Me and My Penis is a British documentary which was aired on Channel 4 at 10 PM on Tuesday. What made it a landmark program was the fact that it featured, for the first time in British television history, and the first time in terrestrial television history, shots of erect penises. Opinions are divided over whether this was good or bad.
This documentary shows British artist Ajamu X exploring the world of male sexuality in-depth and talking to men about all sorts of issues specific to their genitalia. In all, eight men participated in this work by the artist. Things such as masturbation and erection which are usually not the subject of ordinary television programming were discussed freely.
Pushing the Envelope
This by itself may not have made the documentary a unique one. But Ajamu X went one step further and asked these eight men to show their penises, including in erect condition, and photographed it. Shots of these erect members of the participants were also shown to the television viewers.
The reason why this documentary was allowed to be aired by British authorities, specifically Ofcom â which regulates content on television â was due to two main reasons. First, the program was aired at 10 PM in the night, considered a safe time for adult-themed programming. The other reason is a little more complex.
According to Ofcom regulations, "images and/or language of a strong sexual nature which is broadcast for the primary purpose of sexual arousal or stimulation," are not allowed on television, British newspaper Mirror reported. Since the genitalia is shown in the program for reasons that have nothing to do with titillation, the documentary got the go-ahead.
"This shatters one of the final no-go areas on terrestrial TV, because regulations forbid an erect penis being shown in a sexual context," a person on the inside of TV business informed The Sun. "But as these aroused private parts are shown in an entirely artistic context, filming them doesn't break any rules."
The artist at the center of this project, Ajamu X, has worked on such themes before. His work has been featured in exhibitions dealing with the themes of gender identity and sexuality. Channel 4 too has a reputation of exploring subjects considered taboo for television.
They have, in the past, broadcast documentaries about bestiality and pedophilia. The latter topic was explored through an interaction with a man who confessed to having pedophilic emotions but had never engaged in any act of that nature.
Ajamu X told Metro that his aim is to take away discussion about the male organ normal. "Lots of countries actually celebrate the penis in terms of its fertility, its aliveness, and energy. But in this country the d**k is still seen as pornographic and my work is there to reclaim the d**k from that space," the photographer said. "I want the images in the film to normalise the penis; especially the erection. By keeping it taboo we give it too much power and don't allow men to be vulnerable."