Ghost in the Shell: Making Nudity Mainstream

Nudity: The state or fact of being naked.

Mainstream: The ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal or conventional; the dominant trend in opinion, fashion, or the arts.

I never finished the original Ghost in the Shell (1995).

At the time I watched it, I felt the nudity came across as gratuitous and, thus, decided to stop watching. If there is one thing I don’t like in movies, shows, books, etc., it is content that seems to be there for no other reason than that it can be.

When I had a better understanding of how to judge when something is gratuitous, I wasn’t able to give Ghost in the Shell the second chance that I wanted to — I no longer possessed the movie.

One day I’ll get the movie again and watch the whole thing. I’m sure I’ll like it. Anime and science fiction are two of my favorite things.

Image result for ghost in the shell 1995

Earlier today, a new trailer for the American adaptation of Ghost in the Shell (2017) was released.

I could say a lot about this trailer (the majority of it positive — I want to see this movie) but what I want to focus on in this post, is this:

The fact that Major fights in a state of semi-nudity.

The reason I say “semi-nudity” is:

Since Major’s body is robotic, she is not naked in the same sense that a flesh-and-blood person would naked. And her “nudity” isn’t as explicit as it could be. For example: She has no nipples:

Image result for ghost in the shell 2017 major

What is the point of Major looking like she’s naked?

Is it for sake of Ghost in the Shell‘s male fans?

Or does Major’s nudity represent something else?

Something else like:

A desire to be free from restraints — the “restraints” being, in this case, clothes.

A desire to be more in touch with the human aspect of who she is by being, as much as it is possible to be, in the state that not just she, but all of us, came into the world in: Naked.

Or is Major’s nudity a tool: A means to make people drop their guard and, thus, underestimate her. (More on this in a moment.)

I don’t know.

But: What I can imagine is this:

Movies like Ghost in the Shell will lead to more of an acceptance of nudity in American culture.

The more nudity that is shown in popular culture, the more people won’t see the naked body as taboo.

I think that’s a good thing.

This is why:

God created the naked body and said it is “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) Adam and Eve were “naked without shame.” (Genesis 2:25) It’s not possible to live like Adam and Eve lived in the Garden (Genesis 3:7), but the naked body is still “very good” — we just don’t always see its goodness. (The next time you are naked, ask yourself: “Do I like what I see?”)

More of an acceptance of nudity will lead to more people realizing the inherent goodness of their body, since their environment is no longer telling them to see their body as something shameful and, thus, in need of covering.

More of an acceptance of nudity will mean that the naked body is no longer associated, to the extent that it currently is, with sex. People will look at, for example, a woman’s breast, and no longer see it as purely sexual — people will see that there is more to a woman’s breast than the sexual pleasure it can elicit: People will see that a woman’s breast serves a beautiful purpose.


My one criticism of Ghost in the Shell‘s nudity stems from a question:

Is Major’s nudity a tool: A means to make people drop their guard and, thus, underestimate her?

I don’t like the notion of a person using their nudity as a means to an end.

On the one hand: It could be said that nudity is always a means to an end. A person gets naked because they believe being naked will give them what, or who, they want, whatever or whoever that is.

On the other hand: A person who is naked in combat could be counting on being objectified — counting on being seen as a means of experiencing pleasure, not seen as a human being who can snap a neck and put a bullet right between the eyes — in order to gain an advantage. And I believe that sells nudity, and by extension the person who is naked, short.


Because there is more to a person who is naked than the sexual feelings their nudity can elicit.

Because a person being naked for the purpose of gaining an advantage in combat is implicitly saying:

My sexuality is the most important aspect of me. See “the goods,” not the human being underneath them.

Which goes against what I see as one of the messages of Ghost in the Shell:

Look beyond the “heart of stone” that is Major’s metal body, and see the “heart of flesh” that is Major’s soul: The “ghost” in her shell. (Ezekiel 36:26)

Image result for ghost in the shell major in the water


11 thoughts on “Ghost in the Shell: Making Nudity Mainstream

      1. I was thinking this over too and I decided that maybe the point of her being in the nude is to draw attention away from her body. You know how folks can wear a lot of snazzy clothes and makeup and whatnot. She’s completely bare. And by doing that I think they’re trying to re-direct focus to the “ghost.” I don’t know, maybe I’m looking for something that isn’t there. But that’s my thinking.

      2. “She’s completely bare. And by doing that I think they’re trying to re-direct focus to the “ghost.'”

        That’s a good point.

        I think they could be trying to re-direct focus to her “ghost.”

        That’s kind of how I feel about Cortana, another naked woman in science fiction: I think she’s naked in order to draw attention away from her body. I feel like Cortana is saying “Now that you see ___, look at ___,” and it’s always possible that Major could be saying that, too.

  1. I think the Major’s attitude towards her own nudity is part of her overall attitude towards her own body, which itself is a synthetic construct, the latest in a series of bodies that have been built for her as old ones wear out in the line of duty.

      1. Granted, it could be a convention of the times, or part of her personality, but I think, on some level the Major doesn’t view her body as part of herself. It’s like an article of clothing, or a tool that she uses. In some versions of the story she’s even formally classified as one of the best users of cybernetic bodies, citing that her body is itself a machine that she wields. Her consciousness has been transferred repeatedly from one body to the next. It’s no different from a policeman swapping out his car after it becomes damaged in the line of duty. At one point in the original movie she even reflects that if she ever quit her job at Section 9 she would have to give back the enhanced body she now has, and purchase a new, retail body. Only her mind, her ghost, truly belong to her. Everything else is a manufactured product that has been purchased and can be replaced.

      2. Ah, I see.

        Thanks for explaining.

        I’m looking forward to seeing the live-action movie, and finishing the anime when I can get my hands on it.

      3. I admit, while I think the live action movie will be fun, I suspect they may oversimplify the plot.
        I greatly enjoyed the anime movie, and the TV series, Stand Alone Complex, which expanded upon the characters and world of Ghost in the Shell rather nicely.

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