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April 1, 2019 | by  | in TV |
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So Many Dicks. – Spartacus


Bish you thought I’d talk about Sex Education, huh? Well, you’re wrong.


Today we’re talking about Spartacus, which is a cheaper, hornier, more fun version of Game of Thrones. Seriously, if you like your fantasy in 40-minute excerpts and with consensual sex, Spartacus: Blood and Sand (and the following seasons) are great alternatives.


The absolute joy of Spartacus is how bonkers it is. Set in 73 BCE but shot in New Zealand, this show follows the life of Spartacus, a Thracian warrior, who finds his fortune after being enslaved in Rome. Many, many historical(ish) things happen, there’s a lot of fighting, and the whole thing is a Snyder wet dream. The very first episode opens with this:


Our reluctant hero Spartacus (who is not yet actually called Spartacus) is locked in a cage, enslaved. Though he is at the whim of a brutal master, he hasn’t yet lost his pretty boy appeal, rugged handsomeness, or his eight-pack. Above him is the Colosseum, where several thousand shittily-rendered CGI crowd members are watching two people fight. Within the next four or so minutes, we’re treated to the joys of a massive fight scene (a flashback), where the immortal words, “Where the fuck are the Romans?” are yelled in a Kiwi actor’s approximation of a Roman accent, and we move on from there.


A unique thing about Spartacus is how damn horny it is. And I think that’s a good thing. (Maybe.) It’s barely half an hour into the first episode when we’re treated to some vaguely-sexy banging, complete with an Enya-esque soundtrack and a true-to-form fade to black, just ready to be put into a Youtube ‘Spartacus Sex Scenes’ compilation. (Of which there are many. I checked.) Things continue on, with much aplomb, from there.


“Eventually, the thrill of seeing naked bodies during 12-hour production days wears off for the crew… Even the grips, these great big hetero crew men, could not give a fat rat about filming another sex scene,” Lucy Lawless (Lucretia) notes.” writes Richard Rorke in The New York Post*. Spartacus doesn’t shy away from nudity, regardless of the gender of the actors involved. It’s strange to see, because so many shows fall into the trope of having consistent female nudity, while full male nudity often gets thrown to the wayside or left out to avoid an NC-17 rating. So many works, especially within the fantasy genre, show us boobs upon boobs upon boobs—scenes that often appeal to the heterosexual male eye—but are too scared to portray nudity or sex in ways that could appeal to other demographics.


Salmon Caspar points out in The Independent* that “at the heart of an understanding of male nudity is the question of looking at men and therefore making them the object of a work of art, which is still seen as revolutionary or even deplorable.” Male nudity is so often played as comic relief, as the punchline to throwaway gags, so it’s nice when it’s not. It’s not like I really ^want to see more dicks on television, but hey, ^Spartacus’ move to do so helps promote positive change. If we detoxify how we see the human form on screen—regardless of gender or critical eye—it can begin to promote positive change towards the portrayal of the human body in our media.


Spartacus is a fun show, and probably not that deep, which promotes further questions: 1) Is Spartacus a good show? That’s debatable. 2) Can I spin a plot-light television show into an article about the patriarchy? Apparently so!


*Read more:

Rorke, Richard. ^‘Spartacus’ stars dish the naked truth. The New York Post, 2010.

Salmon, Caspar. ^“The fuss over Chris Pine’s ‘dazzling’ penis tells us so much about the endearing taboo of on-screen male nudity”^ The Independent, 2018.


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