If you look around Hollywood there’s no end of white smiles and six packs. Long lines of beautiful people lining up to be incredible on film.—Tom Hardy
At first, I was rather amused when I read Vanity Fair’s story claiming that Tom Hardy is filming a period adventure drama in the nude. After all, Hardy’s new show, Taboo, is filming in Essex of all places. There’s no way that being naked in Essex this time of year is even remotely comfortable. Brush up on your Photoshop skills because someone is going to need them! The whole matter seems just a bit absurd.
The more I thought about it, though, it occurred to me that the strangeness isn’t that Hardy is nude as much as it is the fact they’re getting away with it. Granted, the BBC censors have long allowed for certain amounts of non-sexual nudity and from what I can gather there’s nothing sexy about the role Hardy is playing. However, the program is scheduled to appear on FX as well, which means there will be naked man parts on US television.
Now, there are still some caveats, such as the fact that one has to have a cable subscription or in some other form be paying to watch content from FX. There still isn’t any form of nudity intentionally allowed on broadcast television in the US, whether it’s Tom Hardy or anyone else. We also assume (though we could be wrong) that there is some justifiable reason for Hardy’s character to be running around in nothing but his ink.
But, consider Tom Hardy compared to the photo above. They’re both human. They both are familiar with a tattoo gun. And they’re both naked. Actually, Hardy is more naked than our model; he tosses his underwear and goes full monty. Yet, it’s okay when Tom Hardy does it, but considered criminal if our model were to do the exact same thing.
Are you beginning to see the problem here?
Of course, it’s not like gender discrimination is anything new. Women were screaming about it long before there was the Internet. The biggest difference between then and now and that more people are aware of the senseless discrepancy both in terms of law and practice. No one can claim ignorance anymore and the excuse that everyone is doing it only underscores the need for change.
Sexism is a problem all around the world, but it becomes difficult to battle when we see such biased values supported through media such as television. The qualities of Hardy’s character matter little in light of the fact that, were his character female exhibiting the exact same qualities and motivations, she would either have to put on clothes or risk being arrested and/or fined. Only Tom Hardy can be naked on TV. Anyone else has to cover up.
This is exactly the form of sexism that the #FreeTheNipple campaign protests. Double standards are abhorrent no matter where they occur and when they are so obviously gender-biased there is every good reason to use civil disobedience or whatever other means seem reasonable to protest. What’s important to realize in this case is that we’re not opposed to Hardy being nude. Good for him! We’re happy! What rankles our temper just a bit is that it’s only Tom that can get away with this. A woman in the same role just wouldn’t fly past BBC or FX censors.
We’ve talked about the problem with gender bias and nudity before both here and here so I won’t bother repeating everything I’ve already said. Let’s just consider this a dramatic underscore. Tom Hardy doesn’t get special privileges. If he gets to go naked on television, women deserve the right to do the same. No excuses.