Lots of people are good at getting favorable press, but Gunther von Hagens is really good. He's the guy behind the "Body Worlds" exhibits that show dead, flayed, dissected human beings preserved in plastic. He's been on the road with this for years and it's surprising how favorable the press is considering the topic of his show. But he's upped the ante with a show featuring necrophilia. Wait, is it necrophilia if it's two dead people having sex with each other? I'm not sure. Anyway, he's got dead bodies having sex.
Over the years, we've had more than a few looks at media coverage of the various exhibits. Some media coverage has been fantastic, querying local religious leaders about what their religion teaches about the body and how it should be treated. Others never even broached the topic of religion at all. It's a classic GetReligion ghost story.
So let's look at this Reuters piece:
Body Worlds exhibitions, visited by 27 million people across the world, have been criticized for presenting entire corpses, stripped of skin to reveal the muscles and organs underneath, in lifelike and often theatrical positions.
Von Hagens has already triggered uproar with a new exhibit which shows just two copulating corpses.
German politicians called the current "Cycle of Life" show charting conception to old age "revolting" and "unacceptable" when it showed in Berlin earlier this year because it included copulating cadavers.
The way a plastinate is exhibited can vary from country to country to reflect local sensibilities. A vote of local employees decided that one of the copulating female cadavers should wear fewer clothes in Zurich than was the case in Berlin.
Ack! Get this story over to the folks at Reuters Faithworld! That phrase "have been criticized" is so passive. Who criticized the presentation of human corpses? Why did they criticize their presentation? And why did people say that copulating cadavers are "revolting" and "unacceptable"?
I'm sure this businessman will be taking his necrophilia show on the road. Hopefully we'll see some more substantive coverage of the exhibit when he does. Religions differ on whether the body is sacred or nothing more than a vessel of no importance. Either way, I'd be curious what different religions have to say about the ethics behind having sex without, well, explicit consent.
Anyway, assuming we'll see more mainstream coverage of this new exhibit, here are some good examples of how to do it well from Eric Gorski and Jeffrey Weiss. After all, this topic is central to art and culture in both the East and West.