From ‘Euphoria’ to ‘Cardo’: how the penis has become the protagonist of the season’s great series | Culture | icon


“And the actor, what? They always the bum. Well no, if I show boobs and chichichi Let him show his cock”, Maribel Verdú exploded a few years ago, asked by ICON about the number of scenes she had starred in without clothes. For decades, the female frontal nude has been much more present in cinema than the male: Maria Schneider in last tango in paris (1972), Nicole Kidman and Eyes wide Shut (2001), Kate Winslet and Titanic (1997)… they all had to expose themselves much more than their co-stars in front of the camera lens because things had always been like that. Up to now.

Only in recent times have the members of Benedict Cumberbatch walked through the small and large screens (the size does not matter here) in the power of the dog and Bradley Cooper in the alley of lost souls; one blamed on Kieran Culkin in Succession, that of Charlotte’s husband in and just like that plus the abundant phallic parade of Euphoria. These last three come from a network, HBO, which has always had nudity and explicit sex as the pillars of its success. Being a paid chain they could show everything that others had to hide: swear words and meat and explicit violence. The Sopranos, True Blood Y Game of Thrones They were a festival of breasts. true detective Y Vinyl They achieved almost more impact for the nudes of Alexandra Daddario and Olivia Wilde than for their scripts. Throughout six seasons, sex in new york on several occasions he showed his protagonists naked, without hardly seeing those penises of his bedfellows that they talked about so much (the same word penis was not heard in a prime time scripted series until the first season of Friends, in 1994).

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Yes, there were few exceptions in series like in Oz (HBO), set in a men’s prison, or tell me you Love Me, which very explicitly showed the sexual life of its three leading couples. But in general, nothing remarkable until it has been opened in tap. The change, according to Peter Lehman, Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University and author of Running Scared: masculinity and the representation of the male body, is the arrival of companies like Netflix, which have facilitated the creation of an uncensored market for creators. We have now seen barnacles in Easy, Elite, sex/life, Sex education The american gods. Even Disney +, under its Star non-family content section, is about to premiere pam and tommy, in which a man has loud arguments with his penis, a talking phallus.

In 'Euphoria' the photos of penises roam freely on mobile phones.  And in Nate's case they cause him more than one problem.
In ‘Euphoria’ the photos of penises roam freely on mobile phones. And in Nate’s case they cause him more than one problem.

It is argued that the proliferation of virile organs brings us closer to a more egalitarian and just world. They do, for example, the creator of Euphoria, Sam Levinson, and the co-creator of lost, Damon Lindelof, who has defended the normalization of male nudity in his two series for HBO, the remains Y vigilantes. “There is an incredible disproportion between naked women and naked men on television. And if you do a series on HBO there is no excuse not to put more dicks”, Lindelof told TV line. “The audience still has a strange reaction to seeing male genitalia. However, when they see female genitalia or bare breasts, they are completely indifferent.”

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“Bodies are bodies and we have to start being less conservative and show things as they are,” says Claudia Costafreda, director of thistle. In this Atresplayer series, where Costafreda debuts alongside Ana Rujas, there is a sex scene in a kebab restaurant in which we can see both Rujas and Diego Ibáñez naked, and the erect penis of the character played by Ibáñez is even shown (singer of Carolina During). “We wanted to show a sex scene without any shame, that was erotic, that could make people horny. We sexualize Diego just as we sexualize Ana, and not only the genitals serve to sexualize, but also the bodies, the kisses, the touching… In the end, the genitals are part of a whole and it doesn’t make much sense to cover them.” The director and screenwriter cites the influence of the recent British series Normal people (can be seen on Starzplay) as an example of a product that naturally shows sex and bodies from a stylized and precious tone. “It doesn’t have to be anything porn or obscene.”

But Lehman warns us that the idea of ​​a leveling scale is an oversimplification: “A lot of issues of patriarchal power are involved. Much of the male nudity in film is meant to assert phallic power as if it were attached to big penises, which it isn’t.”

The male nude, in general, is not shown to provoke pleasure in the viewer or for its aesthetic beauty, but is usually associated with a load of violence, humor or vulnerability in relation to the size of the penis or its exposure to other individuals. Borja de la Vega, a representative of actors who made his debut last year as a filmmaker with Mia and Moi, thought about it a lot before showing the frontal nude of one of his characters, played by Joe Manjón, on the screen. “There was something that he was challenging the character in front of him with his nudity, with his sex,” he explains. “We were very clear that in that scene the discomfort generated by the nude in the character played by Ricardo Gómez was very important.”

