NEKKIDVILLE—On its face, the decision by contestant Jessie Nizewitz to file suit against Viacom and two production companies for exposing her nude during the recent airing of an episode of the new VH1 reality show, Dating Naked, makes no sense. But when you consider that it was her genitals that were exposed, against what she claims were the repeated promises by producers to make sure that blurs were in place at all times, her complaint gains merit. Of course, that has not stopped the tsunami of brutal commentary sent her way by a veritable multitude of both named and anonymous trolls, on websites far and wide.
That public shaming, the amount of which can hardly be exaggerated, is central to her claim that because of the producers' failure to prevent the airing of a perfectly visible shot of her vulva and anus during a friendly tussle on the beach with her co-nudist, she is entitled to the tidy sum of $10 million in damages.
While we certainly feel ill-equipped to weigh in on one commenter's assertion that, "Not even a photo of Justin Bieber's vagina is worth ten million," we are less prone to agree with another individual who opined, tongue firmly wedged in cheek, "So she wrestles naked on a beach and is surprised that her ass and vag were sprawled for all to see. This court case is going to go far."
And while it's true that Nizewitz has probably brought far more grief upon herself than had she ignored the whole thing, the brevity of the shot as it appeared during the telecast has nothing to do with its potential longevity on other platforms. Indeed, the words "brief" and "snapshot" have become meaningless in a world in which everything is recorded (by the government if not by you), where snippets of shame are available for review at a moment's notice.
Nizewitz's awkward crotch shot is a perfect example of the phenomenon. If one happened to be tanning on the beach, lounging dreamily on a towel as the couple frolicked down by the water, you might not even notice that genitals were on display. But recorded, copied, resized and posted on a site like The Superficial, and the result is something far less than the superficial.
In that context, Nizewitz's claim that she has been "shocked, horrified and outraged" in the aftermath of the airing of the episode may sound a tad overstated, but not by much. Just because we live in a pornified world doesn't mean that everyone wants to be, for lack of another term, pornified.
As the 28-year-old put it in a letter to Entertainment Weekly via her lawyer, “I have no problem going to a beach in a bikini or people seeing me on TV in a bikini. Although I went on this show knowing that I would be nude while taping it I was told that my private parts would be blurred for TV. If you watch an episode, you will see that the blur actually makes it less revealing than a bikini would. Obviously, I did not expect the world to see my private parts, this is not what I anticipated or what any other contestants on the show anticipated.”
Mistakes happen, of course, and there are a thousand examples on the record of costume fails and other faux pas that resulted in unintended revelations of naked flesh, with many of them available to this day for posterity, but in this case, and in this lawsuit, a level of responsibility has to lie with the producers who clearly failed to do as they allegedly promised. In fact, while one has to assume that it was a lapse in editing that led to the failure to blur, it's rare that programming of this sort makes it to air without many eyeballs looking for just that sort of thing, for just this reason.
And then there is the publicity that is being generated over this for a show that has thus far, according to Entertainment Weekly, attracted about 800,000 viewers per first-run episode, a number EW terms "modest." If people become aware that more blur slips might happen, is it not possible that those numbers might rise accordingly?
In that regard, network nudity (or more) as a result of sloppy editing or a desire to get extra publicity is something that may very well happen more frequently as producers push the envelope trying to outdo one another with content that might otherwise need to come with a 2257 notice.
Speaking of which...
Image: Still from Dating Naked, with blurs in place.