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Naked and alone.
Full frontal nudity on television.
For the most part, I consider myself an inclusive and tolerant person, and I welcome conversations and connections with people from all walks of life. My partner Emma is even more tolerant and inclusive than I am and will see the best in everyone.
The exception to this is when we are seated on what Emma and I have named the “Judgemental Couch”. This is simply the couch in our living room that we sit on when watching television. While on the judgemental couch, much of our tolerance and inclusivity is shown the door, as we critique and comment on people in ways that neither of us would do so normally.
It occurred to me recently while watching a television show, that my reaction to some of the participants was out of character and overly critical.
There is a British television program that has recently been broadcast here in New Zealand that depicts full frontal nudity, and for the most part, has appeared to have gone unnoticed by the traditional and vocal opponents of anything that displays even a hint of nudity.
The program “Naked, Alone and Racing to Get Home”, drops pairs of people out in the wilderness, naked except for footwear, and they race to return to civilisation.
Perhaps it has gone unnoticed because it is broadcast on the terrestrial free-to-air state broadcast network. It seems that very few people watch their content this way any more, preferring to stream content from one of the multitude of entertainment options currently available.
It could be that people are just no longer bothered by nudity on their screens. Programs like Naked Attraction continue to be broadcast and may have normalised nudity on our screens to some degree.
It could also be argued that the nudity on this game show is not particularly gratuitous or titillating. The contestants are in a 3-day endurance race with elements of survival and their state of dress seems largely irrelevant.
Perhaps television is the last medium to embrace nudity in the same way that cinema or the internet has. One could argue that if you wanted to catch a glimpse of naked people, why would you bother sitting through a 40-minute episode of a broadcast television program when within seconds you could dial up any number of naked people in any number of activities online?
I was mildly annoyed by the narrator who more than once pointed out that the contestants needed to avoid getting arrested as they approached populated areas. My understanding is that simply being naked is not an offence in the UK, although perhaps some of my readers from that part of the world can clarify that for me. It could be that this was simply catering to a more sensitive international audience.
I was more annoyed that none of the contestants seemed to be given sunblock or hats, and a few of them suffered sunburn that could be considered irresponsible. One contestant suffered heatstroke to the point that medical intervention was required. Even seasoned naturists wear sunblock and hats.
When the naked contestants approach civilisation, they are more likely to come across unsuspecting members of the public. Often their first encounters are with walkers or cyclists, and to be fair most of these are good-natured.
The naive naturist in me sees this as a positive situation, and that for the most part, people coming across others naked in the countryside are not threatened or offended by the lack of clothing.
The realist in me expects that the fact that the contestants are accompanied by a camera operator, puts the sudden appearance of a nude couple into a context that alters the reaction of the general public. Some will see the cameras as an obvious cue to run a mile from appearing on telly, whereas others will gravitate toward them like moths to a flame for their 15 seconds of fame.
For the most part, the fact that the contestants are naked makes little difference to the show. Apart from scratches from vegetation or bites from insects, which can be an issue for clothed hikers as well, it seems the only downside of the lack of clothing is sunburn or being cold overnight if they fail to make a fire. Although some having made fire, failed to keep it going overnight or when it started to rain.
Additionally, the leaving of food drops in the form of un-butchered game was no doubt designed to test the contestants beyond their urban comfort levels. Fair play to one contestant who stepped up and managed to get a meal for him and his partner. Many would have found that challenging even after two days without proper food.
Despite glimpses of people managing to overcome adversity, some of the contestants were ill-prepared for the challenges set for them, evidenced by the fact that not everyone finished the journey, some through medical events, others through lack of stamina, both physical and mental.
Part of the drama created by the program makers appears to be caused by the mismatching of the contestants. While some of the contestants are life partners, many are strangers thrown together. Pairing a short-tempered meat-eating chef with a dedicated vegan sociology student seems like a recipe for conflict, especially given the added stress of food and sleep deprivation, lack of hydration and exposure to the elements.
As I finish typing this blog entry from the comfort and safety of the judgemental couch, it occurs to me that even naked, some people can still be really annoying.
I’m not proud of my conclusion. These people have had the courage and fortitude to be out there on media, broadcast to the world, naked. Perhaps their personalities have been exaggerated by the production team to add drama to the show.
I applaud the contestants and their efforts to normalise nudity. Even the ones that annoyed me have more courage than I do.
Thank you for reading. Have a comfortable day.
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