Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. (His penis covered here by Bruno.)
I have penis envy. Not in the real sense - I'm really happy with my given gender. I just wish that full frontal female nudity evoked the same yuks as this summer's many penis appearances do, instead of a billion dollar pornography industry.
The blogosphere is full of commentary on the new trend.
Used to be only Harvey Keitel would give us a peek at his willy. But this summer we were treated to a major appearance of the phallus in The Hangover and, in Bruno, a wacky dance performed by the ever-present member belonging to Sacha Baron Cohen.
Supplementing this development - and something that hasn't received as much attention - is a new cinematic preoccupation with the penile endearment "cock." A lengthy scene in The Ugly Truth features Katherine Heigl spitting out the word at least 10 times in an effort to convince anti-love interest Gerard Butler that she's wholly uninhibited. And even Meryl Streep as Julia Child gleefully utters the word in Julia And Julia.
There is a way in which the high-profile presence of the penis in movies signals progress. Pressure on women to do nude scenes has historically been very intense. Big stars have had to negotiate their way out of revealing their bodies and, nevertheless, until very recently, het sex scenes have shown a lot more female flesh than male skin.
So it's nice to see the pressure shift a little Comedy maestro Judd Apatow has promised to put a penis in every one of his movies (most notably, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I'm curious to see how male movie stars are going to react to the pressure. Will it be the new test for male machismo? Show it or you lose the gig?
Just for the record, that penis has to be flaccid. Otherwise, it could never make an appearance in a mainstream film. In fact, until Canada amended its pornography laws in the 80s, obscenity was almost literally defined as the presence of a penis erect at more than a 45-degree angle.
Crucially, where full frontal male nudity is supposed to be funny, including to female audiences, the presence of a stark naked babe - even in repose and not all hot and bothered - doesn't make men laugh (unless she's obese, another issue). It turns them on. That's not fair. Learn to laugh at us, too, why don't ya?
Maybe then, women's bodies could buttress the comedy industry instead of a pornography industry built on exploitation and the treatment of women as disposable commodities. Maybe then we women would be able to walk around shirtless like men do in the heat of the summer. As it is, if we do that, we risk a mischief charge - just because men can't handle a few bouncing mammaries.
That's my new rallying cry: comedify women's bodies, don't commodify them.[rssbreak]