Butts In Sci-Fi: Humor Or Sexy?

Since our discussion in Podcast #86, the GWC Forum has been alight with discussion of the role of men's butts in science fiction, specifically revolving around two scenes: Mal's appearance in the Firefly episode Trash and Jamie Bamber's candid moment in the Battlestar Galactica episode Final Cut.

As a guy who's interested in women -- much respect, though, to those whose taste runs different, and I'd love to hear your take on this -- I don't get anything from either Mr. Bamber's towel scene or Mr. Fillion's bare-ass-and-I-don't-care-'cause-I-just-got-paid moment, which led to my initial comment. I was certain that most women viewed Mal's moment in the sun in the same way they do Lee's slip-'o-the-towel.

I far as I can tell, I was wrong, wrong, wrong. I understand that male nudity is generally treated as humor, while female nudity is treated as erotic. But there's knowing and there's getting it.

I saw Mr. Bamber's scene as humor, because it was great seeing the reactions of everyone involved -- even Starbuck whose smirk gives away the fact that she definitely admire her towel-less rear view. What I didn't realize is that most female fans find this more erotic than funny, while they find Mr. Fillion's scene nothing but humor.

So while I understand the concept, I still don't get it. Help out a straight male fellow fan. How do these scenes really differ?

15 Responses to "Butts In Sci-Fi: Humor Or Sexy?"
  1. adoracion says:

    men’s butts look like baby butts. unlike females, whose butts go thru major transformation by the time they’re adults. that’s why a naked male booty is oftentimes funny…. just like a baby booty is funny!

    however, i think when the male booty is all sexy-muscled it is no longer “funny”, but “erotic” instead because it no longer resembles a “baby bottom” and more closely resembles other stuff: “HARD MUSCLES”…. you know….

    that’s MY take on this phenomenon….

  2. trillian says:

    I think Chuck’s confusion generally sums up why men like women in lingerie, but don’t actually wear it themselves. Presentation matters.
    The scene with Lee was shot to emphasize his chest and abs, this draws your eyes down (well, mine at least) and the imagination kicks in.. The whole scene is sexy, not just when the towel drops. The bum doesn’t add to the sexiness, for me anyway. It was more the nearly nude front. Oh, and shower (wet) vs. garbage pile?

  3. Pike says:

    Men don’t generally care about lingerie. Men care about what lingerie is getting at…

    That said, I think trillian is right. Put Nathan in a (co-ed!) shower and sit Jamie on a desert rock, and reactions will probably be different. They’re both humorous situations, but only in one is our hero the butt of the joke (sorry, had to.)

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  5. Tanu says:

    I go away for a couple of months and this is what happens!!!

    Good thing i wasn’t sipping on anything when the website loaded.

    Lee – sexy, hot!
    Mal – hysterical!

    Reason? Gym-discipline…

  6. hansioux says:

    completely naked from the back without any cover, funny.

    frontal nude but covered with towel, sexy.

    besides, it’s the way the scenes are set up. with Mal, his butt just pops out all of a sudden on screen. Then people made fun of him. With Apollo, he was in a place where he is supposed to be naked (changing room) and someone intruded, and made a comment about him being sexy.

  7. Robert says:

    Totally Funny.

  8. DawnAZ says:

    I think a nude scene- or in this case a butt scene- can work when the nudity is part of the story. So often we see female parts because sex sells and the lady’s top coming off has no purpose in the story, it’s just a good visual. In both Lee and Mal’s scenes, their nudity had everything to do with story and character. I approve creatively and visually. As a girl who likes men, I’m really sick and tired of always and just about only seeing women sans clothes. And it amazes me how people freak out when a man disrobes.

    For Lee’s part, D’Anna had TOTAL access with her camera. I think he liked standing there acting like he didn’t care, which fits his character. With Mal, he didn’t expect to lose his clothes, but he beat Saffron at her own game and that was reward enough to wait nude and alone in the desert. The added bonus is that Inara picked him up. Imagine for a moment if Jayne did!

  9. missmuffet says:

    I think the difference is intent. I think that the intent behind showing Lee with the towel was more to be sexy than to be funny. Sure it was kind of funny but BSG is rarely funny – there is always that underlying sense of seriousness. Lee let the towel drop to make D’Anna uncomfortable – the comedy comes from that and from Starbuck’s reaction.

    The intent behind showing Mal’s bottom was purely for laughs. It was never in any way meant to be sexy. He’s been left naked in the middle of the dessert by a woman – that’s nothing but funny. And kind of humiliating.

    Also I think it’s the actors – not just how they look but their styles. Nathan Fillion tends to bring the funny no matter what he does, though he can obviously be very serious. Jamie Bamber is more the opposite.

  10. hansioux says:

    DawnAZ: Imagine for a moment if Jayne did!

    that would have been priceless.

  11. adoracion says:

    Tanu: LOL! you better stick close by…. who knows where the GWC will take us next.

    “Lee – sexy, hot!
    Mal – hysterical!

    Reason? Gym-discipline… ”

    there you have it folks…..and SCENE…

  12. klcthebookworm says:

    *Sigh* Did you have to put it like this: “I understand that male nudity is generally treated as humor, while female nudity is treated as erotic.” I’m not trying to go all femi-Nazi, but it’s really close to almost saying that female nudity can only be erotic and that we straight female fans can’t have erotic male nudity. I know not the intent, but I think that’s the direction the Hollywood studio brain goes. Honestly, why does full female frontal nudity only get an R but male full frontal bumps the rating to NC-17?

    I haven’t seen that Firefly episode yet (my DVDs were borrowed before I finished them) but I found Lee’s scene hot and funny. I know I laughed at it.

  13. Pike says:

    kic, “is treated” is a long way from “can only be.”

  14. Ken S says:

    “Honestly, why does full female frontal nudity only get an R but male full frontal bumps the rating to NC-17?”

    Because to the hetero-male-centric mentality making the decisions from behind the curtain considers a naked woman an acceptable ‘object’ of desire (and- by extension- possession) while a naked man is not. Men are supposed to be the ‘active,’ the ‘subject,’ the one who does the looking and the desiring, it’s part of the “masculine role.” It’s okay if he’s allowing himself to be lampooned (“naked and funny/silly,” like a stripped clown) because a man *being* funny is still the active party, still in control, still a model of masculine confidence (read: power, control). But objectifying a male by presenting him as otherwise serious and masculine but also sexually desirable undermines masculinity as a whole. He can be sexy as long as he’s the aggressor or the voyeur; but if we’re leering at him, ogling him, wanting him- without it all being a big funny joke that he’s *telling*- then we’re taking some power of desire over him and damaging his manliness, which is taken as a threat to all manhood, which is supposedly sacrosanct. So *hot* male nudity becomes taboo in any system dominated by (insecure) straight men (or those co-opted by their mentality).

  15. Lisa says:

    Maybe you has to look on monstersexhouse.com for get the answer… lol

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