What inspired the concept for this post were the recent trailers for High Rise (due to come out in May), which you can watch here #2 and here #3 if you want to—they’re way intense/weird. Essentially what’s important is these trailers yielded the below images, which we break down in sociopolitical detail.1
For the moment, we encourage you to enjoy these images. Treasure his formed muscles. Indulge your senses with how the sunshine contours his definition. Sexualize this body to be the fantasy you want it to be. Stare at it. Embrace it. Perv over it.
Do not, however, feel a shred of shame for doing so.
Tom gave you these for your enjoyment.
Tom wants you to enjoy.
Discussing Tom’s Nakedness
We jump into our discussion of Tom’s nakedness mid-stream of consciousness to talk about what it really means for feminism, gender equality, and representation in regards to the future of women in film and television.
Disclaimer: yes we know that Tom isn’t the only one doing his part, but this is Time for Tom, so we are laser focused on him.
Lorena: I am a fan of these photos. Why aren’t men naked in films more often? Why isn’t that considered beautiful and something we want to see in movies?
Jamie: Right, exactly
Lorena: Like, you and I pay our good money to go see Thor 2, and what garners the biggest response in the film? Chris Hemsworth glistening topless. Those two ladies behind us were REALLY into that scene.
Jamie: Of course they were, Chris Hemsworth is a hot piece
Lorena: And that scene wasn’t sexual at all! He was alone and self reflecting on the battle and future decisions he has to make for “the good of Asgard.” I feel like, we need more representation behind the scenes… more WOMEN there to say, “No, yeah, I think we should be showing more dudes naked. It will sell.”
Jamie: That’s why it’s so important. Tom is putting his manhood where his mouth is. By which of course I mean actually acting on all the things he talked about during the Crimson Peak press tour. And also I thought it was hilarious to put it that way lol
Lorena: LOL It is hilarious!
Jamie: Should we just post the videos?
Lorena: On it
Relevant convo starts at 1:31 for the below video…
Jamie: He feels it’s “unfair” that women are always the more naked in movies. Hells yes it’s unfair. Like some women feel empowered by being naked, and that’s great, but that’s all we ever see. That’s not every woman.
Lorena: Not to mention that even when a woman feels empowered by being naked, that still doesn’t define the entirety of that woman. She’s still a person with feelings, needs, agency, drive, goals, life. She’s still a human being living in this world.
Jamie: And so often when it’s done it’s not even about that empowerment. It’s so she can be sexualized.
Lorena: Yes, the Male Gaze in its “finest”
Lorena: I have to admit that back in the day during I Saw the Light pre-production, when Tom had that “This is what a feminist looks like” shirt on as part of the He for She campaign, I really had my doubts
Jamie: Yes! I remember that conversation
Lorena: I don’t want someone to say they’re a feminist. I want them to show me. You remember how nervous I was?
Jamie: I do!
Lorena: Like “Oh no, my favorite dude is going to be a fake”. I am SO GLAD I was SO WRONG. It’s like Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Jamie: He’s showing it! Equality is equality. He’s not only saying that things should change, but is actually being a part of changing it
Lorena: Exactly, he is part of the change. Like Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It is making Tom even more special to me
Jamie: I don’t know that Ghandi’s idea involved penis, but the sentiment still stands lol
Lorena: I think Ghandi’s idea was for all change? “Equality is equality,” as my friend Jamie once said
Jamie: No it was, I’m just saying this isn’t what probably popped into his head first. I don’t know Ghandi
Lorena: I don’t know Ghandi either, but I think his point of taking responsibility for yourself and understand that you can make a difference only if you choose to do so is what is important and what Tom has taken to heart. Like, when dudes say to you “How can I make the world better for women?” we can point to Tom Hiddleston and say, “Be more like Tom. Make choices that empower and that are part of change.”
Jamie: Oh no it totally is. I was really just joking that someone as serious as Ghandi was being brought into a conversation about Tom being naked. I think that kind of thing is fun
Lorena: Ha, yes, well, the conversation is about naked Tom, but I think it directly leads to Ghandi. 😉 I think too Tom enjoys being naked. He’s said it before, “Naked is better”
Jamie: He must
Lorena: So perhaps this in particular isn’t a challenge for him, but he sees the value in it and that it’s an easy thing for him to do. We only need to make small contributions… It’s like that scene in Finding Nemo, when they all do their small part to swim down. It causes a real change in the situation.
Jamie: Tom is not making this some huge thing. Like “Look at what a huge contribution I’m making to this cause!” He sees something that he can do something about, so he’s doing it. Because why wouldn’t he?
Lorena: Precisely, that’s what makes him a feminist. Doing something about it.
