I recently returned from Vienna, Austria, and was intrigued to see this report from Reuters that the Leopold Museum has decided to self-censor posters throughout the city advertising its exhibit on male nudity. As it happens, I encountered these posters during my stay: they depict three male soccer players, naked except for their socks, standing in the middle of a confetti-filled stadium, facing the camera in full-frontal glory.
The first time I saw this poster, as I walked from my hotel to the U-Bahn station at Schottenring, I did a double-take. I realized that, while I don’t know exactly what the laws are in New York regarding nude advertisements, I certainly had never seen one walking down Broadway. I wouldn’t call it culture shock — more of a quick poke, actually. Austria generally has a more lax attitude toward nudity, despite being a nation that is very particular about etiquette and manners (and this despite its more well known reputation as a laid-back version of Germany).
Those attitudes notwithstanding, the Viennese public was evidently perturbed by the posters, and the museum agreed to cover the men’s genitals with a large red bar (running horizontally, in case you’re wondering).
“Many people told us that they wanted to or had to protect their children,” said a museum spokesman. Some Viennese warned that “if we won’t cover it they would go there with a brush and they would cover it with colour. Already somebody did that.”
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