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Why Certain Naked And Afraid Staffers Are Called The 'Blur Man Group'

The contestants on "Naked and Afraid" do their best not to show any fear on the show. But the other part of that title is on display all the time. 

It's no secret that in every episode, people are dropped into the wilderness with not even the clothes on their backs. As a cable show, everything's blurred out, so viewers can't actually see anything. But the same can't be said for the people whose job is to blur out such material. 

It's easy to overlook that, yes, someone's job is to blur people's private parts, and The New York Times dove into that gig in 2016. The paper visited a Sherman Oaks production office that looks like any other, but inside are people who look at naked participants all day long. They get notes to ensure the blurs are just right, which leads to humorous directives like "Boobs blur insufficient" and "More opaque crotch blur for him." Shaun O'Steen, a member of the self-dubbed Blur Man Group, admitted it's a little weird, "I mean, what job can you say, 'Oh, my God, look at that penis,' and not have to worry about H.R.?"

While some have long been part of the team, O'Steen revealed that many people aren't cut out for looking at naked people all day. One person didn't even last two weeks. Those who last become numb to seeing that kind of content all the time, which is also the case for players, as Bulent Gurcan admitted, but while it sounds funny, there are serious repercussions in not getting a blur just right.  

The Blur Man Group is a line of defense from lawsuits

There are certainly humorous anecdotes associated with this line of work. For example, some contestants, particularly men, have been known to make requests, such as asking for a larger blur around the groin region. But this job is harder than it might seem. There's a lot into ensuring a blur adequately covers everything it needs to without distracting from what's transpiring onscreen. Shaun O'Steen claimed, "A blur is not necessarily appealing." And before an episode goes to air, it must pass muster from supervisor Adam Burns, whose job is to detect what might have been missed. He was quoted as saying, "I can recognize a nipple from 600 yards in the background behind a leaf at this point."

"Naked and Afraid" definitely kicked off a trend of naked-based reality shows, like "Buying Naked" and "Dating Naked." The latter was actually a subject of a lawsuit, which was ultimately dismissed, from a woman claiming the blur didn't adequately cover her crotch. "Naked and Afraid" executive producer Steve Rankin admitted, "It's something we live in constant fear of." Fortunately, members of the Blur Man Group are good at their jobs, despite how tedious the job can become. The work basically consists of going over every single frame to ensure the blur captures everything, and it's mentioned how it can take 50 hours to blur one whole episode. 

The Blur Man Group seem to know what they're doing. To date, no unsavory parts of the human anatomy have made it onto people's television screens. But given the sheer volume of nude footage the crew has had to sort through, it's safe to say the "naked" aspect of the series definitely isn't faked.