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April 18, 2012 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Hey. Everyone. STOP TAKING THIS PICTURE.
posted by Sebmojo (398 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
It is the most effective way to get both breasts and buttocks in the same picture. It is cynical and manipulative and stupid and obvious, but it ain't gonna stop any time soon.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:28 PM on April 18, 2012 [14 favorites]


Something sexual objects something something art something advertising something something fart in your general direction.
posted by swift at 9:29 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


She has perky cat ears.

And heels.

...just...what? I expected better Nolan.
posted by The Whelk at 9:35 PM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Valid, but the Aeon Flux one doesn't really seem to belong to me. One of the reason (aside from titilation) that this pose works is to give the impression of motion in a still image I think. You're supposed to imagine the "hero's rise" in the turn-to-face-and-fight.

Still, the rest of it is totally valid.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:35 PM on April 18, 2012


I was expecting duckface. Are you saying that duckface is still OK? You're wrong.
posted by Blue Meanie at 9:35 PM on April 18, 2012 [13 favorites]


*looks over shoulder*
posted by unliteral at 9:37 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


But hey, they have to show both buns and boobs - they are Strong Female Characters!
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:40 PM on April 18, 2012 [17 favorites]


Ass, side boob, and an alluring stare will always trump composition aesthetics.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:41 PM on April 18, 2012


Escher Girls!
posted by maudlin at 9:41 PM on April 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


...just...what? I expected better Nolan.

The author also notes that not even Whedon's female characters escape this pose but my question is how much do directors and other people who artistically helm projects involved in the marketing that usually features these poses? Does Nolan sign off on each poster and/or trailer? If he were to make a hubbub about them would the marketing department change it? I actually think there is a possibility that Nolan might have the success at this point to make such demands but I'd be interested to know specifically how much input people like him have/could have.
posted by sendai sleep master at 9:41 PM on April 18, 2012


You know who loves that pose? Chiropractors.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:42 PM on April 18, 2012 [12 favorites]


Is this something I would have to have bunz n' boobz to understand?
posted by cmoj at 9:42 PM on April 18, 2012


I'm glad to see these women being pro-active about their thoracic mobility. It's very important.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:42 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was expecting duckface. Are you saying that duckface is still OK? You're wrong.
posted by Blue Meanie at 9:35 PM on April 18


Why do people do this? Very close people to me do it all the time and they tell me they can't help it - but no one has ever given me a good reason WHY they make that stupid face.
posted by Brent Parker at 9:44 PM on April 18, 2012


Yeah, I don't see what the problem is. It's an alluring pose, and if there's one place I expect to see alluring poses, it's on movie posters.
posted by mantecol at 9:45 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes all photos must be of the fronts of people!
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:46 PM on April 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


Yeah the pose is annoying big standard marketing and a lazy cliche but the actual outfit has ...cat ....ears. She could be leading the armies of the revolution over a hill in the driving rain, face foward in a moment of divine wonder ...but she's still wearing cat ears.
posted by The Whelk at 9:46 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


This strikes me as just a lot of meaningless posturing.

Also, the article is not that good.
posted by Aquaman at 9:48 PM on April 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


There is a front-of-the-book feature on this stance in the May Cosmo (US) encouraging women to stand this way at bars and clubs and, I forget where else, Starbucks, possibly, titled ""The one pose that drives men crazy."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:49 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I don't see what the problem is. It's an alluring pose, and if there's one place I expect to see alluring poses, it's on movie posters.

Goddam but I don't want to have this fight again.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:52 PM on April 18, 2012 [45 favorites]


I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the pose is not the problem (for reasons described by Senor Cardgage). Pants applied with an air brush, however....

There are quite a few movie posters arranged as follows:

O O
o I o

Where the big O's are some cowboy's ass, the little O's are the back of his knees and the I is a man dressed in black in the classic quick draw pose. Sigmund Freud could work himself into quite a lather over this, but I don't think it's particularly sexual. Replace the typical old west cowboy costume with, oh, something the chippendale dancers might wear and it's a very different poster. VERY. DIFFERENT.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:53 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why on Earth are the supposedly badass heroines always wearing high heels? I've never gotten that. I know that we're always going for maximum sexiness and everything, but even for the most chauvinistic among us there must be a line past which the impracticality of the sexy sexiness starts to detract from enjoyment. I just can't see how the sexiness increase from wearing heels (little to none) outweighs the voice in the viewer's head screaming "SHE WOULDN'T CHOOSE TO JUMP ACROSS THOSE ROOFTOPS IN HEELS, THAT'S ASININE, WHY ISN'T SHE JUST WEARING BOOTS OR SOMETHING" at full volume.
posted by IAmUnaware at 9:53 PM on April 18, 2012 [39 favorites]


Sigmund Freud could work himself into quite a lather over this, but I don't think it's particularly sexual.

This is a fantastic collection of words in a particular order.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:54 PM on April 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


no hamburger.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:55 PM on April 18, 2012


Where the big O's are some cowboy's ass, the little O's are the back of his knees and the I is a man dressed in black in the classic quick draw pose.

Like these?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:55 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are quite a few movie posters arranged as follows:

If it's so common, then give us a bunch of contemporary examples.
posted by hermitosis at 9:56 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why on Earth are the supposedly badass heroines always wearing high heels? I've never gotten that. I know that we're always going for maximum sexiness and everything, but even for the most chauvinistic among us there must be a line past which the impracticality of the sexy sexiness starts to detract from enjoyment.

I don't know, when Pepper Potts/Gwenth Paltrow was doing all that running at the end of Iron Man, i was amazed and delighted that she was doing it all in impractical heels. I don't ever wear heels, but damn that was pretty hot.
posted by hopeless romantique at 9:57 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why does anyone create or want to view such filth?
posted by TheKM at 9:57 PM on April 18, 2012


I thought this was pretty funny.

I expected better Nolan.

Lol. Yeah, he's really shown an afinity for female characters in his films.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:58 PM on April 18, 2012 [15 favorites]


shakespeherian's link is basically my point -- it is actually MOSTLY women's legs/butts we see in these posters, and it is totally a physical objectification thing.
posted by hermitosis at 9:58 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why do people do this? Very close people to me do it all the time and they tell me they can't help it - but no one has ever given me a good reason WHY they make that stupid face.

I think most people think it'll make their faces thinner, more defined and look more photogenic - and maybe they think it looks quirky and cute.

Or they saw their friends do it and want to fit in. Who knows.

Yeah, I don't see what the problem is. It's an alluring pose, and if there's one place I expect to see alluring poses, it's on movie posters.

Eh - there's alluring and then there's boring, stock posing that looks like hell on the lower back and knees. I dunno - it looks goofy and awkward to me.
posted by zennish at 9:58 PM on April 18, 2012


Keep using these pix. They are like lighthouse sirens to my movie-viewing journeys.
posted by telstar at 9:59 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Movie poster cliches. The through-the-legs one is #6.
posted by hopeless romantique at 10:00 PM on April 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


this doesn't even look like something a human could actually do.
posted by delmoi at 10:00 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was expecting this: Stop taking this picture!
posted by knave at 10:00 PM on April 18, 2012 [43 favorites]


I should probably recuse myself from commenting on eponysterical grounds, but...

My soon-to-be wife is a hardcore cosplayer, and this pose is such a staple of hers (mainly due to trying to imitate movie posters) that it's very amusing that someone saw fit to turn it into a rant. (not that this is the first such rant on this general subject)

Her last three costumes were Silk Spectre, Quorra from Tron Legacy and Siren Gem from same. Needless to say we've been seeing a lot of that pose around here.

Needless to say, I have no problem with it.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:00 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sucking in your cheeks a bit without puckering your lips and angling ypur head will make your face look thinner, but you have to know how to do it without crossing over into Waynes world fish face.
posted by The Whelk at 10:00 PM on April 18, 2012


Were they not dressed, this pose would make perfect sense. Nudes posed like this allow the body to be seen, but not the crotch. It's a classic way of showing nakedness but no cunt—Victorians didn't like that. Maybe we've picked it up from there.
posted by Jehan at 10:02 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why does anyone create or want to view such filth?

What? Money, obviously. Sexual objectification sells. The target audience for most of the 'entertainment products' in question are boys and young men. There's no ambiguity about what's going on with this stuff.

It's depressing and lazily sexist: this isn't rocket science, here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:02 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Most of those costumes are either so tight or so non-existent that I am having trouble picturing any pose that wouldn't be considered overtly sexual.

Also, I have seen plenty of films that made me think "I probably wouldn't have enjoyed that if I was a woman due to the way it treats the female characters". Sucker Punch made me think "I didn't enjoy that as a human due to the way it treats the female characters". That poster is the least offensive thing about it.
posted by AndrewStephens at 10:03 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Movie poster cliches. The through-the-legs one is #6.

Most of those were female legs, though.
posted by delmoi at 10:03 PM on April 18, 2012


shakespeherian's link is basically my point -- it is actually MOSTLY women's legs/butts we see in these posters, and it is totally a physical objectification thing.

Yeah if it wasn't obvious from the contents of the link, that was my point in posting it.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:05 PM on April 18, 2012


"SHE WOULDN'T CHOOSE TO JUMP ACROSS THOSE ROOFTOPS IN HEELS, THAT'S ASININE, WHY ISN'T SHE JUST WEARING BOOTS OR SOMETHING"

Silk Spectre, for her part, at least switches into flat-heeled boots (offscreen, and unmentioned) for her action sequences in "The Watchmen" movie.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:05 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why on Earth are the supposedly badass heroines always wearing high heels?

I don't know, when Pepper Potts/Gwenth Paltrow was doing all that running at the end of Iron Man, i was amazed and delighted that she was doing it all in impractical heels. I don't ever wear heels, but damn that was pretty hot.


That fit with her character. There's no real excuse for Catwoman to be leaping around rooftops and riding the Batcycle in heels - and as someone who's had to (accidentally) ride a motorcycle with a modest heel, it is hard as hell to change gears and get off the damn bike without falling onto your face.

and seriously she has long hair while on the Batcycle? Really? With no helmet? She's going to be spitting hair out of her mouth for weeks.
posted by zennish at 10:05 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can run in heels, mainly because I only purchase stilettos I can run in, and because it's a fun trick. However my day job is in a library and the number of villains I have to run down, giant guns to shoot, or, sadly, lassos to wrangle comes to a tally of zero (0). The reason this pose is annoying is because a) it is ubiquitous, b) seriously sideboob is not the best shot of virtually anyone, and c) why are they lounging around looking backwards like walking yoga flashcards, WHAT IF THERE IS A VILLAIN RIGHT IN FRONT. It's boring because they're posed like action figures and not the kind you play with for hours, the kind you buy on plastic stands from BigBadToyStore.com and keep from getting dusty.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:06 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Lol. Yeah, he's really shown an afinity for female characters in his films.

Totally this. I enjoy Nolan's movies alright, but he is one of those filmmakers who is only tangentially interested in his female characters. It was my chief complaint with Inception, that the perspective was so masculine that even his dream worlds were oddly left-brained and literal and mechanistic. Compared to the ones built by, say, Tarsem. I can't think of a single female Nolan character who is more than just a doodle in the margins.

That's not a crime! Every filmmaker, male or female, has their own priorities where gender is concerned. Jonathan Demme, for example, seems to put a lot of effort into bringing the inner worlds of his female characters to life. Ron Howard almost never does. Etc.
posted by hermitosis at 10:07 PM on April 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


She's wearing cat ears. Cat. Ears.

Heels are so beside the point.
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


She's going to a frat party on Halloween.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:08 PM on April 18, 2012


Those are goggles flipped up onto her head.
posted by hermitosis at 10:08 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why do people do this? Very close people to me do it all the time and they tell me they can't help it - but no one has ever given me a good reason WHY they make that stupid face.

Well, here's how it was explained to me: it's safer. Making the duckface is a way of signalling "Gosh, is it photo time? Now there's something I don't take seriously! Check it out, I'm going to pose goofily, as a way of showing that I don't have too high an opinion of myself or take myself too seriously!" You're less likely to be attacked for being stuck-up, superficial, etc., and much less likely to be bullied and mocked for trying to look good in a photo and failing (or, worse, succeeding).

I don't claim that this explains every duckface on Facebook. But I can believe that it explains quite a few.
posted by No-sword at 10:08 PM on April 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Count yourself lucky she doesn't have a tail.
posted by zennish at 10:09 PM on April 18, 2012


ShutterBun, the really important question: when your intended was dressed as Silk Spectre, did she carry the cigarette pipe thing from the comic, or did she bowdlerize the way the movie did?
posted by gingerest at 10:11 PM on April 18, 2012


I'm going to hold into that silver of hope Hermitosis, hold it tightly.
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 PM on April 18, 2012


Hey, Everyone — Stop Painting This Picture! (No, I Mean It, Eakins.) You too, Van Gogh, stop that. That goes double for you, Degas. Piss off, Pissarro. Dammit, Delacroix. Go to hell, Gaugin. Don't do it, Durer. Make something else, Matisse. Come on, Courbet.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:14 PM on April 18, 2012 [121 favorites]


You're not gonna like my answer, gingerest, but suffice to say that the conversation ended up somewhere between "it used to be a comic book?" and "I'm just going by what I see in the movie."
posted by ShutterBun at 10:15 PM on April 18, 2012


Those are not all the same pose at all. And most of those are studies, not finished pieces.

