The Raw Ones, a glimpse into the nudist world of the past. I was unsure how to describe this film. It is listed as a documentary. It views like a Planet Earth style nature with a scenes of activity with background music interspersed with narration. It sounds like a polemic against censorship of erotic literature, art or the naked body. It is a glimpse into the past world of nudism.
In some ways The Raw Ones is a contradiction. A person simply looking for “tits and ass” could well be drawn to this film’s many naked bodies. However, there is little or no hint of sexuality or sexual overtones in this movie. The people in the film while naked engage in a vast arrange of ordinary non sexual activities. The narration with its strident attack against censorship of the erotic or sexual. The narration seems out of place based on what is happening on the screen. People are shown trampolining, sailing swimming, eating, running, diving, playing horseshoes, and reading. All normal everyday activities but they are clothes free.
The narration however, spends little time discussing those activities as a part of the freedom and liberation of nudism. Scant attention is given to the healthy benefits of this clothes free life. Instead the film seems focused on the battle against censorship of nude erotic art and literature. This may be indicative of a shift in approach highlighted in the book Naked1) Naked A Cultural History of American Nudism.
The nudist movement that began in the 1930s promoting health, nature, and family transformed in the late 1960s and early 1970s into an assortment of organizations that challenged the heteronormative boundaries of sexual liberalism. – Naked A Cultural History of American Nudism Brian Hoffman
The Raw Ones provides a perfect contrast between the nudism of the sixties and today. It is also clear from this movies is how different nudism and nudity is approached in the age of social media. It is also instructive that the movie does not, could not anticipate the existence of social media and high degree of censorship that accompanies it.
There are some quote gems to be found in the narration among the quotes of Supreme Court Justices and French philosophers. They make the film worth watching all the way through if you get tired of the narration. Some examples below.
Social nudism is mainly an outlook on life rather than an instinctive urge. Nudists, on the whole, are distinctly more ethical and social-minded than members of the general populace, and they should not be confused with isolated and invariably severely disturbed individuals who get into trouble with the law for exhibitionistic or voyeuristic acts.”
Albert Ellis psychologist quoted in the movie The Raw Ones
“We believe in the essential wholesomeness of the human body and regard it neither as an object of shame nor a subject for degrading exploitation. We believe that sunlight and air are vital to human life and well-being, and that exposure of the entire body to these elements is desirable at such time and at such places as are fitting and proper for the purpose. We believe that we are entitled to enjoy the benefits of such exposure, without interference as long as we do not cause injury to our fellow citizens. Nudism is potentially one of the steps to greater human acceptance and, therefore, human awareness and growth. – American Sunbathing Association quoted in The Raw Ones
One challenge for me watching The Raw Ones is the the complete absence of any black or brown bodies. For all the clothes free bodies on screen, not a since person of color was represented. We know they existed in the nudist community. It suggests that while the golden age of nudism was liberated it was still segregated. Apparently the liberation and free the movie proclaims and is not available to all.
One wonders if this movie could be made in the US today as in the movie Le Vive Nu there is some childhood nudity. In the end The Raw Ones feels dated. While it may have been pushing the envelope when it was first released, the intention behind the film seems out of step with the contemporary world of nudism. So much has changed, so much has not, and so much has gone backwards. Still the film represents a glimpse into the world of nudism of days gone by.
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