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The role of ridicule in naked charity calendars

Turton-Turner, P 2007 , 'The role of ridicule in naked charity calendars' , Continuum, vol. 21, no. 3 , pp. 419-432 , doi:

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A rush to publication of nude charity calendars in recent years causes me to ask: why?
‘Why is it that small-time charity workers in remote regions around the world, rouse
big-time publicity in their fundraising activities?’ ‘Why do so many well-meaning
people want to play Lady Godiva?’ Curiously, the most successful campaigns are
usually associated with so-called women’s work such as children’s education, health or
morale building; situations all patently ‘squeaky clean’ objectives which I will
elaborate. Evidence suggests that naked charity is employed as a sort of ‘shock’ tactic
which results in unprecedented public curiosity and, in many instances, handsome
financial rewards for causes through extraordinary fundraising success. In this paper
I will address complexities and quandaries associated with understanding this type of
public female exposure, and explore its social and philosophical implications. ‘What is
the logic of signification underpinning naked charity calendars?’
I draw upon Kristeva’s psychoanalytic concept of abjection and Eco’s semiological theory of humour (both will be elaborated) to propose that interest is
aroused in naked charity by the carnivalesque nature of the spectacle and cathartic
effect. By that I mean that naked charity is both the object of curiosity and sanctioned
as acceptable by the public, if non-classic (abjected) bodies present as strategic jokes
within an erotic frame of reference. I will be arguing that naked charity is predicated
on the opposition between that non-classic (or, other) body and the classic idealized
body as exemplified by the traditional nude in the history of art; more recently
expressed by the stylized form of the neo-classic pin-up girl.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Turton-Turner, P
Journal or Publication Title: Continuum
Publisher: Routledge Journals
ISSN: 1030-4312
DOI / ID Number:
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