Anyway how about not doing it cause it's lazy hawkish marketing rather than interesting and engaging marketing?
posted by The Whelk at 10:16 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hermitosis is correct about the goggles-into-cat-ears.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:16 PM on April 18, 2012


This soothes me.
posted by The Whelk at 10:17 PM on April 18, 2012


Response from marketers: "we'll stop using that pose for movie posters as soon as our focus groups stop choosing it as their favorite. We don't make art, we sell it."
posted by ShutterBun at 10:18 PM on April 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


Wait but half of those paintings very specifically aren't the boobs n' butt combo and at least two of them have actual movement; that Delacroix is really stunning and engaging. Most of those look like actual women with normal spines, sans clothes. Also if the closest artistic parallel to the most common photo of lady superheros are nude studies from the 19th century...I don't know if that's a persuasive argument to me.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:18 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Rob Liefeld shows us how sexy posing is done, folks (spines are optional)
posted by nicebookrack at 10:21 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Those are not all the same pose at all. And most of those are studies, not finished pieces.

You gotta admit though, it's pretty impressive/strange/coincidental/telling that charliedon'tsurf managed to corral so many pretty good examples within a couple of minutes though, no?
posted by ShutterBun at 10:21 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please keep Shia LaBeouf as far away as possible from Rob Liefield's work. We don't want him getting any ideas.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:23 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Midriff.
No 't'.
FFS.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:24 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whither vag?
posted by bardic at 10:25 PM on April 18, 2012


You gotta admit though, it's pretty impressive/strange/coincidental/telling that charliedon'tsurf managed to corral so many pretty good examples within a couple of minutes though, no?

No. This is one of the most common figure poses in painting and sculpture. There is a reason this pose is used in so many situations. There are subtleties that the writer misses, like she whines about how Catwoman's heel is raised and she is off balance. That is an artist's convention, a deliberately unstable pose indicating that the figure is in motion, or about to move.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:27 PM on April 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


Well that's kind of the problem, it's bog standard posing, twist, push and turn, it just gets very tiring to see the same pose repeated.
posted by The Whelk at 10:29 PM on April 18, 2012


I can't see this article accomplishing much, but it does have a good point at the end. More boy butts! That is what we want! or at least what I want.

Imagine a society where trashy movies don't have trashy, pandering posters.

I'm betting that is a society where human beings are no longer the human beings I know, or a society so repressed it is not worth living in.
posted by poe at 10:34 PM on April 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


charlie don't surf: after 5 years of lurking, you've forced me to join just to favourite that.
posted by figurant at 10:36 PM on April 18, 2012 [22 favorites]


I don't see anything to be outraged over with those poses. It not only highlights the boobs and butt, it also hints at the ready-for-action nature of the characters.

My problem isn't so much with the pose, but rather that they are totally in line with the silly, predictable, generally juvenile minded comic book-ish movies they represent. The pose is a flag indicating yet another routine, unexceptional action/scifi/fantasy flick that I could probably safely overlook without fear of missing out on some significant art of value.
posted by 2N2222 at 10:40 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


No. This is one of the most common figure poses in painting and sculpture.

I guess that would fall under the "telling" portion of my post then. In other words, the fact that you were able to come up with so many examples so quickly tells us something about that pose; something beyond the mere conventions of modern movie posters.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:41 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Somewhere in the past half century, we moved from a boob culture to a butt culture. The sliver of boob still visible in these posters is literally being eclipsed by the back(side), sometimes as with the heel there is even the illusion of motion.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:41 PM on April 18, 2012


Everybody has a butt, it's more democratic.
posted by The Whelk at 10:43 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


My problem isn't so much with the pose, but rather that they are totally in line with the silly, predictable, generally juvenile minded comic book-ish movies they represent. The pose is a flag indicating yet another routine, unexceptional action/scifi/fantasy flick that I could probably safely overlook without fear of missing out on some significant art of value.

So, you're worried that you might miss out on seeing this generation's Blade Runner or Solaris due to a cliche'd female buttocks appearing on the poster?
posted by ShutterBun at 10:44 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed all those butt pics. Thanks!
posted by planet at 10:46 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Whelk, if you ever sit through a few years of art history classes and see a few hundred of the same pose, you start to see the subtleties. I mean, I saw the Catwoman and immediately thought of classical sculpture. going back as far as ancient Greece. Poses with a twist of the torso, a turn of the head, and a lift of the heel were commonly used to indicate motion. For example, Michelangelo's David, is a perfect example. Do you think the pose in the photos is a coincidence?
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:46 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


She's wearing cat ears. Cat. Ears.

Well, that's because she's Catwoman. Batman's costume has fake bat ears. I have examined some nearby cats and cannot help observing that they have prominent and distinctive ears.

This is the third time you've made this point. So, how do you think Catwoman should be costumed, if not in some manner reminiscent of a cat?
posted by anigbrowl at 10:51 PM on April 18, 2012 [18 favorites]


Well I do have a few years of art history classes and life drawings classes behind me and yes I did see the classical influence in all the poses but I've also seen that same pose roughly a thousand times cause its what happens when you apply the basic rules of constructing a dynamic pose to someone. Yes, it indicates motion, cause it's figure two on the How To Indicate Motion Posing Chart. It can be lazy and still work, there is a reason the word perfunctory exists. I'm not surprised marketing firms at risk adverse with regards to posters and publicity material, it's just gets a little tedious and repetitive is all.
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


just gets a little tedious and repetitive is all.

One person's "tedious and repetitive" is another's "more of the same, please!"

Actually, I can totally (ahem) get behind the notion that this is lazy and formulaic movie poster design. But as the Movie Poster Cliche' database (or whatever it's called) shows us, there are a LOT of different tropes, and this is just one of them. One of the more bootylicious ones, in fact. I'll take this over "Giant heads floating above the beach" any day.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:59 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


The painted-on-clothes-look-at-my-shapely-ass pose is pretty lazy and it's distressing that in many cases it's the only thing on the poster (sex sells, no surprise, I guess). But I'm going to have to side with the folks who can't stand the heels thing. It's the worst part of the TV show Castle, that the Beckett character wears huge heels in her job as a police detective.
posted by maxwelton at 11:00 PM on April 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, that's because she's Catwoman. Batman's costume has fake bat ears.

Yeah, i agree here. I'm sick of people complaining superhero movies aren't realistic, of course they aren't, they have superheroes. Batman is just as crazy as Superman, and being a "normal person" isn't there. Catwoman should resemble Catwoman, not just a woman in a jumpsuit.

Those movie cliche posters are fine by the way. Mix them up, take the names off, and try and guess what the movie is about. Using cliches helps, it lets you know what the basic genre is. Especially if you just walked into the theater or are looking at dvd covers.

Duckface needs to die a horrid death though, that's something i hope we all can agree on. ;)
posted by usagizero at 11:04 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, those are not the same pose. Some are from behind some are from the side. The author of the article has ruled out all full body shots that aren't facing directly forward, and I'm pretty sure the author of the article have complaints about those shots, too. Maybe the author would be happier if these women were wearing burqas.
posted by BurnChao at 11:05 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, Whelk, there is a fine line between an iconic classical pose, and a cliche. I worked in a graphics studio that made a ton of movie posters and I assure you there are artists working on posters and promo graphics well below their level of ability, and they know exactly what they are referencing. I prefer to think of it as some poor doomed fine artist trying to apply a little of what they know, to keep their soul from being completely destroyed by advertising gigs. I've been there, so maybe it's just my preconception. And the preconceptions of this woman who is incensed at seeing women's butts in artworks is evident, and she should probably avoid going to art museums, or for that matter, Rome, Paris, or any other city that might have public sculptures with exposed buttocks, right out where people could see them for the last few hundred years.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:10 PM on April 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yup, I agree with the irate blogger. It is time for a change of exploitative poses!
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:18 PM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe humorless people who are offended by great art and stuff would be less offended by these types of movie posters if the female characters they portray weren't so universally shallow and blank and awful and offensive. And/or if movie posters of dude characters also did this stuff instead of having the dude character face the camera or run around or otherwise have some agency.

I dunno. Either would probably be fine. Maybe we could combine both and have the next Ben Affleck movie be about how he is the vacuous beefcake reward for the undaunted female hero, but Ben Affleck would give a lot of embarrassing interviews about how his character is so strong and smart. And the posters would be of him shirtless, kissing his biceps! (Except most of his head is lopped off out of frame, because WHO CARES.) And everyone who thinks the Catwoman poster is totally cool would also go see this hypothetical Ben Affleck movie, because this is the sort of thing that's fine, just completely fine, it's about the story, not about the gender at all.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:21 PM on April 18, 2012 [60 favorites]


charlie don't surf: for reasons of corporate internet usage policy, I am obliged to immediately ask you not to link that kind of material. Oh, and I have to tell my manager, too. So just watch yourself. yes, yes, I suppose I should have noticed all the "nude"s in the URLs
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:22 PM on April 18, 2012


It is time for a change of exploitative poses!

Ah, a breast man, I see.
posted by ShutterBun at 11:37 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Contrapossto
posted by bardic at 11:39 PM on April 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it's so common, then give us a bunch of contemporary examples.

I can't give you a bunch of contemporary westerns, but that's hardly an argument that it's not a thing.

But speaking of the pose in question.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:41 PM on April 18, 2012


eschergirls.tumblr.com

that is all.
posted by egypturnash at 11:46 PM on April 18, 2012


Ah, thank you bardic, I could not remember that term, although you could tell what I was getting at.

Sorry Ubu, it did not occur to me that anyone would consider fine art images to be NSFW, especially considering how murky and stylized most of them are.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:01 AM on April 19, 2012


eschergirls.tumblr.com

Those seem to be mostly drawings, whereas we're talking about pictures.

Some of the poses may seem uncomfortable, or even "difficult to achieve" but they're all at least "possible."

Watch a fashion photo shoot sometime. The most photogenic poses are often the most uncomfortable. It's practically a cliche' in the industry to suggest that if a model is too comfortable, something's wrong.

Same thing goes for Military on parade duty. "Chest out, spine straight, shoulders back" is hardly the most comfortable position to stand in. But it makes for nice pictures.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:06 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of paintings of Judith slaying Holofornes... and how all these men paint these rather weak and insipid portraits of Judith where she is very detatched or almost limp ... vs. Artemesia Gentileschi's brutal and active portrayal.

Given the story, it is hard to imagine how Judith could ever be portrayed as so bland.
posted by chapps at 12:11 AM on April 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


Is the answer to have women do it less or men do it more?
posted by stavrogin at 12:22 AM on April 19, 2012


i think i'd be ok with more of this.
posted by stavrogin at 12:24 AM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Did you have a point, chapps? Because we don't really know who produced those posters. In the studios I worked at, it was usually more women than men. You know, even famous women artists have made their reputation producing commercial sexist crap too. [NSFW, ubu] I will also point out that the women IN the pictures are making millions of bucks off their "objectification," that's what actresses do.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:36 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I suppose sometimes an ass is just an ass.
posted by stavrogin at 12:45 AM on April 19, 2012


Nope! No sexism here! Women have been objectified since the dawn of time because fine art, and anyway, they participate in their own objectification! Also they make lots of money that way, what did they expect, and would you look at that ass, so there's no reason to question it any further. There's nothing to discuss, change or learn and grow from here.

More great news! It's not just for superhero movie posters anymore. Now the "Hi! Here's my ass!" pose is de rigueur on the red carpet too.

Yay!
posted by Space Kitty at 12:56 AM on April 19, 2012 [44 favorites]


"it is totally a physical objectification thing."

Whew! Good thing I am totally fine with that.
posted by Ardiril at 1:01 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Charlie don't surf, your post reminded me of this dissonance between the types of portrayals of women in action.

In most of these posters, the women are carrying weapons and action oriented characters, but the women in the posters are emotionless and dull. The poses are akin to the poses you shared from art history, while the super fighter girl stories are more akin to a story like Judith and Holofernes.

(not sure people know the story -- Judith's homeland is invaded, she sneaks into enemy camp with her maid and a basket of food, seduces the leader of the invading army after offering him the meal, gets him drunk, slays him by slicing off his head, and sneaks his head out of camp with the maid helping to carry the head in a basket. Then they display the head back home and show she has vanquished the invaders and saved her people...).

To me the posters choose a boring non-moment in the story of these female characters. Which is what Botticelli and Caravaggio do in their paintings of Judith.
posted by chapps at 1:02 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I mean the earlier post with all the images that have the same pose as the posters.
posted by chapps at 1:03 AM on April 19, 2012


To me the posters choose a boring non-moment in the story of these female characters.

Well, the paintings of Judith with the severed head might be a bit of a "SPOILER ALERT" if they were included in the movie posters.

