So, we’re in the Golden Age of Television (or Platinum Age, if some are to be believed). The number of truly excellent series on television is at an all-time high, while movies — with few exceptions — are stuck in a mire of bland mediocrity.
(Which is where risk aversion gets you. Pervasive art-by-comittee will avert most gargantuan flops, but it will also produce generic, bland, by-the-number films, more oriented towards passing muster with accountants and managers than thrilling audiences. The one exception being superhero films, for now.)
The problem with the new Golden Age of Television is this: there are too many goddamned boobies.
For whatever reason, the leading shows of the new Golden Age, save for the very best (AMC’s Breaking Bad and Mad Men, for those living under rocks) are filled to the brim with rampant boobies.
Magic City? Pervasive nudity and softcore sex. Spartacus? Ditto. Boardwalk Empire? Yup. True Blood? You betcha. Weeds, Californication, Homeland? Check, check, and check. It’s to the point that even the notoriously nudity-prone Game of Thrones seems relatively demure in comparison.
To forestall the critics, I’m not criticizing this on moral grounds, but on artistic ones — it’s all so pointless.
Look, we live in the Internet Age. And I am reliably informed that, in this Internet Age, pictures of boobies are not in short supply. You can find them just about anywhere. And for free!
Big boobies, small boobies, medium boobies. Shapely boobies, average boobies, hideous boobies. Pale boobies, less-pale boobies, tanned boobies. Boobies on tall women, boobies on short women, boobies on medium women. Boobies from Scandinavia, boobies from Russia, boobies from California, boobies from China and Korea and Thailand and Somalia and Brazil… boobies from any race, place, color, country, county, or creed, and all of the places that boobies can be. Fake boobies, real boobies, boobies where you can’t quite tell, they’re probably fake, but — dear God! — you hope not. Boobies on amateurs, boobies on pros, even — gasp! — boobies on celebrities.
Here’s the point: you know how tired you are, after reading the word “boobies” twenty-seven — now twenty-eight — times? That’s how sick one gets of real boobies (twenty-nine) after an hour of Spartacus.
I’ve reached maximum boobies overload.
I can’t remember how young I was when I first noticed boobies, but I knew I liked them. So far as I know, I’ve always liked them. But modern television is making me sick of seeing boobies.
And frankly, that’s a crime against boobies. Boobies should be many things — enticing, alluring, amazing, compelling, captivating, inviting — but never boring.
See, eroticism requires a modicum of restraint. Remember Peggy Carter from Captain America? The leggy dame in the red dress was the Tsar Bomb of sexiness, capable of destroying a roomful of men with a small smile and demure stride.
That was sexiness. And never once a hint of nudity.
Sex and violence are the classic appeals to the human viscera — they move us on levels we’re not fully aware of, that we can’t be fully aware of. (That’s why “sex sells”.) Pagan cults knew this, as did the Romans, and so do we.
Modern nudity, ostensibly a paean to Eros, is in fact the antithesis of allure. Vulgarity is not enticing. It is obvious, it is trashy, and it is ultimately boring.
The producers of the Golden Age of Television have turned the sheer wonder and beauty of the female form into something you have to endure to get to the good parts, like grinding an MMO. And that’s a high price to pay, in return for seeing a few boobies.