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The team from the series 'Cardo' celebrate their Feroz award for best dramatic series on stage.
The team from the series ‘Cardo’ celebrate their Feroz award for best dramatic series on stage.Fabian Simon (Europa Press)

In that showcase of glans called Euphoria there are many moments to choose from. The first penis seen in the series is the erect member of an adult man who is about to engage in sexual and domination relations with a minor, a scene full of violence and sadness underlined by Zendaya’s voiceover. The second episode of the first season generated headlines for showing about 30 members on screen, a sample of the excess that characterizes the series but also a way to highlight the discomfort and anger that those penises cause in a young man who is not entirely comfortable. with their sexual orientation.

It only takes a minute and a half for the first episode of the second season to show another erect penis. This time it is the owner of a local striptease, that he is receiving fellatio from one of his employees. Far from being an object of desire, this man, whose sense of ethics is as dubious as that of aesthetics, becomes the object of a joke, and his erect member is in the foreground next to the bullet wound he receives in the thigh only it serves to emphasize its pathos. A few scenes later, a group of people are forced to strip naked before a drug dealer who is interrogating them, and a junkie’s flaccid penis emphasizes the vulnerability he is feeling in that situation.

One of the paradoxes that emerges from these examples is that most of the penises shown on screen do not belong to the main actors. In that scene of Euphoria the actor Angus Cloud, who plays Fezco, covers his member with his hands. Jacob Elordi has not had to expose himself to that level at any time either. Lindelof made it clear that, despite his defense of male nudity, he would never show the penis of Justin Theroux, the protagonist of his the remains, because the interpreter would not feel comfortable doing it. Bradley Cooper has stressed that he voluntarily undressed for the Guillermo del Toro film because the story asked for it.

Justin Theroux in 'The Leftovers', where penises appeared, but none were his.  The recognized protagonists and actors, for the most part, are still not the ones who show it all.
Justin Theroux in ‘The Leftovers’, where penises appeared, but none were his. The recognized protagonists and actors, for the most part, are still not the ones who show it all.

Did the actresses of the past receive these considerations? “We have all undressed. What happens is that if I had not undressed I would have lost myself Lovers, And Your Mother Too, the lucky star…”, Maribel Verdú told us. A good example of how power relations influence these decisions can be found in Game of Thrones: Emilia Clarke, who made her debut as a professional actress at the age of 23 playing Daenerys Targaryen, undressed in numerous scenes in the first seasons until she said enough. Lena Headey, however, had a body double to film Cersei Lannister’s humiliating ride at the end of season five. De la Vega proposes that, at least in this sense, there is a balance: “Facing the male or female nude from now on should entail asking the same questions. There should be a creative reason for everything nude, but there should be no taboo with the masculine.

The creators of thistle they were blunt when it came to signing the actor who played Gabriel. “We explained to the candidates before doing the casting that if they were not willing to show themselves or were going to have a problem with that, they did not need to continue, because for us it was important.” They are not the only ones: in 2015 many were scandalized by the conditions that spelled out the contracts of figuration in Western world, from HBO, which warned that the filming could lead to genital-to-genital contact, simulations of oral sex with manual contact with genitalia, or ending with painted genitalia. As explained to Vulture a production company, the search for penises to show on the screen may involve hiring models who are willing to show their erect member, searching in adult image banks or even asking a person who has sent a “photopenis” in private to use it to a production (for no more than about $250).

All of this logistics and administrative management is greatly alleviated by prosthetics, which turn male frontal nudity into an illusion, no more than “a Halloween costume,” according to Lehman. In recent years, he has focused part of his research on the use of phallic prostheses in audiovisuals, as in his academic article The prosthetic penis and the trans penis: changing cultural representations and discourses around the penis, and considers that this element has some perverse consequences. His thesis is that these prostheses (which are also being used in Spain, as in the case of Mario Casas in Instinct or Diego Ibanez in thistle), perpetuate traditionally patriarchal notions such as the idea that the bigger a penis, the better, and that a large member is an impressive sight.

“In porn, for example, penises are not only big, they are very big. In penis size jokes, on the other hand, small penises are usually a laughing matter. As the patriarchal Western culture represents the symbolic phallus as a sign of male privilege and power and seeks to attach that symbolic phallus to the penis, the size and shape of the penis are in the foreground. But the truth is that the penis is just an organ and does not tell us anything about the strength, power or sexuality of man, “concludes Lehman. In short, although it seems that fiction is now a field of turnips, not all of the mountain is oregano.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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