Nope! No sexism here! Women have been objectified since the dawn of time because fine art

Please don't make us drag out thousands of examples of "naked men as objects" in fine art for the sake of balance. Because eww.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:16 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey. Blogger. STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:19 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow, haven't seen this kind of boyzone WELL GOOD I LIKE LOOKING AT ASSES stuff here in a while.
Because eww.
Are you serious.

Damn.

Did I trip over a time machine and it's 2004 again?
posted by kavasa at 1:20 AM on April 19, 2012 [25 favorites]


Well, the paintings of Judith with the severed head might be a bit of a "SPOILER ALERT" if they were included in the movie posters.
haha, true enough.
posted by chapps at 1:24 AM on April 19, 2012


Total movie trope. Never realized there were so many examples.
posted by SolRockSF at 1:42 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


hermitoses pointed out that they are goggles flipped up onto her head. He's totally right. It's actually pretty clever. I subsequently lol'd at people in a fuss because she's wearing cat ears. You guys do realize you're complaining, on an internet forum, about how a comic book character is portrayed in a movie? Nerds.
posted by victory_laser at 1:49 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


You guys do realize you're complaining, on an internet forum, about how a comic book character is portrayed in a movie? Nerds.

Hah hah, you showed them, Biff!
posted by Justinian at 2:05 AM on April 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


chapps, I can't believe you can look at Gentileschi's paintings, either version 1 or version 2 and see the expressionless faces, the indistinct, blobby bodies (but draped in oh so detailed frippery), the poor composition, and then you look at the Caravaggio, with the intense drama on every face,the clear definition of every muscle, bone and sinew in Holofernes' body, the dramatic positioning of the figures both near and far for contrast in the composition to add to the drama.. and then you call the Caravaggio work weak and insipid.

f you think Caravaggio's painting is insipid instead of Gentileschi's, then I don't know what I could possibly say to you about art. Apparently your opinions are based on the sex of the artist rather than the actual talent exhibited in the works.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:05 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


STOP TAKING THIS PICTURE.

Please send links with more pictures I shouldn't be taking or looking at.

Many, many more links.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:15 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Did I trip over a time machine and it's 2004 again?

Was 2004 the moment of "peak ass" or something? As someone who follows said trend with great interest, all I can recall about that period was a gently sloping peak, followed by a steep dropoff, but again followed by a more or less sinusoidal trend.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:29 AM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Now the "Hi! Here's my ass!" pose is de rigueur on the red carpet too.

There, the motiviation is a *little* different. Not that it's not about sex, mind you, but that's part two of the 1-2 punch pose. First is "Here's my breasts", or god help us, "here's my thigh!", and then you spin around and "here's my ass."

But part of the reason is you're showing off the dress. And, part of me is good with that, because I suspect most of these women think they look very beautiful* and want to show off all aspects of their gown. But part of the reason is, well, to be frank, to show off the body. Well, except for some gowns, where the reason for the gown is to not be arrested while showing off the body.

The point of the pose in the FPP is that it is a bizarre contortion meant to try to show T&A at the same time.

Why am I talking about this? I'm going back to EM theory and NASA. PEACE!


* And, in general, they are exactly correct -- then again, we all do look good when we spend some time scrubbing up and in our best dress.
posted by eriko at 2:47 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Was 2004 the moment of "peak ass" or something? As someone who follows said trend with great interest, all I can recall about that period was a gently sloping peak, followed by a steep dropoff, but again followed by a more or less sinusoidal trend.

That poster was just expressing disappointment that this thread didn't draw a high enough percentage of the "correct" responses, which would have been total agreement with the linked blog post and much tut tutting over these terrible images.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:15 AM on April 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


I hate myself for feeling the need to do this, but I can't resist the twofer.

Metafilter: Sigmund Freud could work himself into quite a lather over this, but I don't think it's particularly sexual.

Metafilter: This is a fantastic collection of words in a particular order.
posted by solotoro at 3:52 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


this raises an interesting question. do women wear high heels and do that pose underneath burqas and if they did, HOW WOULD WE KNOW!!?!
posted by canned polar bear at 4:06 AM on April 19, 2012


What's really depressing about this is not the sexism per se, but the fact that many of those who denounce the sexism in action movies are themselves action movie/comic book fans, who happened to take a women's studies class at some point and are now feeling offended due to their newly acquired sensibilities.

Part of the point of getting an education is becoming a more refined person and therefore stop watching action movies based on comic books. They completely missed that second part.
posted by falameufilho at 4:14 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


The levels of minimizing in this thread are quite remarkable. You know, in my old age, I have become so cynical that I can no longer tell who is being disingenuous and who is just truly not getting it.
posted by anansi at 4:15 AM on April 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


anansi, i totally get it. definitely too much ass and not enough tits in that pose.

btw, why are so many guys obsessed with anal sex? that could explain the pose.
posted by canned polar bear at 4:17 AM on April 19, 2012


See, I knew I should have recused myself earlier. Pictures of asses? It's my damn name!
posted by ShutterBun at 4:34 AM on April 19, 2012


ShutterBun, i thought your buns were just closed for business.
posted by canned polar bear at 4:43 AM on April 19, 2012


becoming a more refined person and therefore stop watching action movies based on comic books.

Any chance one could still watch comic book movies, and say, employ a more enlightened set of aesthetic/ thematic criteria?

If it's a given that "comic book movies" are capable of being "refined", isn't it acceptable that a refined viewer might enjoy an occasional "comic book movie"?

Granted, there have been a shitload of terrible examples in the past 10 years or so, but the same has probably been more or less true for other genres, such as musicals, westerns, films noir, etc.

Lord knows there were lots of posters in the film noir genre that appealed to the more prurient interests, which are now considered somewhat "quaint" but which, at the time were considered scandalous.

Any chance we're in a similar circumstance these days, albeit with a different agenda?
posted by ShutterBun at 4:49 AM on April 19, 2012


canned polar bear, more likely doggie than anal, and that's mostly because, well, we're apes. Which means it's misnamed, but hey. {shrug}

I just want to say, I first thought the mentions of Duckface were a reference to Four Weddings and a Funeral {poor Anna Chancellor... even when she's much better than that, I still think of her that way}.
posted by aurelian at 4:52 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


i thought your buns were just closed for business.

Rookie mistake.

(and apologies if I have somehow appropriated this thread as any kind of personal crusade, but it more or less revolves around my modus operandi, so I feel at least as qualified as the guy who stood in line behind Alvy and Annie in line for "Face to Face")
posted by ShutterBun at 4:54 AM on April 19, 2012


And the preconceptions of this woman who is incensed at seeing women's butts in artworks is evident, and she should probably avoid going to art museums, or for that matter, Rome, Paris, or any other city that might have public sculptures with exposed buttocks, right out where people could see them for the last few hundred years.

See, I just think this is missing the point of the original article, a little. The pose frustrates me, and I've spent months and months in Rome and in Paris, and I've seen archaic lady curves, Greek korai, scandalous Egyptian perfume-cone-lady paintings, every known variant of pornographic Greek pottery, Roman statuary, and so on. And I have had reasons to visit and revisit with the known variants of the Judith and Holofernes story. I am pro-butts! I love the Venus Callipyge, who is kind of the ur-variant of this trend. But even that pose is a little more humorous-- she's got a great butt and can't lie, which is why she's staring at it for all eternity [the restoration history is a little dicey, given that she was missing her head-- but even if she was looking straight back, she's Venus, that's what she does, she's love and lust embodied.] But you also can't see her boobs from directly behind, you have to move around a little, engage with the statue. It's a tease meant to have you, the viewer, admire her from different angles.

It's not about women who hate attractive ladies or lady curves. It's about attractive ladies, who are supposed to be superheros, be reduced to contorting themselves in an attempt to show movie watchers their only two good attributes. Not, apparently, lighting, or swords, or giant guns. But just their butts and boobs. Random other classical example: if this interpretation holds true, this is a lady, with a weapon, posed victoriously, with no bra. To me, that's far more exciting, far more engaging, that learning that this is yet again another movie with skin-tight leather pants and camera angles to emphasize them. Brave Judith goes against society's mores to saw off the evil warring general's head and cart it away in the middle of the night. The (older) ones where she has completed the task and is lounging back do make her more attractive, and more prettily posed. But even then the point isn't her frame, it's her sword, it's the dead head of Holofernes as a mute witness to what she can do. If Botticelli could rouse himself to make a pretty heroine with moxie enough to carry around a bleeding head, is it really offensive to ask that maybe some contemporary movie posters reflect that spirit?
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:06 AM on April 19, 2012 [22 favorites]


Where the fuck did all these boyzoners come from in this thread?
posted by shakespeherian at 5:09 AM on April 19, 2012 [16 favorites]


Where the fuck did all these boyzoners come from in this thread?

They heard we were talking about girl butts.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:19 AM on April 19, 2012


and boobs, don't forget the boobs. for god's sake, why is everybody minimizing boobs?!
posted by canned polar bear at 5:20 AM on April 19, 2012


she's got a great butt and can't lie

You other Mefites can't deny...
posted by ShutterBun at 5:24 AM on April 19, 2012


Not, apparently, lighting, or swords, or giant guns.

Lots of the examples feature weapons. (I think?)

"Hot chicks with guns" is an even more potentially offensive trope, really.
Are you familiar with the works of Andy Sidaris, by any chance?
posted by ShutterBun at 5:28 AM on April 19, 2012


Hey, Everyone — Stop Painting This Picture! (No, I Mean It, Eakins.) You too, Van Gogh, stop that. That goes double for you, Degas. Piss off, Pissarro. Dammit, Delacroix. Go to hell, Gaugin. Don't do it, Durer. Make something else, Matisse. Come on, Courbet.

Out of your examples there's maybe two that match what the post is talking about.
posted by kmz at 5:36 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love this pose, but it's not just about the butt/breasts. The "over the shoulder" look by itself is very attractive. See Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring.
posted by DarkForest at 5:38 AM on April 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I figured it was going to be recreations of the Abbey Road cover.

So all the butts and boobs came as a pleasant surprise.
posted by Trurl at 5:39 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


My god, all this hysteria about comic-book superhero action movie posters objectifying the stars... As if the male stars aren't sexually depicted, complete with phallic references. As if sex appeal isn't a major portion of the movie's draw. As if it would be a better world if no one ever dared put a movie star (or two) into a sexy pose on a movie poster. (And why are all those guns pointing up from their waists, anyway?)

Hollywood, please stop selling us things based on the best-working marketing techniques! We hate that! Put ugly people in thoughtful, realistic, unsexy poses on movie posters! Especially for action movies! THAT'S what we really want!


Maybe humorless people who are offended by great art and stuff would be less offended by these types of movie posters if the female characters they portray weren't so universally shallow and blank and awful and offensive.

thehmsbeagle, apparently you've glossed over all the male characters that are so universally shallow and blank and awful and offensive. Like: the entire male cast of Rambo, Inglorious Bastards (the two deepest characters were women), The Expendables, most of the X-Men, every man in Spiderman except the lead character, all Batman foes (and most allies, and some Batman's) prior to the recent reboot, ... AND WHAT'S WITH THE SEXUALIZING OF SUPERMAN, ANYWAY? WHY IS HIS JUNK ALWAYS SHOWN IN SUCH TIGHT BRIEFS???

Next up: outrage over the heaving bosoms on romance novel covers, but the ripped shirts of the hulky men are OK.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:40 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


canned polar bear: btw, why are so many guys obsessed with anal sex? that could explain the pose.

Because they have penises that give pleasurable responses when put inside passages.

Why are so many women obsessed with dildos? That could explain a lot of the male poses in movie posters, too.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:41 AM on April 19, 2012


Are you familiar with the works of Andy Sidaris, by any chance?

Honestly I was eleven when his last film came out, so no, not so much. I don't know, that looks like it does exactly what it says on the label [not tin god don't meta this!!] and they look like they're designed to be cheesy, terrible movies with improbable boobs and guns and hijinks. And yeah, there are weapons, but they're being held carelessly, they're serving as extensions of the hands but they're nowhere near being ready to aim or fire. Jennifer Garner is holding little dagger things, but she doesn't look...dangerous. They're side notes. She could probably suffocate a guy more easily. I probably could have phrased that better but I decided to type instead of getting tea, sorry!
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:44 AM on April 19, 2012


Now the "Hi! Here's my ass!" pose is de rigueur on the red carpet too.

"red carpet" and "over the shoulder" are both frequently used tags in my Tumblr blog, but I don't think they statistically clump together.

As eriko points out, the ladies have an obligation to show off all of the expensive dress they've been loaned for the evening.
posted by Trurl at 5:51 AM on April 19, 2012



Hollywood, please stop selling us things based on the best-working marketing techniques!

YEAH! There's totally no sexism here, but if there were, it would be TOTALLY FINE as long as some men are making money off of it! Rich men making themselves richer using the bodies of women--what could be wrong with that!
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:59 AM on April 19, 2012 [22 favorites]


Taken by itself, the pose doesn't bother me so much at all. it is a dynamic, vivifying pose implying an interrupted action -- which is why it is a classic art pose -- and thus really quite appropriate for what most of these movies are theoretically about.

