The UK’s Telegraph recently reported concerns raised by Equity, the union representing actors, about actors being asked to strip down for casting sessions due to the increased presence of sexual content and nudity on television.
As the PTC reported in a 2012 study, nudity on television has increased in the United States by more than 400% in just one year.
The increased demand for actors and actresses who are willing to bare all for a role has left many vulnerable to abuse. Casting couch horror stories go back to the early days of film, and many young actors and actresses, including Corey Feldman and Thandie Newton, have spoken out about suffering from sexual abuse at the hands of Hollywood’s rich and powerful. But because of TV and film’s increased reliance on sex and nudity, more and more aspiring actors may come to view stripping-down in an audition as normal, even necessary to move ahead in their careers.
What’s even more troubling is the message such scenes send to young viewers, girls in particular, when more and more teen actresses are being sexualized on screen.
The real tragedy is that it doesn’t need to be this way. There is little evidence that the increase in sex and nudity on television or in films is being driven by consumer demand. In fact, quite the opposite. A recent story in the Sunday Times reported that more and more sex scenes are being deliberately cut from movie scripts as movie producers have come to realize that such scenes can actually hurt the bottom line.
But on television, where only six companies control 90% of the media we consume, the networks can afford to push this programming agenda, even if it’s unpopular, as long as they can find sponsors to underwrite it. Only when they feel the financial pressure to change, will the networks stop this troubling trend.