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When I was an adolescent, the only reliable source of breast visuals was National Geographic, a magazine then devoted, as far as I can tell, to doing feature articles on every primitive tribe in the world in which the women went around topless. When I was in junior high school, my friends and I were extremely interested in these articles, specifically the photographs that had captions like "A young woman of the Mbonga tribe prepares supper using primitive implements." We would spend long periods of time staring at the young woman's implements, and we'd wonder how come we'd had the incredibly bad luck of being born in the one society in the entire world (judging from National Geographic) wherein women wore a lot of clothes.
Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys

So here's this highly acclaimed motion picture about a pre-industrial tribe and its customs. Perhaps the film details this tribe's interactions with white folks, or takes place entirely before they arrive. Either way, it's critically acclaimed for its insights into a simpler and more harmonious way of life.

Only there's a part of you that can't help thinking the entire film is nothing but an excuse to have lots of people running around with few or no clothes on.

In fact, almost all PG-13– or R-rated movies owe their ability to show any skin to old nudist films in this vein, such as Holiday in the Sun or Garden of Eden. The trope originally concerned innocent and rather tame nudist documentaries; when the nudists of the time successfully fought for the right to show nudity on the silver screen for nudist films under the justification that it wasn't sexual, filmmakers used the new loophole to make hundreds of B Movies using the setting to allow them to show flesh.

Things such as The House on Bare Mountain or The Beast that Killed Women nominally took place at a nudist colony or whatnot, but dropped this outside random shots of naked (or usually just topless) women — and never, ever, naked men.

This trope is dominant on the Australian TV network SBS.

Sometimes this is like Innocent Fanservice Girl on a culture-wide scale. See also Poor Man's Porn for when National Geographic Nudity is used for more titillating purposes.

Examples of National Geographic Nudity include:

Anime & Manga

  • Several female demons in Inuyasha don't bother with covering up and nobody makes a big deal of it. In an earlier chapter Kagome is bathing nude, though that scene might to some degree have been Fan Service.

Art

  • Lampshaded, along with a hearty helping of Deliberate Values Dissonance, in a humorous postcard from the 1950s showing, first, a white couple in the Victorian era (a suit and hat for the man and a hoop-skirted dress for the woman) staring disapprovingly at an Indian (Native American) couple wearing nothing but loincloths. Then it shows, a century later, the Indians in all-covering Victorian garb, and now they're the ones staring disapprovingly at the great-grandchildren of the white Victorian couple, who are parading around in swimsuits that bare their arms, legs, and midriffs.
  • Many figure-drawing books that contain photographs of nude models will have about twice as many female models than male ones, whose breasts, buttocks, and pubic regions will be photographed in full view in extreme poses, sometimes to the point of cropping out arms, faces, and anything below the knees, but the models' bodies are all young, fit, and slim, while the male models are of varying ages and body types and posed modestly. Older books are even more extreme, with the female figure being extensively featured completely nude in a variety of dramatic poses, photographed from every angle with close-ups of breasts and buttocks, and the male figure being modeled by one or two gentlemen in inert standing poses, wearing some form of underwear and with their faces censored out.

Comics

  • Richard Corben's Den.
  • Sur les Terres d'Horus: Les Disciples de Maât by Isabelle Dethan is an adventure/detective series set in Ancient Egypt at the time of Ramses II, when it was customary for female servants to be dressed topless.
  • Les Passagers du Vent by Francois Bourgeon, a historical adventure series set in the late 18th century and involving the West African slave trade. Also a bit of white nudity, but in both cases usually female only.

