THE BLOG
01/02/2016 16:38 GMT | Updated 01/02/2017 05:12 GMT

War and Peace and Penis

There was a penis on War and Peace this week, and apparently this was a big deal.

Before you faint in horror and disgust, let me stress that the penis was neither 'ready to rock & roll' nor in a setting where it looked likely to become so. It was a boring, run-of-the-mill flaccid penis which I believe had just been taken swimming by its owner. I say 'believe' because I didn't see the episode. I should probably track it down in the interests of journalistic integrity, but I frankly can't be bothered.

Because it's only a penis, for God's sake.

I've never understood how penises manage to maintain their status as being somehow remarkable enough to comment upon in the media despite their ubiquity in the real world. It doesn't even seem to be a taboo that gets weaker with time; in the 70s and 80s, penises would sometimes crop up in shows likeAuf Weidersehen, Pet without anyone getting particularly flustered, yet here we are in 2016 and a fleeting glimpse of one post-watershed is still enough to prompt column inches (if you'll pardon the expression).

Even Game of Thrones, for all of its enthusiasm for close-up head crushings, depressing child burnings and gleeful female full frontals, often resorts to Austin Powers-style object placement or shadowy implication when it comes to showing actual, unapologetic dick. I can't help worrying that this is pandering to the (male) section of the audience who might throw up their hands in horror if confronted by one unexpectedly.

Seriously, if you're a male who is not grown up enough to deal with male nudity as just one of the elements likely to crop up in a film or TV show aimed at adults, (yet are perfectly happy with female nudity), I'd argue that you're not grown up enough to be watching films and TV shows aimed at adults in the first place. Go check out a footballing blunders compilation or something. You'll enjoy it more. Seriously, just bugger off and let the grown-ups have a conversation without having to put up with your pantomime cringing and inability to relate to your own body.

As a writer and director I work largely in horror, which is also a strangely penis-free zone in most circumstances. When penises do crop up in modern horror, they often seem to be severed prior to appearing onscreen (as in Piranha 3D) which apparently renders them harmless and acceptable. The idea that the image of a severed penis is somehow less shocking than the image of one still attached to a human being says something pretty weird and more than slightly depressing about the cinematic audience and the studios' expectations of them.

Perhaps we need a few more pioneering penises in our prime-time, just to desensitise the audience a little and right a historical wrong. Perhaps we could flash them subliminally throughout evening programming, so the audience is able to build up a tolerance for the shocking appendage without consciously registering what's going on.

(At this point, I had a long internal debate about including a joke about how PMQs had been quietly trialling this system for years, but decided that might be a cheap shot even for me and so I edited it out).

Maybe one day, we'll have prime-time penises without them being newsworthy. Until that happy day comes, just try to remain calm if confronted by one on the TV or cinema screen. Do not make unnecessary noise or start shouting. Do not perpetuate the idea that this is somehow interesting or remarkable.

Do not go and write a column on a popular website -

Ah, dammit.