NUDITY AND EQUALITY
Jamie: I read an interview with Emily Blunt about Sicario where she talked about how her character in the movie was pressured to be a man. Like the studio literally would have given them more money to make the movie. But when she was finally cast, she had to fight against a nude scene that they wanted to include.
Jamie: So they don’t want her, and then try to get her naked ASAP
Lorena: That’s terrible!
Jamie: And both she and Benicio del Toro were like “wtf no”
Lorena: And the role doesn’t call for it at all!
Jamie: That was her point. Women are nude in film for no real reason all the time. The last movie I remember seeing where it was actually relevant was The Danish Girl
Lorena: Yes, I can see why, based on your review of it. I know that Hayley Atwell rallied against nude scenes too. In a comic con panel she remarked that she has had to tell directors, “I don’t think she would be naked in this scene. There’s no need for that and I’m not doing it just to fulfill your weird little fantasy.” They must feel like it sells more. And maybe it does… but I feel that naked men sells more too, cuz naked sells.
Jamie: Naked men would definitely sell if there were more of it
Lorena: Amen to that! Gee, isn’t it hard to measure if something is successful or not if you don’t actually do it ever? You need actual data to see a trend!
Jamie: Tom is adding to that data! lol And like, nudity is a part of life, so show it from both sides
Lorena: Right, and back to your initial point about Sicario and how they would have given them more money to make a film about a man instead of woman; it’s probably because they would be paying a male actor more money for the same role (without nudity)!
Jamie: Absolutely. And considering what we’re discussing, that is ridiculous. Not only is that fact that women get paid less infuriating on its own, but they’re getting paid less while being required to give more of themselves. It’s an imbalance, and I think the solution is twofold. Female nudity needs to be handled better (like we just talked about), and at the same time there needs to be more male nudity to even the scale. Normalize it. Making expectations the same for two groups that currently have a different level of expectation placed of them can only be a good thing in this instance. If men and women are more equal in the industry, that leads to more media from a female point of view, which we desperately need.
Lorena: And having more equal female protagonist roles justifies paying equal wages (or better!) to their male counterparts, not to mention the leverage to demand those wages and not feel the way Jennifer Lawrence admitted feeling when she didn’t push for more money. No one should feel pressured in a way that prevents them from asking for what they deserve in fair pay!
But if I’m honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn’t say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn’t want to seem “difficult” or “spoiled.”- Jennifer Lawrence
Jamie: Which is why Tom telling us that his nudity is purposeful and intended to attempt to redress the balance is such a huge deal.
Lorena: YES! And his Crimson co-star Jessica Chastain pretty much hits that nail on the head hard and swift in one of their press interviews saying,
What I really appreciate is that it’s not just women, it’s men and women and all groups talking about how we need more diversity and more equality in American cinema. I don’t know what’s happening. We’re supposed to be a mirror that’s held up to society and tells the story of what’s happening around us. And sometimes the American film industry only tells the stories of a few and I don’t want my story to be erased. I want to see women out there and I want them to be equally compensated for the work that they do. – Jessica Chastain
What’s important to me about this interview was that Tom just sits there actively listening and then agreeing at the very end. He waits until she indicates he can talk before speaking on the topic. He’s never trying to speak over her. And let’s be honest, Tom loves to talk.
Naked Tom Helps Validate the Female Gaze to Producers
The other talking point of Tom’s prominent, purposeful nakedness is the times that it upholds and pushes the envelope of the female gaze. While High Rise is not really his movie to do that, despite how delicious those photos are, Crimson Peak definitely is—and also Deep Blue Sea with Rachel Weisz. When Tom speaks on redressing the balance of how often women vs. men are naked onscreen, he also is speaking about how often female gaze vs. male gaze is presented to audiences. And according to a recent study by Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, it’s basically never.
