The OED defines “swanky” as stylishly luxurious, an ostentatious display of wealth or sophistication. If so, Academy Award-winning Hilary Swank is a misnamed movie star. Swank may be her real name, but its Cole Porter connotations live in a different world from Hilary. She is famous for her androgynous roles in Boys Don’t Cry (a transgendered teen) and Million Dollar Baby (a pro boxer). As a heavy-handed publicity ploy for her upcoming release, still another biopic about Amelia Earhart, Hilary coincidentally confessed to Marie Claire (not quite “swank” but trying) that she sleeps in the nude. We quote:
My boyfriend’s son is six years old, and you wonder at what age you should stop walking around nude. Every morning he comes into the bedroom, and you’re just nude. But he doesn’t look twice; he doesn’t think about it yet.”
What surprised us was the tempest in a teacup caused by this rather innocent remark. Headlines depicted psychologists as either angry or upset with Hilary. Claimed one:
Hilary, you’re not this child’s mum. What if things don’t work out with your present boyfriend? Who knows what his [the son] psycho-sexual adjustment may be. It’s not a good thing.
We don’t get it. Is seeing his father’s lover in the nude, and presumably his father, bad for a young boy? Why keep him in the dark that women are built differently from men? Why hide the female body from the lad? When yours truly (Michael) was about four, I had two girl friends. We formed a petite menage a trois and explored what anatomical differences we could find. This did not turn me into a sex fiend, but it whetted my appetite. Which is what really surprises me: How come the six-year old boy “doesn’t look twice,” or “think about it yet”? We hope he isn’t erotically retarded. But our guess is that he does notice but just hides it. Maybe he is a better actor than Hilary!
Another take on the nude thing comes from Malina Akerman. The tall, blonde, Swedish-born actress usually plays what she terms “wild girls.” She grew up in Canada, became a celebrity model at seventeen, and then moved to Hollywood. She has taken some steamy parts, such as Silk Spectre in Watchmen, in which she wore a skin-tight leather outfit. She did a notorious menage a trois scene in an episode of HBO’s Entourage. In her latest, the widely panned Couples Retreat, Malina plays a soccer mom on vacation in Hawaii. It’s an update of the sixties Bob and Carroll, Ted and Alice, without the sex. Malina, we have some advice for you: Don’t play any more straight roles. Show that body. When asked by a reporter how she handles nude scenes with such ease, Malina replied:
In Sweden, nudity is natural. It’s not considered sexual. We’ve grown up with boobies on television. People are topless on the beach. My parents would sometimes walk naked from the bedroom to the bathroom. You don’t blink because it’s so natural.
We like that answer. It’s real swanky!