“What lovely breasts”: Why Naked Attraction Needs to Stop. Now.
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Naked Attraction has made its return on Channel 4 and has, once again, been met with the same questioning and curious glare that it received last September. Nothing has changed. The format is the same; a guest has six suitable partners revealed to them slowly and each round they have to knock one out. The catch is that all the suitable partners are naked, meaning that the decisions are not based on personality, or even facial attractiveness from the offset, but rather reasons like “his ass looks nice” or, in one case, “I’m not sure if that’s the foreskin I’m really looking for in a potential boyfriend.” I have written before on the worrying way Naked Attraction conflates dating and sex. As I then pointed out, “it combines our allowed desires for ‘right now sex’ and for dating into a problematic middle ground that raises ethical and cultural problems”. There are also other social issues, such as how the show links closely to televised pornography and previously raised concerns over body anxiety. It is worth clearing up the potential issue of what the programme is doing as an entertainment platform too. What is this show doing differently to, say, Love Island? There the aim is to get a date and the antics include kissing other couple’s partners, potentially going on dates with them and pursuing challenges where contestants strip to their boxers. In Naked Attraction, any romantic connotation is overshadowed by the show's obsession with nudity. Is there something wrong with this on primetime television? Well, on that point, I’m more sympathetic. Though it is reality television at its very worst, it’s just as much drivel as Take Me Out is, and so is acceptable after the watershed. The real issue surrounds how the show responds to the body. Love Island, or any reality dating programme, will feature attractive people and their looks will certainly play a part in choosing the date. But with Naked Attraction, it’s all about brute facts regarding one’s appearance. The reality is that this show is allowing questions like ‘do you have a 7 inch-penis?’ or ‘what cup size are your breasts?’ to be equated with ‘should I go on a date with you?’ and ‘what are you like as a person?.
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