Mostly my objection is the knowledge that when watching the movie, the female character thus portrayed going to be shallow, trite, and have very little of her own agency -- a dull, lifeless sex object existing primarily as eye candy, and as a plot element for the male lead character to use as an excuse for his actions.

Personally, I like tits, and ass, and the sort of loose freedom of movement that comes with a lithe, athletic body that would allow such a pose to be reasonable and natural in an freeze frame active moment. Looking at this sort of thing tickles parts of my brain that don't have words. But I also have a prefrontal cortex, which likes sex partners to be smart, savvy, and have their own agenda.

So by and large, looking at movie posters like this, it is like looking at a very tasty cupcake that I know is going to be made of sawdust. Give me better movies, please.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:00 AM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


This thread amazes me, and not in a good way.

Or what Space Kitty said.
posted by jonnyploy at 6:06 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The original article has a point, but the ease of just being publish your thoughts means it isn't well made.

Meanwhile, the aspect of the Catwoman photo that bugs me the most ab is how sloppily it's cut out. Another five minutes with the pen tool on the hair and it would look better.

Does anyone have the original photo the silhouette was cut out of? A Google search is turning up zilch.

Otherwise, the original article isn't well thought out. The second complaint is about a poster of the Black Window from the upcoming Avengers movie, so the writer links to a different photo that is supposedly looks tougher. All I can think is "Really? The photo of the actress pouting at the camera while in completely passive pose is better?" The rest of the complaints are on similarly weak ground.

Yes, there's sexism in movie posters and one could make a point about the various poses women make in them, even in the 21st century. But not with these weak examples and writing.

Finally, I like the Catwoman photo as Anne Hathaway is easy on the eyes and a good actress, so hopefully she'll bring some depth to the role. The high heels aren't an issue, 'cause hey it's a comic book movie! I might feel different, but after hearing my wife and her girlfriends squeal with glee and wonder as Pepper Potts ran over iron grating in the Iron Man movie changed my opinion about heels on heroines. If you're gonna save the world, you might as well look good while doing so.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:06 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


and how could you possibly look good without heels
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:08 AM on April 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


YEAH! There's totally no sexism here, but if there were, it would be TOTALLY FINE as long as some men are making money off of it! Rich men making themselves richer using the bodies of women--what could be wrong with that!

It's probably safe to assume that the women depicted in these posters haven't benefitted financially from the posters (or the movies they advertise) at all, right? It's just a cabal of sleazy men who seek to objectify and profit off of women somewhere?

What else can you teach us?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:08 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good lord, it's like feminism thread derails 101 in here.
posted by kmz at 6:11 AM on April 19, 2012 [31 favorites]


Haywire did a great job of having an absolute badass woman as its lead without resorting to cheap sexualisation. The posters also just treated her as an action hero.

More of that please.
posted by slimepuppy at 6:16 AM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's just a cabal of sleazy men who seek to objectify and profit off of women somewhere?

Yes?
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:17 AM on April 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


Good lord, it's like feminism thread derails 101 in here.

I thought this was a photography/marketing thread.

Should have read the tags I suppose.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 6:17 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


and how could you possibly look good without heels

THANK YOU, at least someone admits it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:17 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Short of genetically engineering actresses who can swivel their heads around like owls, that pose is pretty much the only way to get ass and face in one shot. Which doesn't excuse it, or rather doesn't excuse its overuse. I was struck by the contrast with the Twilight poster; I wonder what other movies marketed mostly towards women are using for poses.
posted by Forktine at 6:21 AM on April 19, 2012


It's probably safe to assume that the women depicted in these posters haven't benefitted financially from the posters (or the movies they advertise) at all, right? It's just a cabal of sleazy men who seek to objectify and profit off of women somewhere?
That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient.Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:22 AM on April 19, 2012 [31 favorites]


Well, this eventually ended up exactly where it was doomed to go.
posted by smackfu at 6:24 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm just going to step in to second slimepuppy's comment about Haywire. The movie itself is kind of strange and slow, but it's totally worth it for the amazing fight sequences and the moments when Gina Carano looks past the camera with those cold gunmetal eyes.

Yes, more of that please.
posted by fight or flight at 6:25 AM on April 19, 2012


That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient.Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.

holy crap, when does the revolution start? sign me up! do we get guns? i bet we get badass guns and swords too!
posted by canned polar bear at 6:26 AM on April 19, 2012


The original article has a point, but the ease of just being publish your thoughts means it isn't well made.

I'm sorry, what with the who now?

Someone upthread pointed out that the real problem with this pose in an action heroine is that a bad guy could just walk right up and punch the heroine right upside the head while she's all "Oh, I am distracted by this thing behind me and also look at my ass and boobs". Plus ow and unstable.
posted by gingerest at 6:27 AM on April 19, 2012


but the Aeon Flux one doesn't really seem to belong to me.

For what it's worth, that poster image is seriously less exploitive than the way the character was depicted in the original cartoon. (Gownless Evening Strap for a uniform, T&A shots galore, and then there was the scene where she licked her own submachinegun barrel because she was watching two other characters make out...)
posted by radwolf76 at 6:28 AM on April 19, 2012


Let's see ... we've got "male action heroes are sexualized too", we've got "this is a traditional pose in classical art", we've got "sex sells", we've got, "the women in the posters are also benefitting", we've got "I like butts why do you want to take them from me", we've got "you are foolish for expecting anything better" ...

Guys, step up. I'm not going to get a complete row on this Missed-Point Bingo card until we add "the pose is appropriate for those particular characters" and "here are some exceptions, which therefore demonstrate that the complaint is invalid."
posted by kyrademon at 6:28 AM on April 19, 2012 [49 favorites]


Keep taking this picture!
posted by The Deej at 6:29 AM on April 19, 2012


I'm sorry, what with the who now?

It's Catwoman, she's been vamping it up she was created. The pose might seem weird for most other female super types, but it's second nature for Catwoman.

Someone upthread pointed out that the real problem with this pose in an action heroine is that a bad guy could just walk right up and punch the heroine right upside the head while she's all "Oh, I am distracted by this thing behind me and also look at my ass and boobs".

Action movies are inherently unrealistic.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:31 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Y'all should read davidmcgee's link.
The 2006 Celluloid Ceiling Report[1] studied films of 2006 with combined domestic box office grosses of approximately $8.9 billion. It found women comprised 7% of directors, 10% of writers, 16% of executive producers, 20% of producers, 21% of editors, and 2% of cinematographers in the films studied.
Then there's this excellent illustration of missing the point:
the Caravaggio, with the intense drama on every face,the clear definition of every muscle, bone and sinew in Holofernes' body...

*snort*

Holofernes is the dude being killed, not the one using personal agency to do the killing. Caravaggio paints Judith posing like, "if I draw a knife across his throat as if it were a quill pen, will it work?" Gentileschi paints Judith as a woman actually fucking killing a dude. That expression on her face may not be familiar to you because it's not one depicted often for women which is EXACTLY what people are complaining about. Her expression: contempt, determination and power.

On a related note, check out The Last Psychiatrist's recent posts on "The Hunger Games". Great analyses of how women are deux ex machina'd in contemporary popular depictions. Super-facile summary (please read his posts, it's worth it): Modern fairy tales for men depict men with agency. Modern fairy tales "for" (about) women depict women with no agency.
posted by fraula at 6:31 AM on April 19, 2012 [17 favorites]


Reggie Knoble: I thought this was a photography/marketing thread.

Should have read the tags I suppose.


Reading the post would have gotten you past that assumption too.


IAmBroom: Hollywood, please stop selling us things based on the best-working marketing techniques!

The premise of this argument is only true if marketing isn't voodoo and you can produce good verifiable evidence that a movie sells more tickets when it uses ass posters than that same movie would without posters, all other variables being the same. Then, even if you could somehow validate the premise of the argument, it boils down to "Everybody should always do the thing that gives them the greatest personal short-term gain, and nobody's allowed to get mad about the results of that", and hopefully the problems with that don't have to be explained. Basically, I would like everyone in the thread to stop pretending that marketing is ever a good excuse for anything.


Finally, I want to thank you all because I have won four different games of Sexism Apologist Bingo using the responses in this thread.
posted by IAmUnaware at 6:32 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is a very entertaining thread, and will probably be vastly more interesting than the actual movie in question, so thanks, everyone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:32 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


One down, one to go!
posted by kyrademon at 6:32 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher, the post you're responding to was about how the ease of just being publish your post means it wasn't well made.
posted by IAmUnaware at 6:34 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


One down, one to go!

What else do you need? I can whip up something.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 AM on April 19, 2012


Damn it, kyrademon. Now it looks like I'm a plagiarist when really I'm just a very slow typist.
posted by IAmUnaware at 6:36 AM on April 19, 2012


Basically, I would like everyone in the thread to stop pretending that marketing is ever a good excuse for anything.

Hey, go ahead and want that. It's not your money at stake, right?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:36 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


this raises an interesting question. do women wear high heels and do that pose underneath burqas and if they did, HOW WOULD WE KNOW!!?!

This discussion was actually a cut scene from Sex in the City 2.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:37 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey, go ahead and want that. It's not your money at stake, right?

Please do produce the numbers that prove that this sort of marketing is effective regardless of whose money is at stake.
posted by IAmUnaware at 6:39 AM on April 19, 2012


This strikes me as just a lot of meaningless posturing.

*groan*

You're supposed to pad one-liners like that with a real contribution to the thread! Like this paragraph, excusing the sound-effect-meets-complaint above it!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:40 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, go ahead and want that. It's not your money at stake, right?

So... money as ends justify any means?
posted by kmz at 6:40 AM on April 19, 2012


Brandon Blatcher, at this point I'll win with either "this exception to the rule proves it is not a rule", "you don't have a right to complain because these movies are not aimed at your demographic", or "you hate fun".

And no worries, IAmUnaware. I just want the bingo cards you got, I could've won by now.
posted by kyrademon at 6:42 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


depends on the means and the ends and the ends of the means and the means of the means and the means of the ends. lets not forget as well the mean time between failure.
posted by canned polar bear at 6:42 AM on April 19, 2012


Well hey who cares about the oppression of half of the world's population, there are multimillionaire producers and investors to worry about! Let's remember the true victims of the patriarchy!
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:42 AM on April 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Hey, go ahead and want that. It's not your money at stake, right?

So basically we should be angry about the human beings are being (mis)treated -- the way our culture depicts women, for instance -- as long as there's MONEY at stake?
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:43 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have won four different games of Sexism Apologist Bingo

Out of curiosity, was there any potential downside for your particular point of view in this whole issue, or was it simply a matter of "wait until certain predictable defenses were made, then check off the appropriate boxes"?
posted by ShutterBun at 6:44 AM on April 19, 2012


canned polar bear, do you even go here?
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:45 AM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is this a wish fulfillment thing? Because it’s not fulfilling any particular wish I have.

That, I think sums it up. The author (a woman) heard that women like urban fantasy, and she had to google to find it herself. Note that the article involves talking to no women other than herself. One of the maddening habits of writers is assuming that they---educated, urban, unusual people---can speak for their demographic. Perhaps next she can write a sneering review of Fifty Shades of Grey, with plenty of "who reads this stuff" thrown in.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:45 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


or "you hate fun".

Really, what's the big deal, it's a comic book movie for Cthulhu's sake. Movies aren't real so complaining about them being unreal is silly. Just have some fun and stop trying to marsh everyone else's mellow.

That work?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:45 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well hey who cares about the oppression of half of the world's population, there are multimillionaire producers and investors to worry about! Let's remember the true victims of the patriarchy!
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:42 PM on April 19 [+] [!]



You know the ladies in these pictures are extremely wealthy movie stars right?

We aren't exactly discussing people trafficing over here.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 6:45 AM on April 19, 2012


You know the ladies in these pictures are extremely wealthy movie stars right?

We've done this already. Like just up the thread a little bit.
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:47 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


BINGO!
posted by kyrademon at 6:47 AM on April 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


If you need anything for the bonus round, let me know!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:48 AM on April 19, 2012


You know what really pisses me off? The when some artist deploys "Escher girl" pose in the middle of an action panel. That is just some lazy shit, andan example of the desire to do crappy cheesecake overriding storytelling.
posted by Artw at 6:51 AM on April 19, 2012


Note that the article involves talking to no women other than herself. One of the maddening habits of writers is assuming that they---educated, urban, unusual people---can speak for their demographic.

So are those of us who are women who agree with her just doing it wrong? Because I think her blog post could have been slightly tighter or neater, but basically I agreed with her. The most common pose inspired by women in movies in my Facebook albums is still freaking Charlie's Angels, because they have guns, it's cute, it's sexy, and also possible to handle with a normal spine.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:52 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


MAYBE THIS WILL HELP EXPLAIN IT FOR YOU GUYS
posted by shakespeherian at 6:58 AM on April 19, 2012 [22 favorites]



Everybody has a butt, it's more democratic.


