'OITNB's Jenji Kohan Wants to Maximum Nudity But She Might Be Going About It All Wrong
Orange Is the New Black's Jenji Kohan has often been credited with being a part of a feminist revolution on Netflix but after her comments today at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society lunch, "Kohan" might no longer mean "feminism on Netflix." While talking to Masters of Sex's Michelle Ashford, Kohan said, "I love graphic sex, the more sex the better. Very often it's convincing the actors to get naked... You hope everyone will just be cool about it, and then they're not. There's a lot of convincing and making people feel comfortable."
In and of itself, this statement of sex-positivity is fairly neutral, beyond the implications that she has somehow goad actors into taking their clothes off. But moments later, when talking about contract restraints, Jenji stepped a little further into the murky water. She said, "Very often, there's very specific rider [on an actor's contract ... only side boob or only this check... the extras, god bless them, are the ones that have it all out there. And it's only an extra $10 a day for full nudity."
First of all, I want to say that I'm fine with consenting adults being nude whenever and however they please. If that happens to be on my laptop screen, so be it. But there are ways to use nudity as an empowering force, and there are ways to exploit people who need work to fulfill some sort of sexiness quota. Jenji Kohan seems to want to do the latter. It seems that, instead of consulting her actors about the level of nudity they're comfortable with, she's much more interested in getting as many naked bodies on camera as possible, for as cheap as possible. I realize that Jenji is interested in nudity for all genders, which is a start, but since OITNB takes place in a women's prison, you can bet that most of the "extras" she's talking about are women.
Now, I'm hoping this comment was just sort of off the cuff and intended to be lighthearted, and I'm sure that every extra who appears on the show has consented wholeheartedly to being nude, but that doesn't mean that Jenji's supposed approach to nudity has to emphasize quantity and "convincing" actors to take their clothes off. When the second season starts on June 6, I hope we'll see a fair and balanced look at nudity.