"Tasteful nudity" is the phrase used to advertise the fact that, yes, there will be naked body parts shown on film of the type that the law prudishly requires people to keep to themselves, but that this display is necessary because, goddammit, it's art!! Perhaps the best example of tasteful nudity in movie history is to be found in the culmination of the 1997 version of The Wings of the Dove, which has Helena Bonham Carter buck naked for what seems like twenty minutes while she engages in impassioned dialogue with another character.

To be fair, nudity is not inherently distasteful, and it is only our suppressed obsession with reproduction that makes some feel shameful at the thought of the bodies into which we were born being viewed without covering the titillating bits. But, such is the nature of our day that we still must pretend there's something unpleasant about nakedness unless it is wrapped in a tragic morality play written a century or so ago. On the other hand, my but how the times are changing -- with the positively ridiculous opposite extreme of graphic (and, yes, often tasteless) nudity available on the internet, the next generation coming up into that is likely to shrug off naked nudity, and discern keener distinctions between what is truly tasteless, and what is just the human body at work and play.

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