Some butts are more democratic than others.
posted by doctor_negative at 6:59 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


canned polar bear, do you even go here?

no, i usually go there, but shhh, that'll be our little secret.
posted by canned polar bear at 7:00 AM on April 19, 2012


Out of curiosity, was there any potential downside for your particular point of view in this whole issue, or was it simply a matter of "wait until certain predictable defenses were made, then check off the appropriate boxes"?

Yes, Bingo is just about waiting until people say a thing and then marking off that thing on your card. It's not a very difficult or satisfying game, frankly, but it's very easy to play in certain environments.

As for my particular point of view in this whole issue:
1) Ladybutts are neat and I like them.
2) Sexism and overwhelming focus on the idealized female body are not good for society.
3) Movie posters that consist of nothing but ladybutt don't make people want to see movies. They don't express any concepts about the movie. Nobody is going to see a ladybutt poster of Anne Hathaway or whoever and respond "Well, I know where this $9 is going!" If the viewer is really so interested in ladybutt that a picture of it on a poster drives him to want to see more of it, he will simply go home and mine the vast, rich ladybutt veins on the internet, which he can do for free.
4) I am really tired of hearing people make the same fallacious defenses of sexist structures all the time, and I express this tiredness with snark which is nonideal so I apologize for being a jerk.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:00 AM on April 19, 2012 [11 favorites]


The most common pose inspired by women in movies in my Facebook albums is still freaking Charlie's Angels

At some point, I think it becomes a question of "how much responsibility do you want to ascribe to "men" vs. "how responsible are they themselves for their own desires."

I've taken my share of "Charlie's Angels" poses at clubs, and they were always my subjects' suggestions, I merely gave pointers on how to pose properly (vis a vis the "standard silhouette")

Feel-free to badmouth the "backside pose" or whatever on sexist grounds, but please realize that a whole lot of people feel like it's a great pose to show of their costume/character/whatever, tits & ass be as they may.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:01 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


We've done this already. Like just up the thread a little bit.

Ah yes, the "women are behaving incorrectly and it is ok for me to make this judgement because I apply the feminist label to myself" gambit.

DOMINO!!!!
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:03 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


At some point, I think it becomes a question of "how much responsibility do you want to ascribe to "men" vs. "how responsible are they themselves for their own desires."

Patriarchy is a system in which both men and women participate. That does not mean patriarchy is not a problem.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:04 AM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, if a whole lot of people like it, then it cannot possibly be problematic.
posted by jeather at 7:04 AM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


ShutterBun, but since now you know better you'll refuse to take pictures like that i hope. please also explain to the women who request to be photographed in such a pose how exploitative it is and that you're 'not that kind of guy' (anymore..).
posted by canned polar bear at 7:04 AM on April 19, 2012


I think you misunderstood me: I like the Charlie's Angel pose. I think it's fun, and I have been in probably dozens of pictures with it. I actually liked the movie. My point was that out of the hundreds of women I know, very few ever take pictures that resemble these movie posters. I have no doubt that there are loads of women who like the poses highlighted in the original article, who enjoy them, who can actually pose in them. Saying "these movie posters are cliched and unoriginal, and yes, I would like to see more actual action from my superheroines rather than their butt" does not mean "your loved ones who pose like this are bad people and/or are doing it wrong."
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:07 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ah yes, the "women are behaving incorrectly and it is ok for me to make this judgement because I apply the feminist label to myself" gambit.

I don't believe anyone here is saying the women are "behaving incorrectly." The argument I am making is that the system in which they (and I! and you!) are participating is inherently sexist. They are not the same thing.
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:09 AM on April 19, 2012


Errr... I don't have a problem with it at all, and I'll gladly take that picture if they want. That may or may not be OK with you. I guess patriarchy is an huge problem, but I'm not out to solve it with my camera. I know most of my subjects on a first name basis and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want me foisting morality or sexual politics on them while we're just trying to get a fun picture.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:10 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the real takeaway is that you can't overestimate the influence of Julie Newmar's Catwoman on the modern erotic psyche.
posted by Mcable at 7:11 AM on April 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


the system in which they (and I! and you!) are participating is inherently sexist

Butt-ist is probably more apropos, as there at least a few examples of male tushies among the throng.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:12 AM on April 19, 2012


if you think Caravaggio's painting is insipid
I don't. I think Judith looks insipid in his painting. And kind of bored. And certainly like she couldn't muster the strength to saw through a neck.

And I think the women in these posters look insipid and not super power awesome, which, to me, would be the fun of female superheros.
posted by chapps at 7:15 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Folks are welcome, as always, to take this to MetaTalk but making this thread a referendum on one person's unpopular opinions is really not conducive to community discussion. Consider this a polite mod request to get back on track.]
posted by jessamyn at 7:16 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Butt-ist is probably more apropos, as there at least a few examples of male tushies among the throng.

Apologies if it's been linked upthread, but this (sfw) shows pretty nicely why the presence of man-ass doesn't mean there's no sexism.
posted by ominous_paws at 7:16 AM on April 19, 2012


I don't believe anyone here is saying the women are "behaving incorrectly." The argument I am making is that the system in which they (and I! and you!) are participating is inherently sexist. They are not the same thing.

The linked passage had these quotes:

"That women are joining in the ongoing disassembling of my appearance is salient"

"It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it"

"We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women."

And that is without clicking the actual link. I fail to see how anyone can make these accusations of women and then deny they are making judgements and denying agency.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:18 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think I've narrowed the problem down too: it's a shame that movie posters cater to / reflect our actual money-spending desires, as opposed to our individual personal desires as a human society, and it's a shame that a lot of people's jobs depend on just such a dichotomy.

Further, it's a shame that it's more or less impossible for the average person to look upon a Hollywood Superstar as a regular human being, in order not to objectify them. But, lamentably, for the time being superstars are bound to carry the burden of being "more than human," in a lot of different ways.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:22 AM on April 19, 2012


And that is without clicking the actual link. I fail to see how anyone can make these accusations of women and then deny they are making judgements and denying agency.

OK. I do recommend clicking the link though. It's worth your (really anyone's) time.
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:23 AM on April 19, 2012


this (sfw) shows pretty nicely why the presence of man-ass doesn't mean there's no sexism.

If it sold tickets, it would MOST DEFINITELY be part of a marketing campaign though, wouldn;t you agree?

The appearance of Mel Gibson's ass in "Bird on a Wire" was probably the entire reason that movie got made, for chrissakes. And though the posters didn't feature it, don't con yourself into believing that it wasn't the centerpiece of the marketing campaigns (ahem) behind it.

I'm not saying that it makes everything OK, I'm just saying "hey! booty-love goes both ways, folks." It's not "sex-ist" so much as it's "sexy-ist." And what more should we expect from Hollywood at this point?
posted by ShutterBun at 7:29 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think I've narrowed the problem down too: it's a shame that movie posters cater to / reflect our actual money-spending desires, as opposed to our individual personal desires as a human society, and it's a shame that a lot of people's jobs depend on just such a dichotomy.

Further, it's a shame that it's more or less impossible for the average person to look upon a Hollywood Superstar as a regular human being, in order not to objectify them. But, lamentably, for the time being superstars are bound to carry the burden of being "more than human," in a lot of different ways.


I agree that the issue is reflective of larger trends in our society, but I'm not sure why you're being so inclusive with your language. The problem is overwhelmingly one of universalizing the male gaze: Women, even powerful women, are hypersexualized and turned into objects to be possessed; men are made into people we want to be. Yes, both men and women are distorted and made unrealistic, but it's ridiculous to assert that it's done in a fair or even-handed fashion. If men are shown what they should want to be by marketing, they are shown that they should want to be strong, dominant, and heroic; if women are shown what they should want to be by marketing, they are shown that they should want to be submissive, eye-candied, and exist for the benefit and sexual gratification of men.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:31 AM on April 19, 2012 [20 favorites]


[A couple more comments removed. Seriously, if you think the topic is not worth attention, read a different thread. Do not repeatedly attempt to derail this one. Thank you.]
posted by cortex at 7:48 AM on April 19, 2012


"hey! booty-love goes both ways, folks."

Yeah, in an incredibly slanted way. A male Hollywood star can go his entire career without showing off his bare ass. Whereas one of the only ways for a female to become a star in the first place is to show her ass, and show it often.
posted by hermitosis at 7:49 AM on April 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


jetlagaddict: I certainly wouldn't say you're wrong for not liking it. Just noting that lots of women do like the post, as evidenced by the fact that a great deal of material aimed at women uses it successfully, and the author's dislike of it does not equal "women hate this". Which doesn't mean it doesn't suck!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:03 AM on April 19, 2012


Because I realized I have work to do on my own failings, I'm trying not to talk too much in sexism threads. But irrespective of that, "Bingo cards" are a cheap and dismissive piece of snark.

One can as easily make a "Bingo card" for any other side of an argument. Look! It's what I'll call "Metafilter Sexism Scolding Bingo!" One space is for someone invoking "boyzone." One for being accused of "privilege." Another for a pointer to some "knapsack" article. It means nothing. Dragging out the Bingo cards just denigrates whoever you're speaking about, and makes them less likely to listen.
posted by tyllwin at 8:18 AM on April 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


IAmUnaware: " Movie posters that consist of nothing but ladybutt don't make people want to see movies"

The teen male market makes this determiniation all the time.
posted by Mitheral at 8:28 AM on April 19, 2012


Holofernes is the dude being killed, not the one using personal agency to do the killing. Caravaggio paints Judith posing like, "if I draw a knife across his throat as if it were a quill pen, will it work?" Gentileschi paints Judith as a woman actually fucking killing a dude. That expression on her face may not be familiar to you because it's not one depicted often for women which is EXACTLY what people are complaining about. Her expression: contempt, determination and power.

Oh FFS it's like nobody even looked at the paintings. So I'm going to photoshop the two Judiths together. Look at them. Which woman's face is expressing contempt, determination, and power? And which one looks like someone serving tea? Which one shows actual subtle expression of chiaroscuro and facial anatomy including how musculature around the eyes changes expression? Which painting's colors are vivid and bright, and which one is murky and brown?

Anyone who would seriously claim the painting on the right is superior to the Caravaggio on the left is basically disqualified from making any judgments about art.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:36 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hell, the male market makes that determination all the time.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:38 AM on April 19, 2012


Suggested alternate ubiquitous advertising pose
posted by furiousthought at 8:42 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


The whole outraged, depleted attitude of defenders of feminist rectitude is just so tired. Yes, these movie posters use a submissive, to-be-looked at pose to try to imprint on passersby some at-least-subconsciously-enduring impression of the film being adverted, which film (by the way) is really another excrescence of the overwhelmingly patriarchal industry shorthand referenced as "Hollywood".

Oh, wait, you're not tired? You're playing bingo instead? Oh my GOD, marketers are showing me and everyone else with right minds another pair of ass cheeks and (left|right) side boob. Arrrrgggh, ffs!!!111

On another side, yeah, sexism has existed in durable form since ancient Greece and by god even people with vaginas make fat cash off it and I like it so what's so wrong about THAT! Also, show me your big booty, THANK YOU.

I find the outrage somewhat amusing but I'd really like someone, anyone, to take the critique and analysis a bit further. Here's one short-and-perhaps-not-so-fresh example.

A while ago there was a long MeFi thread about catcalling (or a long thread where catcalling came up). Many of these movie posters seem to depict the the interrupted action of female super-heroes in a way that suggests they are looking over their shoulders at something that has drawn their attention. One can imagine the smoldering, come-hither-and-up-inside-me look is directed at some imaginary objectifier who's saying something like "Catwoman your bottom and sideboob are HAWT I will go see this movie" whose position just so happens to coincide with the viewer of the poster.

That is, people viewing the poster are in some ways put into the position of someone/something that interrupts the action of the subject and are greeted with a do-me-baby look; something that might appeal to 16-year-olds who have little experience being with actual women but plenty of experience at the mall/city/library populated with bored/titillated/disregarded/normal/abnormal females wearing tights-up-their-ass-as-pants because it makes them feel good/they want to be objectified/what business of yours is how they dress anyway.

So, your (my) outrage and complacency is just tired crap and so is this (my) post.

I just thought we should acknowledge how deeply full of crap we all are.
posted by mistersquid at 8:44 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shapely asses full of crap.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:48 AM on April 19, 2012


if women are shown what they should want to be by marketing, they are shown that they should want to be submissive, eye-candied, and exist for the benefit and sexual gratification of men

I'm sure this point has been made and ridiculed before, but is there any chance that female filmgoers are able to see past all that and simply enjoy the idea of a feminine heroine kicking some ass and looking good whilst doing so?

If showing one's backside (whether bootylicious or simply "here's my back") is considered supplicant, there are certainly a lot of guy heroes who would be at risk as well. (mind you, I'm saying "if")
posted by ShutterBun at 8:48 AM on April 19, 2012


people viewing the poster are in some ways put into the position of someone/something that interrupts the action of the subject and are greeted with a do-me-baby look

Would it be terribly gauche to simply say "yes, this is probably the entire point of most of these posters?" I mean, they (most of the examples) are breaking the fourth wall and looking directly at the viewer, so surely there's some kind of message there, right?