At this point, you may be asking, “What is the female gaze?” After a quick glance around the interwebs for a definition of the female gaze, we realized that “Duh, #EGBTT!”2 We’re honestly trying to think of another non-indie film example of the female gaze in action3, but realizing that it’s possible Crimson Peak and its Gothic Romance trope inversion is the closest we’re gonna come (and guess what Guillermo references in discussions of Gothic elements and modern expression of love? Yup, Twilight4). Seriously this male vs. female gaze post and its referenced source below is bringing back Twilosophy feels so hard… (bold emphasis is ours)
…the [Twilight] movie series is not a return to the male gaze; it is a very strong assertion of the female gaze. Look, you saw New Moon, and if you didn’t, I’ll catch you up: Bella spends 80% of the movie in three layers of shirt and a parka, while the camera lovingly watches Edward jaaaaames deaaaaan across the parking lot in indie-rock slo-mo, and Jacob administers shirtless first aid with the finesse of a Chippendale. In Eclipse, the Jacob fan service is so prevalent that a character actually asks, “Doesn’t he own a shirt?” (This is immediately followed by competitive embracing, which sounds like it ought to be added to the next Olympics.) The not-sex scene … focuses almost entirely on the unbuttoning of Edward’s shirt. These are movies that understand that their primary audience does not need or want to see Bella’s goods, and they know exactly what their audience is there to see—they’re there to see the same things Bella wants to see. That’s the female gaze in action. – CleoLinda
Lorena: The more that people are talking about this, the better. Like we were saying, Tom could have just been getting naked and not explaining why, but he wants things to fundamentally change in society, and the only way to change is to open discussion and sharing of ideas. He wants you not just to stare at his naked form, but also talk about it. And Guilliermo del Toro pushed for people to talk about it, about Tom. He over and over again referenced, “Time for the buns to come out!”
Lorena: This just makes me excited. Things can only get better when this kind of energy is going on!
Jamie: I agree. If we have more female gaze happening, then by default we have to have more female protagonists.
Lorena: And not just protagonists, but true, equal ones. Ones that are not tropes!
Jamie: Right! I hate the whole frumpy guy gets sexy girl trope. That’s not accurate to real life much of the time. Not for as often as its portrayed.
Lorena: My two least favorites are the badass trope and the klutzy-but-loveable trope. Like, are we incapable of having a female who is just normal? She can even be an alien, just make her normal. That’s what made the SNL Black Widow trailer so funny; it was mocking both tropes.
Jamie: I love that Black Widow skit! And the fact that Scarlett Johansson agreed to do it proves that she knows what’s up. You go, ScarJo.
Lorena: That one study showed 12% of top-grossing films in 2014 had female protagonists, and more importantly (and even sadder, as if 12% wasn’t sad enough), is that women accounted for only 29% of secondary roles–and only 30% of speaking roles. Not only do they pay them way the fuck less, Hollywood is literally silencing women!
Jamie: It doesn’t even make sense either. Tons of women go see movies. We want movies about women!
Lorena: Precisely! Sure we make 23¢ less on the dollar than men, but damnit, we are still going to movies! After seeing Ron Howard talk about his whale movie, I realized that Ron Howard only makes dude movies (movies that are centered entirely on male themes and almost explicitly feature an all-male cast). I’m so tired of dude movies, even if they lack a sexualizing/objectifying male gaze.
Jamie: Me too. If you based your reality around what’s in Hollywood films, it’s as though the world is only made up of males. The male point of view is the default.
Lorena: And it shouldn’t be. It’s not reality and it’s not a reflection on what movie-goers actually want. It’s a reflection on sexism. On the idea that movies about women won’t make money. But plenty of movies about men flop out fiscally, and they keep making those! I can’t even tell you how inspired I was when Cate Blanchett said in her Oscar acceptance speech for Blue Jasmine:
“To those of you in the industry who are clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences: They’re not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money. The world is round, people!” – Cate Blanchett
END GAME: EQUAL FEMALE PROTAGONISTS INSPIRE EVERYONE
Lorena: Ultimately, it comes down to straight up needing true female protagonists who are not tropes, because they’re not part of the canon. They aren’t required. They don’t exist in the accepted mainstream. Like, when I look at my high school required reading, I can only think of three books where a female was the lead character: The Scarlet Letter, Farewell to Manzanar, and To Kill A Mockingbird.
Jamie: Exactly, the male point of view is just considered default, like the male gaze. It’s the experience everyone learns, even though there is more than one experience going on in reality.
Lorena: I did have one junior lit class where we could choose between Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Cannery Row, so technically I had 4 required readings with female leads but it wasn’t required for everyone.
Jamie: Everyone can read books about a guy, but the idea of requiring young boys to read book that revolve around a woman’s story isn’t deemed necessary.
1 Disclaimer: We are discussing heterosexual white female gaze here and we’re probably not using correct academic terms to talk about stuff. We know there’s more gazes and POVs, so if you have a different gaze of Tom Hiddleston (or anyone), we want to hear about it.
2 EGBTT = Everything goes back to Twilight (It’s been defined before, but T Hiddy Committee hates when we don’t know stuff, so we didn’t want anyone feeling left out if they missed it the first go-round)
3 Is The Runaways non-indie?
4 Really you should watch all of this interview. There’s a fabulous moment starting from 23:34 where Tom basically says his thoughts, realizing that probably Jess can have a better insight–and so he defers to her. Around 7:30 Jess mentions how she wanted to do the role because two women talking to each other in a film is a rare thing…you know, Bechdel Test.