Aug 24, 2023 - News

How "Oppenheimer" nudity lands in Utah's porn war

Florence Pugh attends the "Oppenheimer" UK Premiere in London. Photo: Samir Hussein/WireImage, via Getty

Florence Pugh attends the "Oppenheimer" UK Premiere in London. Photo: Samir Hussein/WireImage, via Getty

As the world gawks at a TikToker's distressed reaction to "Oppenheimer's" sex scenes, attention is turning to a question Utah has occupied itself with for years.

  • Is it really unhealthy to see images of nudity?

Driving the news: A viral video this week showed an anti-porn activist describing her husband's efforts to hide his eyes from the intermittent sex scenes in Christopher Nolan's critically acclaimed "Oppenheimer."

  • "I don't want my night to be ruined by being triggered by something on a screen," said influencer Jourdan Kehr. "…Have a plan and talk about it before you go."

Why it matters: Kehr's video was part of her ongoing discussion of pornography "addiction" with her 82,000 TikTok followers — a cause Utah has long focused on, with lawmakers declaring porn a "public health crisis" in 2016.

Details: Porn and sex addiction are not included in diagnostic manuals because there isn't evidence of the same shift in brain activity that other, recognized addictions produce.

  • Multiple researchers have found that religiosity was a significant factor in whether subjects reported problems connected with pornography — particularly whether they believed they were addicted.
  • Studies have shown associations between porn and poor relationship outcomes, but a causal relationship isn't clear — and there hasn't been much research into couples' positive experiences with porn.

The big picture: Utah's cultural and political opposition to erotica is long-standing and fierce, from the Legislature's 2001 appointment of an official "porn czar" to an age verification law that prompted PornHub to cut off access here in April.

  • Objections to nudity often extend beyond porn; a Cache County art teacher was fired in 2017 after François Boucher's "Odalisque" appeared in flashcards of historic art he was using to teach color theory.

What's happening: With critics hailing "Oppenheimer" as a cinematic masterpiece of our age, Utah news media have written detailed content warnings describing the degrees of nudity.

Zoom in: Erin, here! When my husband and I saw "Oppenheimer" a couple of weeks ago in South Jordan, the teenager staffing the theater lobby volunteered a similar word of caution.

  • We didn't "need to worry about" swearing, he said — but he grimaced as he alerted us to "that scene."

The latest: We saw the movie anyway and found Oppenheimer's instruments of mass death to be generally more distressing than Florence Pugh's chest.

avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Salt Lake City.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Salt Lake City stories

Salt Lake Citypostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Salt Lake City.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more