And let's be honest: these are not all "movie posters," but instead simply "elements of a larger advertising campaign."

With tens of millions of dollars on the line, you just know someone is going to come along and say "can we ass-tify our heroine by 20 percent?"

That doesn't make it any less sleazy, but can we at least agree that in this particular case, it's more a matter of "asses putting asses in the seats" as opposed to some kind of war against women?
posted by ShutterBun at 9:00 AM on April 19, 2012


> My problem isn't so much with the pose, but rather that they are totally in line with the
> silly, predictable, generally juvenile minded comic book-ish movies they represent.

YEAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!


> Did I trip over a time machine and it's 2004 again?

Could be that. It's also the present, and the future until the end of time.
posted by jfuller at 9:01 AM on April 19, 2012


> That doesn't make it any less sleazy, but can we at least agree that in this particular case, it's more a matter of "asses putting asses in the seats" as opposed to some kind of war against women?

I'm not much of a feminist, but I'd say that objectivication for profit, or "assess putting asses in the seats", is part and parcel of the whole war against women.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:08 AM on April 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


That doesn't make it any less sleazy, but can we at least agree that in this particular case, it's more a matter of "asses putting asses in the seats" as opposed to some kind of war against women?

What is your point? To deny sexism completely until we find some mustachioed evil dude in a bunker with a grand scheme written up in 10-point font called "WAR ON WOMEN, 4TH AND FINAL DRAFT"?
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:13 AM on April 19, 2012 [13 favorites]


Curious, then what are action movies posters supposed to look like?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:13 AM on April 19, 2012


it's more a matter of "asses putting asses in the seats" as opposed to some kind of war against women?

No one thinks that these decisions are made as part of a conscious effort to specifically humiliate, provoke, or denigrate women. The war on women is merely a byproduct of the larger problem.

When you design and launch a piece of advertising, especially for mainstream film/TV, it's intended to reach as many eyeballs as humanly possible. And when people are constantly confronted with images portraying women in a certain way, it's inevitable that their perception and appreciation of real women -- their interests, their bodies, the whole package -- will be informed by those portrayals.

All the better if women absorb those messages too, because then they've learned what to want/what to do/how to act from the very people who are primed to sell them those things.
posted by hermitosis at 9:14 AM on April 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you have any doubt that representations of women's bodies wind up skewing women and men's perceptions of female attitudes/attractiveness, take a look back at this Hungry Beast video (NSFW) on the connection between labiaplasty surgeries in Australia being influenced by the nudie mag industry and the nation's media censorship standards.
posted by hermitosis at 9:21 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can't we just decide now to teach every kid that marketing is a terrible thing created by evil evil people for crass commercial purposes and that no one should ever look to anything in it as any sort of role model?
posted by DarkForest at 9:25 AM on April 19, 2012


Did Toulouse-Lautrec's posters for the Moulin Rouge somehow ruin something?
posted by ShutterBun at 9:32 AM on April 19, 2012


"Oi! Frenchies! YOU WILL SEE SOME ASSES!"
posted by Artw at 9:33 AM on April 19, 2012


Curious, then what are action movies posters supposed to look like?

The only one I'd seen so far for The Dark Knight Rises looked like this, which is quite nice.
posted by dng at 9:34 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love how people keep harking back to similar depictions of women in the past as PROOF that this is totally benign, because everyone knows that sexism was invented in 1920 by feminists.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:35 AM on April 19, 2012 [20 favorites]


hermitosis, i find it offensive that you're suggesting that only women are portrayed unrealistically in the mainstream media. the exact same thing is being done to men.

anyways, being objectified is only a problem if the person (yes, men and women alike) is attractive and since most of the world population isn't very pretty it's not a huge problem.
posted by canned polar bear at 9:37 AM on April 19, 2012


being objectified is only a problem if the person (yes, men and women alike) is attractive and since most of the world population isn't very pretty it's not a huge problem.

I'm not very pretty. I get objectified a FUCK of a lot.

Because the problem isn't that the guy objectifying me thinks I'm attractive. All he thinks is "that person has tits and a cunt and that is all that matters."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:39 AM on April 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


I love how people are begging the question of sexism in the face of a lot of evidence which suggests it's simply "humanism"
posted by ShutterBun at 9:40 AM on April 19, 2012


Don't feed the trolls bears.
posted by hermitosis at 9:40 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


...Good point, hermitosis. Thank you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:42 AM on April 19, 2012


I love how people keep harking back to similar depictions of women in the past as PROOF that this is totally benign, because everyone knows that sexism was invented in 1920 by feminists.

I love how people keep building straw men. I've seen more sophisticated arguments from the self-proclaimed "gynocrats" in ShitRedditSays.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:44 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


All of the Farscape posters that I've seen Claudia Black is showcased as badass, black leather-clad, and awesome. Cleavage AND a big gun AND sometimes multiple female characters! They're not spectacular from the design side, but, well, it's Farscape. In the recent Hunger Games posters, Jennifer Lawrence is either a) not pictured or b) shooting an arrow, which is quite cool and exciting. The original 1977 Star Wars posters have one scandalous Leia, showing some serious leg, one Leia being groped by Luke [spoiler alert ewww], a couple of group shots and one Leia shooting a giant laser beam.

...mainly I want more Claudia Black in my action movies.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:44 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos, i'm sorry to hear that, sounds like the guy is an asshole with issues. it doesn't mean he's been brainwashed into thinking that way because of the media.

it's the same problem that bill maher occasionally complains about. just because he calls some women (e.g. palin et al.) stupid does make him a sexist. it's because they're really really stupid.
posted by canned polar bear at 9:49 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love how people keep building straw men. I've seen more sophisticated arguments from the self-proclaimed "gynocrats" in ShitRedditSays.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:51 AM on April 19, 2012


it's inevitable that their perception and appreciation of real women -- their interests, their bodies, the whole package -- will be informed by those portrayals.

Let's all try to stay focused here. We're talking about a specific pose, used with both male and female subjects.

It's the pose that's truly in question here, not the idea of sexualization or objectification of people in movie posters, which, let's face it, is pretty much a given at this point. If you want to object to that as an issue, fine.

This article and thread are more specifically about this particular pose, more specifically still: how this pose has become a lazy cliche' for motion picture marketers.

At the risk of backpedaling, I'd respectfully suggest that the issue of sexism in popular media has had a shitload of outlets on Metafilter at any given time, and that it's more constructive in this thread to concentrate on the particular posture in question, whether the subject is male or female.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:52 AM on April 19, 2012


Which painting's colors are vivid and bright, and which one is murky and brown?

Anyone who would seriously claim the painting on the right is superior to the Caravaggio on the left is basically disqualified from making any judgments about art.


charlie don't surf, anyone who would judge the skills of the painter on the basis of the accumulated grime over the gas-and-candle-lit years since its completion is basically disqualified from making any judgments about art.

The Caravaggio was either better kept, or (more likely) already restored.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:52 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


That doesn't make it any less sleazy, but can we at least agree that in this particular case, it's more a matter of "asses putting asses in the seats" as opposed to some kind of war against women?

Patriarchy does not mean there is a war against women. Patriarchy means that society is structured in a way which privileges the interest of men over the bodily integrity of women. This does not have to be intentional for it to be real: It is even possible that every piece of media or bit of culture which reinforces a patriarchal structure has a perfectly sound economic reason for being; nevertheless, this system is reinforced by these things. It is an unfair system. That's the issue.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:54 AM on April 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


Let's all try to stay focused here. We're talking about a specific pose, used with both male and female subjects.

No, we're talking about a specific pose, COMMONLY used with female subjects and OCCASIONALLY used with male subjects.
posted by hermitosis at 9:54 AM on April 19, 2012 [7 favorites]


"I love how people keep building straw men."

Feminism is built on the backs of straw men (with great butts).
posted by Ardiril at 9:55 AM on April 19, 2012


At the risk of backpedaling, I'd respectfully suggest that the issue of sexism in popular media has had a shitload of outlets on Metafilter at any given time, and that it's more constructive in this thread to concentrate on the particular posture in question, whether the subject is male or female.

The linked article specifically says that the pose is predominately used to depict women for the purpose of sexual titillation and objectification.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:57 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, this eventually ended up exactly where it was doomed to go.

With spirited discussion from people who hold differing points of view on the topic, smackfu?

Yep, just the kind of crap I've come to expect from Metafilter.

WHY WON'T EVERYONE JUST AGREE WITH ME?!?!?!

No need for nuance; it's white or black here, folks! Pick a side! If you don't agree completely with this article, you are a sexist of the worst kind.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:04 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


The cultural chasm here displayed is almost too far too jump.
posted by TwelveTwo at 10:06 AM on April 19, 2012


I'd say that the particular poster is more of a symptom of highly sexualized representations of men and women than it is a particular classification of women as second class citizens. I'm sure there are more "ugly" men on posters than "ugly" women, but the trend is to offer sex -- no matter who's giving (I've seen sexy *machines* on posters -- yeah, maybe I'm cracked :-)). Where the problem shows up is exactly what the article highlights -- the frequency.

My particular definition of feminism revolves around whether this is making a woman into a 2nd class citizen. Given that movie posters are *all* about objectification (there is no plot summary, there is no deeper understanding -- you're looking at an attractive model designed to lure you into the movie), I really don't think you can criticize the poster itself, but you can criticize, perhaps, the frequency of portrayal.

So, that said -- complaining is fine, but what do you expect people to do? It seems simple to me -- let more women design the posters and have final approval. It's fairly obvious that while there may be women artists working on them, the main decision makers are male. Otherwise, you'd probably see more male ass cheeks when you have a male lead. :-)

This is, perhaps, a optimistic assumption on my part...
posted by smidgen at 10:07 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


[canned polar bear, seriously, you need to give this thread a rest.]
posted by cortex at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


The linked article specifically says that the pose is predominately used to depict women for the purpose of sexual titillation and objectification.

Exactly. To argue that this pose has any other purpose in the context of movie marketing is to be rather obtuse. It's irrelevant that great artists throughout history have used similar imagery (and I would argue that the degree of similarity is open to interpretation) because they weren't trying to market a created character in a movie.

And no, not all action movie posters rely on this stereotype. In movies where it is essential to the overall plot that we take the lead female character seriously as a bona fide asskicker, there is no backwards glancing sultriness on display in the associated posters. Off the top of my head, The Hunger Games, Salt and The Long Kiss Goodnight come to mind. Do the posters take advantage of the female lead's attractive appearance? Certainly. Do they pose said lead in such a manner as to emphasize tits and ass? Absolutely not.
posted by Go Banana at 10:14 AM on April 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


I immediately thought of this, which I drive by every day on my commute to work. Max Payne 3 on the Hotel Figueroa. Ugh. (Although it is very fascinating watching the sign-painters in action.)
posted by jabberjaw at 10:19 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


IAmBroom: Hollywood, please stop selling us things based on the best-working marketing techniques!

The premise of this argument is only true if marketing isn't voodoo and you can produce good verifiable evidence that a movie sells more tickets when it uses ass posters than that same movie would without posters, all other variables being the same.


IAmUnaware, if I believed for a second that this data wasn't out there, I'd become a fucking billionaire marketing analyst overnight. Such analysis is perfectly trivial to generate. Movie posters are tested before sample audiences, and regularly change during the first run (with regional variances picked out).

Here's one data point: National Lampoon (the nationally-distributed magazine) began using covers that referred explicitly to jokes within the mag itself, or were (nonsexualized) jokes that stood on their own merits. After a short while, the editors discovered that covers containing a woman sold better; sales were even higher if the women was dressed/posed sexually. They learned, and now the hot-chick-on-the-cover is now almost ubiquitous on NL.

This entire discussion would be more productive if arguments like "I'd totally watch it if Anne Hathaway weren't sexualized on the poster!" weren't posited as meaningful. The marketing isn't aimed at you and your measly $10. Nor me. Nor your 14yo boy. It's aimed at demographics. Change what those demographics want, and marketing will follow.

Alternately, find a way to discourage the moguls who fund these marketing campaigns (boycott, vote with dollars, "morality fines", whatever), and it will change.

In the meantime, keep whining that the world isn't exactly the way you want it to be, and the opposite sex behaves in ways you don't like.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:19 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


In the meantime, keep whining that the world isn't exactly the way you want it to be, and the opposite sex behaves in ways you don't like.

Please don't do this in any conversation ever.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:22 AM on April 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


The marketing isn't aimed at you and your measly $10. Nor me. Nor your 14yo boy. It's aimed at demographics. Change what those demographics want, and marketing will follow. Alternately, find a way to discourage the moguls who fund these marketing campaigns (boycott, vote with dollars, "morality fines", whatever), and it will change.

Gee, we're trying, but when we do try to talk to the demographic that goes for this we get told that we're "whining that the world isn't exactly the way you want it to be", and when we take it up with those advertising moguls we get told that we're "whining that the opposite sex behaves in ways we don't like."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:24 AM on April 19, 2012 [17 favorites]


charlie don't surf, anyone who would judge the skills of the painter on the basis of the accumulated grime over the gas-and-candle-lit years since its completion is basically disqualified from making any judgments about art.

