“Oppenheimer,” Christopher Nolan’s latest epic biopic about the atomic bomb creator J. Robert Oppenheimer, is an intense and brilliant film.

Almost uniformly praised by film critics, Nolan uses crisp visuals, a foreboding pace and compelling storytelling to make “Oppenheimer” a masterpiece. There’s good reason Anne Thompson at the industry news site IndieWire put it on her short list for the Academy Awards’ best picture award.

As great as the film is, the sex scenes and prolonged nudity (which helped earn “Oppenheimer” an R rating) seem unnecessary, and given the use of religious elements during those scenes, also patently offensive. In “Oppenheimer,” Nolan chose to use the Hindu holy scripture Bhagavad Gita in a scene with sex and nudity.

This has already sparked protests in India.

“The Bhagwad Geeta is one of the most revered scriptures of Hinduism. Geeta has been the inspiration for countless sanyasis, brahmcharis and legends who live a life of self-control and perform selfless noble deeds. We do not know the motivation and logic behind this unnecessary scene on life of a scientist,” Uday Mahurkar, India’s information commissioner, wrote in a social media post addressed to Nolan.

He called the scene “a scathing attack on Hinduism” and said “this is a direct assault on religious beliefs of a billion tolerant Hindus.”

Americans don’t know a lot about Hinduism. Only 15% of American adults were able to identify the Vedas as a Hindu sacred text, per Pew Research Center.

Whether this actually happened in Oppenheimer’s life is a different question than whether or not it should have been displayed on screen. During an age of entertainment characterized by unsettling depictions of religious people, this seems particularly tone deaf.

Sex scenes also exacerbate the objectification of women. Women are more likely to be sexualized in film than are men. A report from Plan International said even in films with female leads, it’s the female leads who are more likely to be sexualized than male leads, or portrayed partially or fully nude.

“If the women are always sexualized and treated as objects (in film), then I don’t think we should be surprised that we have men who treat women that way,” Nicole Martins, associate professor in the Media School at Indiana University Bloomington, told the Deseret News in a 2017 article.

Some research suggests nudity in media can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and distress among women. “The current literature makes it clear that sexual objectification is both directly and indirectly linked to various mental health distresses and disorders in women, including anxiety, depression, disordered eating, and reduced experiences of flow and productivity,” Emma Rooney wrote for Applied Psychology Opus.

Actors and actresses have also expressed discomfort with sex scenes in film and television for a variety of reasons.

“You” and “Gossip Girl” actor Penn Badgley told Variety he wishes he didn’t have to do any sex scenes. When asked why, he said, “My fidelity in my relationship. It’s important to me.”

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When speaking about how she almost lost a role because she didn’t want to be nude, actress Rachel Bilson said, per Refinery29, “Movies can be sexy or sexual without showing things. It’s almost a deal breaker. The movie was rated R, and they like to put in nudity wherever they can, but I’m pretty strong willed and believe it can be avoided.”

Other actors and actresses have reflected on their previous nude or sex scenes with mixed feelings. “During an appearance on Dax Shepard’s ‘Armchair Expert’ podcast ... (Emilia) Clarke said she felt pressured to appear nude on ‘Game of Thrones’ early on, which led to other projects assuming she would be comfortable with going nude,” IndieWire reported.

When it comes to “Oppenheimer,” Nolan told Insider the sex scenes were an “essential part of the story.” And yet, in many nations the scenes were edited, including in the Middle East and India. It’s worth noting Nolan hasn’t had a film rated R for over two decades, since “Insomnia.” While the “Dark Knight” director normally avoids these scenes, he said they show Oppenheimer’s sexuality.

Oppenheimer reportedly was a womanizer who had issues with fidelity, which is what Nolan was trying to convey. But one wonders whether an artist as accomplished as Nolan could have found other ways to portray this part of Oppenheimer’s life.

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