Showing the Penis, Hiding the Phallus, a Cinematic Rupture with the Mythic Representation of Male Nudity

in Journal of Bodies, Sexualities, and Masculinities
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While visual eroticism is an accepted theme in cinema, the penis is still the last frontier of representation onscreen, either covered from the gaze of viewers or coated in phallic status in its rare representations. This article explores a rupture with the mythic penile representations in cinema within the recurrent scenes of full-frontal male nudity in Steve McQueen’s Shame (2011). Through generating a space between the corporeal penis and the abstract phallus, Shame foregrounds the untold vulnerability and volatility inherent in the supposed rigid heterosexual position of male sexuality. The research highlights such a shift in the phallic visuals of male nudity and its implications for a possible alteration in the significance and function of the penis.


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