You look but you do not see. For example, look at the hair on the two figures. Gentileschi's is an amorphous blob, Caravaggio's is distinct and well defined. If you knew anything about art conservation, you'd notice that the colors in other areas of the painting, for example the blue dress, are still vivid and crisp, so it's obvious that Gentileschi's painting is not so poorly conserved that you can claim it's murky because it hasn't been cleaned. That is how she painted it. Look at how she paints the arms. They're blobby cylinders. Caravaggio shows musculature. Look at she painted a crude, high contrast shadow across the face, but his shadows are more subtle, with ambient light filling in the dark areas. You are not even seeing what is in the paintings.

This adulation of Gentileschi is something I never ever hear from painters, only from feminists. So if you want to promote her as deserving of attention because she was an overlooked woman artist, fine, but you should at least acknowledge your political intent. But don't even try to tell me Gentileschi was a better painter than Caravaggio. That is utterly ridiculous, it's like saying Marie Cassat was a better painter than Manet.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:38 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


That is utterly ridiculous, it's like saying Marie Cassat was a better painter than Manet.

Define 'better.'
posted by shakespeherian at 10:52 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now now lets all just agree to hate Monet and leave it at that.
posted by The Whelk at 10:56 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Gee, we're trying, but when we do try to talk to the demographic that goes for this we get told that we're "whining that the world isn't exactly the way you want it to be",

More like a single piece of marketing material is being used to make a larger point that may or may not be related to the material.

The Dark Knight Rises isn't out yet, so we know how the Catwoman characters is played. Is the sexy angle just a party of the character or the complete package?

The Black Widow appeared in Iron Man 2 and the plot mocks the focus on the sexuality/beauty of the character. Having that her appear in the dreaded pose doesn't mean much, as the character is played on a different level.

Oddly enough she strikes me (as played in Iron Man 2) as more believable example of Batman. She's a highly trained Special Agent, with access to plenty of data and equipment and willing to use to stack the odds in her favor. Bats as billionaire playboy who happens to get access to equipment and data always seemed to be stretch.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:59 AM on April 19, 2012


Huh. I have always seen Caravaggio's Judith as being halfway through sawing off the head and having a moment of grossed-out hesitation, realizing the reality of what she's doing, and letting off on the pressure for a bit in the hope that it's all over after that first big slash. Sawing off a dude's head with a big knife isn't an all-in-one-slash operation, after all, and she's at the halfway point, right about where you'd expect someone who is not a bloodthirsty murderer to need to take a breath and have it sink in just a little bit that they're in the middle of sawing off a dude's head here. But maybe I just give Caravaggio too much credit. That painting never really spoke to me until I saw it in person and it instantly became my favorite painting ever.
posted by The World Famous at 11:01 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


How do you define "better?" I would start with more skilled. Compare what are arguably the most famous, "best" works by these artists:

Cassat.

Manet.

Just pick any aspect of the painting, like the perspective. Cassat uses an unusual downward angle to focus on the figures. Manet uses a flat frontal plane with the figure and the bar, against a deep space filled with activity. You know, a good artist can do two things at once. Or more.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:06 AM on April 19, 2012


Now now lets all just agree to hate Monet and leave it at that.

Yeah, and Manet too.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:08 AM on April 19, 2012


Frankly the angles in that Manet have never made any sense to me.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:12 AM on April 19, 2012


That Manet (my favorite Manet, actually) has so much weirdness going on with the reflections (are there reflections?) and the perspective of the theater in the back (is it a mezzanine bar?) that it just tips over into being floating and strange in a good way.
posted by The Whelk at 11:12 AM on April 19, 2012


Comparing the Caravaggio to the Gentilische? Ow, what? Gentilische's Judith is angry, possibly even murderous, but that's all there is there; a snapshot, a pastiche (with bad technique and figuration but I can ignore that). The expression on Judith in the Caravaggio is all you need to see to know you're in the presence of a transcendant work of art. Somehow that bit of paint there manages to not just represent a moment, but a lifetime of fear, rage, remorse, anguish, pain, terror and maybe a dash of angst all blended together; I could look at her for hours and not see everything there is to see there.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:14 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know, a good artist can do two things at once. Or more.

It's clear that Cassatt wasn't interested a deep space filled with activity so comparing the two on that aspect is odd.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:14 AM on April 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


Cassatt and Manet had such different interests and techniques I think it's kinda weird to just flat-out state that it's ridiculous to find Cassatt superior to Manet.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:16 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


It might be better to compare this Manet to another artist when dealing with the same subject.
posted by The Whelk at 11:20 AM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I love how people keep building straw men. I've seen more sophisticated arguments from the self-proclaimed "gynocrats" in ShitRedditSays."

Come the fuck on — referencing art history as a way of saying thus ever so ignores the fact that the vast majority of art history has been wickedly sexist. If that wasn't your point, well, communicate better.

"This adulation of Gentileschi is something I never ever hear from painters, only from feminists. So if you want to promote her as deserving of attention because she was an overlooked woman artist, fine, but you should at least acknowledge your political intent. But don't even try to tell me Gentileschi was a better painter than Caravaggio."

Yeah, because painters can't be feminists. And you're falling into the trap of arguing that technical skill — where Caravaggio does beat Gentileschi — trumps all other considerations. That the hair is individually defined doesn't overcome the weakness in the pose. And c'mon, Caravaggio gave Judith an expression less determined and more fart-smelling. I know that you're all on some art history boner here, but get the fuck over it.
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 AM on April 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


> art history boner

Curiously, most classical male nudes are not depicted with erections.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:30 AM on April 19, 2012


And besides, Cassatt is best compared with Degas, where she pretty much holds her own in painting (to the best of my knowledge Cassatt never sculpted), though her repertoire is more narrow than Degas's.
posted by klangklangston at 11:30 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


And you're falling into the trap of arguing that technical skill — where Caravaggio does beat Gentileschi — trumps all other considerations.

Technical skill is pretty broadly defined in a medium that requires technical skill to represent even nontechnical issues.

In any case, your argument would carry a lot more weight if Gentilleschi hadn't seen the Caravaggio painting and deliberately set out to show she could do it too. She couldn't.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:31 AM on April 19, 2012


Count me among those who are SO GLAD that the conversation ended up here instead.
posted by hermitosis at 11:32 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, comparing the full sciences (Caravaggio, Gentileschi) the latter trumps the former. Yes, Caravaggio's technique is much better and gorgeous, but Gentileschi's is rawer and packed with murderous intent: those two women weren't leaving the room until he was dead or they were. Caravaggio's strangely muscled woman appears to be contemplating what to have for supper while her chaperone ponders the technique for the after murder critique.

if Gentilleschi hadn't seen the Caravaggio painting and deliberately set out to show she could do it too. She couldn't.

She focused on what mattered, not the goddamn drapes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:35 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]



Curiously, most classical male nudes are not depicted with erections.

Well the classical depiction of Priapus (art penii wiki link) aside...
posted by The Whelk at 11:36 AM on April 19, 2012


Well, yeah, I'd expect my fertility icons to have nice stiff ones.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:40 AM on April 19, 2012


As charming as a Baroque Art History derail is, is the entire point just to say that the one female painter sucked at Judith? For a certain personal reason I own as many postcards of Judith and Holofernes paintings as I've been able to find and find the play of emotions across all of them fascinating as both an indication of skill and a display of the interpretation of Judith's mindset. The earlier ones distance her as much as possible from the gory scene, and while once I loved Botticelli's version for treating Judith as something other than a scary harridan, I have come to love Caravaggio's intensity and focus much more. I hadn't seen the Gentileschi version until much more recently, and her face is indicative of an entirely different woman and action to me. (Honestly the Baroque is a little modern for my tastes, but I make an exception for Judith and for Caravaggio.)

Also I would be totally in favor of a Judith action movie! Admittedly maybe not with these as posters, because, spoiler, right there.


Oh goody do we get to have a male naughty nude thread? Because yeah, Priapus! The Egyptian god Min! That Pan fucking the goat statue! But not heroic nudes, which are completely different and vary drastically between various classical civilizations....
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:40 AM on April 19, 2012


In movies where it is essential to the overall plot that we take the lead female character seriously as a bona fide asskicker, there is no backwards glancing sultriness on display in the associated posters

I guess we can take the author's inclusion of Lara Croft off the list, then?
posted by ShutterBun at 11:41 AM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


> I love how people keep harking back to similar depictions of women in the past as PROOF that this is
> totally benign, because everyone knows that sexism was invented in 1920 by feminists.

To be just a hair more discursive than my previous comment: to me these reference to the historical visual record don't appear intended as proof of benignity (or malignity), just as proof that as far back as we can look people are monkeys with monkeys' interests, expressed with better technique. That the historical record is so deep and so unvarying does carry an implication--that being shocked, shocked that people are monkeyish and saying don't be that is not likely to have a whole lot of effect.


> The cultural chasm here displayed is almost too far too jump.

Hell is other people, amirite? Alors, continuons.
posted by jfuller at 11:43 AM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Curiously, most classical male nudes are not depicted with erections.

That may be because they sometimes got knocked off.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:49 AM on April 19, 2012


That may be because they sometimes got knocked off.

While genitalia are often separated from classical nudes, there's definitely a deliberate cultural choice in classical Greek sculpture towards depicting heroes, gods, athletes, etc. in a certain way within the nude framework. Some vases show athletes with a dog tie, that is, with a knot around their, ahem, attributes, possibly to reduce harm, but also perhaps for cultural reasons. While many comment on the, mmm, less-than-inspiring David and his older classical counterparts, it's not that the Greeks didn't understand erections or just had tiny genitalia. It was a deliberate way of representing figures within a dignified context. Some clay plaques for example represent slaves or workers in a kind of bausanic ugliness, differentiating their fully-exposed and laughably elongated nudity from the heroic nudes seen in other works.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:00 PM on April 19, 2012


To keep that within the context of movies, this seems to be totally the opposite from every single Superman. I always assumed human spandex just couldn't handle the Superjunk?
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:02 PM on April 19, 2012


> I always assumed human spandex just couldn't handle the Superjunk?

Don't I remember that Superman's super-suit was made by Ma Kent from the baby blankets he had with him in the rocket from Krypton? Because it seems to have superpowers of its own, such as that he can fly through the sun wearing it and it doesn't get burned off. Topic drift 'r' us.
posted by jfuller at 12:10 PM on April 19, 2012


The simple fact is that Kal-El just had a really small dick.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:13 PM on April 19, 2012


Oddly enough [Black Widow] strikes me (as played in Iron Man 2) as more believable example of Batman. She's a highly trained Special Agent, with access to plenty of data and equipment and willing to use to stack the odds in her favor. Bats as billionaire playboy who happens to get access to equipment and data always seemed to be stretch.

Black Widow: The public option of superheroes.
posted by brain_drain at 12:20 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone who's diapered a baby boy human knows that there is an excellent chance that he'll pee in your general direction once you take the old diaper off. I suspect a baby Kal-El could have taken your eye out, so the always-binocular Ma Kent must have learned to drop the blanket on him pretty damn quickly.
posted by maudlin at 12:21 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


She focused on what mattered, not the goddamn drapes.

Apparently Judith's dress is what really mattered.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:10 PM on April 19, 2012


jetlagaddict: I was actually thinking of the herma that often had erect phalluses on them, and that a favorite vandal's prank in ancient Greece was to go around and break them all off.

I just figured that after a while the sculptors figured out that "maybe we shouldn't make these bits so sticky-outy".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:14 PM on April 19, 2012


The art history 'derail' (?) is the only reason I've read the thread with such interest.

As charming as a Baroque Art History derail is, is the entire point just to say that the one female painter sucked at Judith?

Actually, it started with Chapps claiming that all male painters had portrayed Judith as a weak, insipid, or boring character, in contradistinction to Gentileschi, who captured a fuller, more human Judith with more agency.

On the evidence, Caravaggio's work is not only technically in a entirely different league but the depth and subtlety of emotion and purpose in his Judith (the slightly furrowed brow, the lines around the eyes) seem to portray the epitome of a strong, determined woman, but human nonetheless. I find it amazing that anyone would claim the Gentileschi manages to portray nearly as much depth, humanity and non-caricatured emotion in Judith, but apparently opinions differ.
posted by bumpkin at 1:17 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


and that a favorite vandal's prank in ancient Greece was to go around and break them all off.

Well, maybe, but the Greeks and Romans also had, or at least preferred small penises. In fact, in, as I recall, later statues a large penis differentiates a Roman from a Barbarian since the Romans made fun of Barbarians for having big dicks. Hasty cite since I'm no longer in touch with my Latin or Art History teachers.
posted by cmoj at 3:48 PM on April 19, 2012


cmoj, I was referring more to the flaccidity of statuary peni as opposed to their size.





THAT is a sentence I'd never thought I'd type.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:58 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I'm jumping around in this discussion of ancient dongs.

