The year might be 2009, but it might as well be 1984 in America, with an Orwellian paradox defining its perception of virtue. Thus, wife cheating Republican politicos are the defenders of marriage, corrupt judges who send innocent children to privately run prisons for a bribe are held up as the scions of law and order (until they are caught) and our self-righteous mainstream media peddles violence without restriction but will cringe at the mere peek at a mature woman's breasts.
The esteemed French magazine Paris Match featured a bare breasted Sharon Stone on its cover, celebrating the magnificent beauty of a fifty year old woman's glorious body. This is not a girlie magazine for men we are talking about, but one of the most prestigious publications in the world, with a well-earned reputation for journalistic excellence. As would be expected with a revealing magazine cover image of a celebrity, the Paris Match profile of Sharon Stone has been replicated throughout the world. However, when the front cover image of Ms. Stone migrates across the Atlantic, an inexplicable metamorphosis occurs. The Internet's version of yellow tape migrates across the French magazine's cover, intersecting Sharon Stone's breasts at the nipple line, lest we be offended.
Lest we be offended? Americans can view scenes of appalling brutality through the lens of American mass media, with barely a whisper from the morality police. But heaven forbid that the bare breasts of a proud American woman, tastefully photographed and artfully presented in a publication as distinguished as Paris Match, should be revealed in their shining glory. It seems there is a fear that such an uncensored visual experience would hasten the decline and fall of American culture and civilization.
Perhaps my perception on this issues is distorted, due to my passionate interest in fine art photography of the female nude. I have photographed numerous bare breasted women, and have yet to sense that my level of culture and civility is eroding. The sight of a woman's nipple does not transform me into a barbarian. What fine art nude photography does for me is heighten my appreciation for the mystique of feminine beauty, much as the uncensored Paris Match cover portrayal of Sharon Stone is an artful salutation to her middle-age grace and sensuality. However, with the yellow tape over her bosom, she is transformed into a caricature, stripped of her feminine essence.
In its discomfort in presenting the female body as proud and unclothed in any setting outside the realm of pornography and "men's magazines," the mass media in the United States is far more aligned with Iran than Europe. In fact, in both Europe and Canada, tasteful nudity is freely presented on mainstream media. It is the USA that holds to a puritan ethic that reaches the level of the absurd when censoring the cover of one of the world's outstanding magazines.
Those clinging the strongest to a regime of censorship that is primeval in comparison with other countries with more enlightened media policies are often counted in the ranks of those who also support the Iraq war and Bush administration's trampling of the U.S. constitution. I for one hope one day a magazine cover as beautiful as the Paris Match tribute to Sharon Stone and her wondrous femininity will be liberated from such ethical hypocrisy, but until that day arrives, I will continue to photograph the beautiful bodies of exceptional women. For those not afraid that such fine art imagery may lead to their moral destruction and spiritual doom, I extend an invitation to view my gallery at FemmeNudes.com, http://www.femmenudes.com. But be warned, the yellow tape is off.