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Bag Reel

In the 1990's, a trend began to emerge in Hollywood, that of male full-frontal nudity in feature films.

Ewan Macgregor and Harvey Keitel showed their dingles in several movies apiece, and it caught on quickly. Oliver Stone's football flick Any Given Sunday featured more johnsons than a Philadelphia phone book, Kevin Costner recently lobbied to display his little postman in the film For Love of the Game, and Kevin Bacon served up his sausage in 1998's Wild Things.

Some say this is a good thing; after all, it may point to approaching equality between the sexes in Hollywood, a breaking down of barriers, the end of a silly taboo. Yet, as with all good things, there comes a price.

I speak of the 1997 Showtime film, Lolita, starring Jeremy Irons, Melanie Griffith, and Frank Langella.

A whole lot of Frank Langella.

See, there's a scene in Lolita where Frank Langella (yes, the chubby old guy) runs (yes, runs) toward camera with his robe open, treating us to a well-framed shot of his bouncing testicles.

You know, when I sat down to view the film, there was no indication that at some point during the feature, I would have to look at Frank Langella's jiggling scrotum. There were warnings, of course, for nudity, explicit language, and adult situations, but the words "Giant Flailing Nutsack" were notably absent. And, as the scene approached, at no point did Jeremy Irons say to Frank: "Say, why don't you run over there with your apple-bag jumping around like the oversized purse of a woman trying to catch a train?"

Now, I am not one to question a director's artistic vision, but I wondered, shortly after vomiting, why there was a need to present the Tony Award Winner's hairy, pendulous balls smacking and jouncing against one another in a tight close-up.

Was the director afraid we wouldn't fully comprehend the idea that Mr. Langella was running without this visual clue? Did focus groups, after screening the film, repeatedly mention that the scene would have made more sense if only they could have witnessed Langella's wrinkly, grizzled nuts swinging around while he ran?

My real concern, naturally, is that while I have this image forever burned into my brain, there is little or no chance that Mr. Langella will never have the image of my testicles, bouncing and rebounding like lottery balls burned into his brain.

And this seems unfair, if you really think about it.