"In show business, women who are lucky enough to find employment are asked to do only two things in every role they ever play: take your shirt off and cry.” So said David Mamet, playwright, essayist, screenwriter and film director, to actress Nancy Balbirer when she was a student at NYU Drama School. It impressed her so much that she made it the title of her 2009 memoir, Take Your Shirt Off and Cry: A Memoir of Near-Fame Experiences.
I don’t know how today’s female entertainers feel about the crying part, but stunning actress and mom Megan Fox has joined longtime clothes-on advocate and style icon Sarah Jessica Parker in now refusing nude scenes or sex scene parts, or as Fox called them in an interview with The Sun, “near-pornographic” scenes. She added, “There are just certain things boys should never see their mothers do.”
I respect her choice, and believe she is taking her children into consideration, but also using them as a valid excuse to get out of doing something, like eye-candy parts, that she never really wanted to do in the first place. My guess is that if Fox wanted to get into movies where she rolled around in bed with a male performer and had him fondling as well as kissing her breasts, she would have gone directly into the skin flick industry.
There are still plenty of actresses to fill Fox’s void. There are a lot of women in film who, unlike me, have enviable bodies and the confidence to show them off. They may even truly believe that nudity is important for the character being played. Although an argument can be made that it is their career and body to do with as they choose, I still wonder if it's really a choice. Or do they think that if they turn down the racy role and the direction to take off their shirt, and everything else, they will not get hired?
Have actresses ever used nudity to their advantage? Just check out Sharon Stone in Harper's Bazaar when she showed her industry what 57 looks like. Or look to the other glossies for young adults exploring their sexy side as a way to announce they are no longer tweens and are ready for more challenging roles.
I hope that Megan Fox's decision will afford her the opportunity to play characters that now show off her acting chops. Whether her new stand works out for her or not, I admire her willingness to risk limiting her opportunities and fame. This no-nudity mindset is just a component of a bigger movement by actresses to not do what they are not comfortable with, such as also not being retouched, as protested recently by Meghan Trainor in her latest video, Rumer Willis in Vanity Fair and Kerry Washington in Adweek.
If one actress goes against convention, she's "difficult" and "ruining her career." But when female entertainers ban together, changes will happen. If not, then those who make movies and those in the media will have something to cry about when actresses won't work with them.
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