Film

  • The Mission
  • Rapa Nui
  • Apocalypto
  • At Play in the Fields of the Lord
  • End Of The Spear
  • The Jewel Of The Nile
  • Walkabout (though for most of the film, there's only one tribesman)
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy is another example, although it is a comedy. The protagonist (a Bushman from the Kalahari Desert in Africa) wears only a loincloth that covers his genitals but bares his buttocks. He sets out on a quest across the continent for reasons too complicated to mention here, precipitating a (for him) fascinating voyage of discovery and nonstop Values Dissonance. Along the way he sees many non-Bushman Africans, both black and white, and is puzzled by their "multicolored skins," and the fact they often have different colored "skins" on different parts of their body (i.e., clothes). He also spies a woman in her underwear (a lacy white bra and slip) and wonders why she has covered herself with cobwebs.
  • The French animated movies Kirikou and The Sorceress and Kirikou and the Wild Beast. Award-winning children's movies in Europe; can't be shown in the States without an R rating.
  • The Emerald Forest
  • Ten Canoes
  • Como Era Gostoso o Meu Francês, or How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman
  • As mentioned above, 1950s-1960s nudist "documentaries" such as Blaze Starr Goes Nudist or Garden of Eden take the subculture version of this. The flood of random nudity these films brought was influential in loosening the rules until these movies were all but forgotten afterward — although there are the occasional throwbacks, such as Nudist Colony of the Dead (1991) or Nudist Camp Zombie Massacre (2010).
  • Although a fictional setting, applies to Avatar, where the Na'vi only wear a loincloth most of the time. Although some strategically placed necklaces/scabbards often hide the females' breasts, there are several scenes where they are clearly displayed.
  • The 1984 film version of The Bounty features Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins and a fair number of topless Tahitian women. This film was, after all, much more dedicated to historical accuracy than the earlier movies.
  • The 2010 documentary "Babies"
  • Shaka Zulu
  • Medicine Man has several scenes with almost or completely naked men, women and children, including a pair of shots of a line of women buttocks when said women are helping the heroine in her scientific research. But since all naked people are Native American, the movie got a PG-13 rating.
  • Referenced in the Peter Jackson version of King Kong, when the executives to whom Denham is speaking ask if his picture will have "boobies" in it. He is less than amused.
  • Papillon, after the titular character is adopted by some South American tribespeople.
  • Quest for Fire, set in the Stone Age.
  • The Clan of the Cave Bear, set in prehistoric times, does this in the Clan Meeting scene, with several female members of other clans casually bare-breasted.

Live Action TV

  • Tribe was a series on The BBC focusing on a white man attempting to live with a variety of tribal cultures. He is forced to be naked on several occasions, and the camera generally avoids showing his genitals. The tribespeople, on the other hand, don't get this.
    • Similarly, BBC Three's Last Man Standing and Last Woman Standing feature westerners visiting various tribes in order to compete in different forms of combat. Some of the tribes are naked or nearly naked, but the contestants aren't usually required to imitate them.

Newspaper Comics

  • Referenced in FoxTrot as Roger believes Jason to be looking at these kinds of pictures after locking himself in his room having come home with an armload of National Geographic magazines (and is pleased, since Jason is still in the "girls are icky" phase). As it turned out, Jason bought the magazines because they documented the old Apollo missions.

Western Animation

  • Averted in an episode of The Simpsons where Homer travels as a missionary to a remote Pacific Island to teach the tribe living there about the Bible. He is disappointed not to find the female nudity he expects, so the tribe's chief tells him that since his people converted to Christianity, they have been too ashamed to go naked. Another tribesman then points across the bay and notes: "The naked women are all on that island." Homer looks forlornly toward the other island, from which he can hear female giggling.
    • In the first episode, Lisa is in a play on Christmas in different countries, and does a tribal dance wearing nothing but a tribal mask, a coconut bra and a grass skirt.
  • In Family Guy, when Chris runs away and joins the Peace Corps, he ends up with a tribe that wears only loincloths. When he dons one, the chief points at his crotch and exclaims "Oh my God, Chris! I can see your genitals!" When Chris reacts with embarrassment, the men laugh and the chief continues "It's OK. You can see everybody's junk!"
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