie was that the opening scene (and several other scenes) showing the women going topless blurred out their nipples. Oh, the irony. For other viewers, the lack of “closure” (i.e. there’s no “and they forever changed the laws of America!”) since this is an on-going campaign may feel unsettling. I understand that it’s still a growing and evolving movement, so that didn’t bother me too much.
Have you seen this movie? Would you go see it?
Thanks for reading!