BOOBS: AN AMERICAN OBSESSION (DVD) Image

Despite its (pardon the pun) titillating title and cover art, Nina Brownfield-Berry’s documentary offers a (pardon the next pun) broad overview of the American fixation with breasts.

The focus isn’t entirely academic – we hear a lot more from strippers and Internet models rather than historians, marketers or feminists. Many of the ladies on camera talk about using their breasts as tools to build their self-esteem and build their bank accounts.  There is also the allegation that breast implants have become a right of passage for the teenage daughters of many wealthy Texas families. Models Julie Strain and Melonie Charm and screen legend Mamie Van Doren turn up to confirm the mantra that bigger is better.

But the film avoids veering into Benny Hill territory by offering the more serious aspects of the subject.  Breast-related health problems, including cancer and back problems created by naturally oversized bosoms, are covered, and there is a brief interview with an advocate of public breast feeding.  There is also graphic footage of breast surgery procedures.

“Boobs” may have been (pardon one more pun) augmented with a historic overview of how cultural forces influenced the American view of breasts was shaped over the decades. It would have been helpful to understand why Americans have such a different understanding of the subject than other nationalities – a few women in the film note how they can sunbathe topless in other countries but are forbidden to do so in the U.S.

And as for the male perspective, the film could have easily done better than C-list dullard Tom Arnold and a bunch of obscure nerdy guys whose knowledge of breasts seems to rest on theory rather than hands-on practice.

Nonetheless, “Boobs” tries to offer some insight on a subject that inevitably causes giggles and consternation.

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