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Thank You, Orlando Bloom, For Showing Us That a Dick Is Just a Dick

The internet melted down over pictures of Orlando Bloom’s penis. That says more about how weirdly censorious we are about pictures of penises than Bloom’s appendage itself.

Mike Marsland/WireImage

Close study of the Orlando Bloom penis, or the alleged penis of Orlando Bloom (lest it is ultimately proved that there has been an—ouch—cut and paste job done on the actor’s manhood), shows a perky, springy thing that seems kind of half standing to attention, and half giving into the heat of his Italian sojourn with Katy Perry.

Its shape in the shots of him paddleboarding with the bikini’d pop star—new single, Rise, fnarr fnarr—brings to mind Nessie, poking her neck and head out of the waters of Loch Ness.

And there are a few others of him letting it all hang too: Bloom and his cock taking a walk on the beach, clambering over rocks, standing still, and most delightfully hanging at ease behind Perry on the paddleboard. She looks like a very happy Buddha indeed, as Orlando and his perky penis paddleboard-serenade her in the sparkling sunshine.

On Friday, it was reported that he was feeling understandably humiliated by the pictures being published. “Katy (Perry) has been very supportive and understanding of his frustration and anger,” a source told HollywoodLife.com.

First, the pictures emerged with a black box over the cock (or pixelated as if a horrible crime scene), and then—inevitably—the uncensored pictures surfaced emerged.

The responses to the Bloom cock are: a bunch of gifs showing general happy amazement at the hotness of Bloom and loveliness of his cock; a semi-anguished (though no one’s heart is really in it) examination of why are people OK with naked pictures of Orlando Bloom but not a woman; how terrible it is to objectify Orlando Bloom in this way; and, umm, more gifs.

Bloom’s is not the first celebrity penis to boing into public consciousness.

Oddly, the actor’s nemesis Justin Bieber was on holiday somewhere sunny, and was photographed nude last October. Then there is Jon Hamm, and his much-talked-about (and visible) desire not to wear underwear.

Hamm professed to find the merry and complimentary furore around his dick not in the slightest bit funny.

“Would you want people walking up to you and pointing at your dick?” he asked Men’s Fitness. “I can’t believe I’m still talking about this. But I’ve worn underwear every day of my life and the fact that I’m painted as this exhibitionist is a little annoying. It’s become a meme, I guess. Being someone who people want to photograph, you have to open yourself up to the positive and negative. It is what it is. If I get mad at it I’ll look like a douchebag. But it’s silly.”

This disavowal is very classy, very Jon Hamm. And perhaps he’s also speaking for Bloom and Bieber in his huffy disapproval, because—after all—they too have had their dicks photographed without their consent and no matter the compliments and online swooning, they feel humiliated.

We like to think that we live in a show-all culture, with few boundaries—but still the exhibition of a penis or vagina in public is considered too much. These are known as “private parts” for a reason. Despite showing ourselves on so many social media platforms, despite all the peacocking of our bodies, we are prudish and sensitive about showing it all off.

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When Michelangelo sculpted David, he sculpted a body in its entirety, phallus and all. But the penis today—whether woodland creature poking out of a Rick Owens tunic on the Parisian catwalk—or the perky appendage of a Hollywood star walking on a beach can be the great traitor of an otherwise perfectly sculpted body.

In a fascinating exhibition currently at New York’s Cheim & Read gallery, The Female Gaze, Part Two: Women Look at Men, some of the most intriguing images are of the penis, as seen by the women artists on display—sometimes a riot of colors, sometimes lost in a forest of pubic hair, sometimes a statue or strange bronze shaped as a smile, sometimes finding its way into a vagina in an almost abstract blur, sometimes looking like a beautiful, strange fruit, and sometimes shy and in shadow—a panoply of penises.

Any penis size fascists—of any gender and sexuality—immediately see the penis, and judge game over or game on. Any man worrying about size looks upon a publicly displayed penis, and feels immediately better or worse, about what is hanging in their own groin area.

But out of a sexual or pornographic context—or an artistic context, like the Cheim & Read show, or the stunning fetishization and celebration of the penis Robert Mapplethorpe executed for example—what’s most refreshing and normalizing about the Bloom penis sighting, is it showing the penis for what it is everyday to most men.

It’s just what it is: an organ. It’s not a pumping action love machine, it’s not a coy missile, it’s not shot in tasteful shadow. It’s not out to impress, or selling itself hard while being sent to someone you want to have sex with.

Most of the time it just hangs around; its own kind of unconfrontational presence. Bloom is having a lovely day on the beach, being nude, and Mr. Cock has come along for the sunny, devil-may-care ride. This is not a boastful or bragging dick, a dick ready for action or out to prove anything—it’s everyday dick.

Its sighting on Twitter may have elicited gasps and fanning in all those witty memes. But really, the great lesson of Bloom’s penis-gate—the nonchalance of its gait, its unashamed ordinariness, freed of bolstering and framing underwear or trunks—is that a dick is just a dick. Follow Bloom’s example and let yours get some innocent sun-loving fun this summer—though maybe check for telephoto lenses in the undergrowth.