Friday, July 10, 2009

Is This Video Erotic?

There is an interesting video floating around the Internet. It is a typical instruction video that one sees on virtually any flight. It was produced by Air New Zealand as a means of getting their passengers to pay attention to its important messages.

You have members of the flight crew - both male and female - discussing emergency procedures. I’m sure anyone who has ever taken a flight knows what I’m talking about. What makes this video a bit different is that all the people on it are completely naked. But… they have body paint on their skin that makes it look like they are wearing uniforms. (See image above.) All the visuals also have very clever ways of covering up the actual genitalia.

The question is - is there anything wrong with viewing this? Is body paint Halachicly clothing?

Some might say that it is Assur to look at it because it somehow intended to evoke Hirhurim Assurim - erotic thoughts. Anything which can produce erotic images or thoughts is the basis for of the Halachos of Erva and Tznius.

But I would disagree that this video does that. I do not see it in any way as erotic.

For one thing I don't even think the intent was meant to provoke erotic thoughts. It was meant as a gimmick to spur attention to an important message.

Secondly if the paint on a 2 dimensional screen looks like clothing and there is no hint of any erotica (by cleverly covering up actual genitalia) I see no problem with viewing it. If one looks at such a picture without knowing that the people are actually naked they may not even realize they are naked. It might actually take awhile to realize it. The painted clothing looks cartoonish - not erotic.

The only reason there is even any question is because those who view it already know (via promotion by the airline) that these people were naked with paint substituted for clothing. But knowing that is not by itself erotic. So I would conclude that it is not Assur to view it, especially if the message is important.

Would I advocate making this video L'chatchila? No - because it is was produced in an immoral way. These people were filmed naked. But certainly B'dieved in order to learn important potentially lifesaving information, I would think it is OK.