In that Straight Dope article, they do mention some kind of good luck statue which consisted of Hermes' head on a square pillar with a giant erect pensi sticking out the side, which I didn't know about. That seems like more a home furnishing, though.
posted by cmoj at 4:09 PM on April 19, 2012


Yeah, that square-pillar thing is what I was talking about; my uneducated assumption is that if you had so many cases of those getting their dicks knocked off, that may have had an impact on the design of the more classical statuary ("if it happens so much to THOSE things, then....")

I'm basing this on nothing but a hunch about human nature, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:13 PM on April 19, 2012


There are draws full of lopped off statue junk in every major museum, FWIW. In the 19th century in particular decency types went on a bit of a lopping spree.

I'm sure it's all nearly labeled.
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on April 19, 2012


Herms were often public, but the pattern for heroic nudes (with the tiny dicks) was established long before the infamous vandalism accident. Sorry, I had assumed you were talking about the detachment of genitalia in other Greek statues before though! Forgot about herms.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:17 PM on April 19, 2012


"My problem isn't so much with the pose, but rather that they are totally in line with the silly, predictable, generally juvenile minded comic book-ish movies ideas they represent. The pose is with a flag indicating yet another routine, unexceptional ... that I could probably safely overlook without fear of missing out on some significant art of value.

This post and just a few words changed in the above comment, makes me think so much of this. (But rather shockingly, she's shown without a gun!)
posted by blueberry at 4:31 PM on April 19, 2012


the funny thing is that I was intending to respond what I thought was the best in thread post by charlie don't surf. Which I still think is a hilarious post, and makes a good point about how the pose isn't inherently sexist and artists can have many intentions with such poses. And that post is what got me thinking about women portrayed in art in the first place...

Actually, it started with Chapps claiming that all male painters had portrayed Judith as a weak, insipid, or boring character

Admittedly not phrased well by me by saying "all these men" , so ... mea feminist culpa, dudes. I didn't mean that men never could portray it differently, or that Gentileschi is a better artist, although I wouldn't say she is crappy or uninteresting. I do think these particular men portray Judith differently, and I find it interesting.

Reading a post about women annoyed by portrayal of women in these movie posters brings to mind how some women artists have approached questions of how to define women, pose female bodies, which subjects to choose, and present the female form to the audience.

Perhaps feminist art questions not of interest to others. Fair enough. People see things differently than me in the Caravaggio. Fair enough. Caravaggio is a great artist. There is no doubt. Perhaps someone you know went a little crazy when she was young and took women's studies. Yeaaaaa that might have been me.

As brandon blatcher asks, Curious, then what are action movies posters supposed to look like?.

Exactly. But cautious of how I have already been a bit prescriptive, maybe I would ask instead, "what could they look like?". Which is kind of what feminist artists have asked, I think, when they re-examine how women are portrayed.

(But then there would be some Thatcher of the art world to show how women are actually worse at portraying women and I would be sunk).
posted by chapps at 4:45 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


No. This is one of the most common figure poses in painting and sculpture. There is a reason this pose is used in so many situations. There are subtleties that the writer misses, like she whines about how Catwoman's heel is raised and she is off balance. That is an artist's convention, a deliberately unstable pose indicating that the figure is in motion, or about to move.

If you read around on the Escher Girls blog referenced upthread, there's a discussion that addresses how differently many artists show "action" on women vs. men. After all, if it was just a standard action pose, it would be used for men too...but it hardly ever is. And, at least on comic book covers, women who are posed with dramatic hip thrusting aren't actually doing much except thrusting their hip. They are seldom, for example, punching someone out, demolishing a building, or what have you; they are just looking Menacing but Sexy. Often, long dramatic hair whips around them, or wind, or lightning bolts, but their bodies are actually quite static, just posed, not poised. There is a difference.
posted by emjaybee at 4:58 PM on April 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Perhaps feminist art questions not of interest to others. Fair enough. People see things differently than me in the Caravaggio. Fair enough. Caravaggio is a great artist. There is no doubt. Perhaps someone you know went a little crazy when she was young and took women's studies. Yeaaaaa that might have been me.

LOL I knew a lot of young women art students who went a bit crazy. I was in art school when the Judy Chicago Dinner Party project was in the works. Yes, there is a Gentileschi place setting. I think that's when her rehabilitation into a feminist icon started.

As brandon blatcher asks, Curious, then what are action movies posters supposed to look like?.

Exactly. But cautious of how I have already been a bit prescriptive, maybe I would ask instead, "what could they look like?". Which is kind of what feminist artists have asked, I think, when they re-examine how women are portrayed.


Now that, I can maybe help with, and maybe even rejack this thread back on track. Yves Peters writes a monthly column for The Font Shop's blog reviewing new movie posters, including many speculative posters and alternate designs that did not make the cut. Ostensibly these are reviews of typefaces used in movie posters, but the overall designs are examined too. The series is called "ScreenFonts," here is an example. He also did a presentation on movie poster design at SXSW.

That site links to another movie poster site, The IMP Awards. Here is a great example of a sexy but not sexist movie poster that ScreenFonts used as an example that "all hope is not lost" in movie poster design. You might like the 2011 IMP Awards section. They also have a large collection of posters including current designs, which also include shots like this. They're not all award winners.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:17 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know much about painting, but I know a lady smelling a fart when I see one, and Caravaggio's Judith is beautifully depicted as fart-smelling. "This is grody. Ew," she is clearly thinking. Her handmaiden appears to be thinking, "I am holding a towel."

The Gentileschi Judith and her handmaiden look remote, absent - I have no idea what they're thinking. I am not impressed by the realism of either of these portrayals of whatever a woman thinks when she is decapitating an enemy she's plied with wine and grimly fucked into a stupor, but I actually suspect shocky remoteness comes closer to the mark than reluctant distaste.

One way or another I am super-irritated by the false dichotomy of "This adulation of Gentileschi is something I never ever hear from painters, only from feminists" and the repeated sneers at Gentileschi's apparently unusual technical ability with "frippery" and fabric details. Is it such a big deal? Is it that different to be interested in fabric than in big piles of fruit and flowers, or the reflections in glass?
posted by gingerest at 5:55 PM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'd like to chime in with the weirdness about making 'feminists' out to be some sort of outre special-interest group or cult of fanatics or something. Feminism means that you believe in and hope for social and political parity for all persons regardless of sex or gender. If you aren't a feminist, I'm a little worried about you.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:54 PM on April 19, 2012 [14 favorites]


> Feminism means that you believe in and hope for social and political parity for all persons regardless of sex or gender.

I've more and more just considered much of what is labeled "feminisim" should simply be included in one's tool kit for correcting logical fallacies and other perceptual artifacts. It would be nice to be able to turn the temperature down enough to approach things from that basic analytical level but that seems difficult for many.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:20 PM on April 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am not impressed by the realism of either of these portrayals of whatever a woman thinks when she is decapitating an enemy she's plied with wine and grimly fucked into a stupor, but I actually suspect shocky remoteness comes closer to the mark than reluctant distaste.

[facepalm]

Judith 13:16 - "As the Lord lives, I swear that Holofernes never touched me, although my beauty deceived him and brought him to his ruin. I was not defiled or disgraced; the Lord took care of me through it all."

This story is mostly an allegory about how staying obedient to orthodox law would protect the chosen people. Judith was able to stay halal (with the aid of her slave, Jdt 12:19) while using her beauty to trick Holophernes into getting drunk. Then with god guiding her hand, she chopped off his head, her slave stuck it in a bag, and they took it back to their people. This was proof Holophernes was dead and it was time to counterattack his army that was trying to wipe them out.

One way or another I am super-irritated by the false dichotomy of "This adulation of Gentileschi is something I never ever hear from painters, only from feminists" and the repeated sneers at Gentileschi's apparently unusual technical ability with "frippery" and fabric details. Is it such a big deal? Is it that different to be interested in fabric than in big piles of fruit and flowers, or the reflections in glass?

And I am super-irritated by people who "don't know much about art" (or for that matter, the story of Judith) misinterpreting these paintings, and what I said about them. Is it not apparent that I have studied these paintings extensively in a Baroque art history course? It was on the test and everything.

Yes, the Book of Judith mentions how she was dressed in her finest clothes. But if you're going to paint a parable about how a woman used her beauty, you have to make sure *she* is beautiful, not just her clothing. Obviously Gentileschi was incapable of that. There is no dichotomy here. I never said Gentileschi was unusually talented at painting Judith's clothing, I don't think she was unusually talented in *any* aspect of painting. I merely indicated that Gentileschi took more care with the clothing than she did with any other part of the painting.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:22 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


He who learns to pass the test, has failed the lesson.
Beauty is in the world in many forms. Breasts or 'pretty' faces are not the sole bearers of beauties banner. Grim determination is beautiful.
posted by infinite intimation at 7:58 PM on April 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with you, ii, but the face in question doesn't express grim determination, or really much of anything. It's placid and mostly a blank look. This is not the woman described here:

Judith 13:6-8 She went to the bedpost near the head of Holofernes, and taking his sword from it, she drew close to the bed, grasped the hair of his head, and said, “Strengthen me this day, Lord, God of Israel!” Then with all her might she struck his neck twice and cut off his head.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:10 PM on April 19, 2012


Breasts or 'pretty' faces are not the sole bearers of beauties banner.

Well, duh. That's why they always make sure to stand so they're showing the ass, too.
posted by The World Famous at 8:13 PM on April 19, 2012


She may be smelling a fart, but she's grimly determined about this distasteful act. The other Judith -- I see nothing in that face.
posted by bumpkin at 8:15 PM on April 19, 2012


It strikes me that there's no way to tell the difference between someone bragging about her ignorance and someone owning up to the dimensions of her ignorance. I intended the latter. I have lots of respect for people who know about painting and paintings and the mechanics and history of art. But just as I think T.S. Eliot was totally wrong about what's required to appreciate poetry (oh, man, what a tendentious dickhead that guy could be), I think there are some aspects of art that people can appreciate without any special training or experience at all. We can have different opinions about what a facial expression says, but our expertise in reading expressions comes from our lifelong exercise in looking at faces, not from art class.

The false dichotomy I named is "painters and feminists". Maybe that's not what you meant, but it's what you said.

The point of the tale of Judith depends on who you ask, charlie don't surf - Chaucer and Dante treated the tale of Holofernes as a parable about hubris, not faith. Little Judith was able to chop the mighty general's damn head off because it didn't even cross his mind he could be killed by a woman, "for all his pomp and all his might".

As to the centrality of Judith's beauty - Michelangelo only showed the back of Judith's head on the Sistine Chapel, which definitely doesn't work with your assertion that her physical beauty needs to be central to telling her story. (Although maybe we could work out some idea about how the Renaissance perspective on Judith was about her tale from a masculine perspective centred on Holofernes' hubris, but the Baroque interpretation was about a female-centric perspective wherein she was an active agent, using her beauty as a tool to achieve God's will.)(A liberal arts education is a gift that keeps on giving. Giving other people shooting pains in their eyeballs, sometimes, but giving nonetheless.)

Now that I'm poking around, I really like the Cranach and the Galizia Judiths. She looks really smug in both, which strikes me as much the right note. Religious ecstasy might have been a nice way to go, too, and it's not like there was a shortage of that in Baroque art, but then again, probably it wasn't quite done to show ladies transported by murder, however righteous.

I still think the stupid twisty-spine over-the-shoulder poster pose is dumb.

I am going to point this out to forestall anyone giving in to base impulse and trying to score the cheapest point: you slipped when you were writing, and meant Judith kept kosher, not halal. It's probably beneath anyone here anyway.
posted by gingerest at 9:07 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I should clarify (because I haven't already used up all the words in the world) that I didn't mean there's actually no way to tell the difference etc. I meant that I was a hack and wrote "I don't know much about painting" in a way that made it impossible to tell the difference.
posted by gingerest at 9:08 PM on April 19, 2012


but is there any chance that female filmgoers are able to see past all that and simply enjoy the idea of a feminine heroine kicking some ass and looking good whilst doing so?

I really cannot read this whole thread because I am not (no longer?) a masochist, but I have zero interest in watching a movie that advertises itself by showing a highly-sexualized heroine from behind, wearing heels, in a pose designed to appeal to hetero men. It's gonna be shitty and have nothing to do with me as a woman-- it's going to be mental acrobatics to even remember that she and I have anything in common. I'm gonna doze off during the action scenes because she'll most likely be a vapid stock character and looking at her body isn't going to do anything to keep me awake. I probably won't even be able to remember what's going on!

The Hunger Games I will see, because the heroine is beautiful but no one's zooming in on her ass or breasts and she's also a badass and has interesting psychological dilemmas and in the end it's good entertainment. That is a movie about a beautiful, kickass woman that I will see! Even fucking Twilight is more gripping to me than most of the above insipid action flicks because at least there's a basic consideration for the thoughts, wishes, conflicts and feelings of (young) women. This kind of consideration is routine for most movies marketed toward men. Depth is not required, just basic consideration for what makes a good escapist fantasy for a particular demographic. Women are not the most coveted demographic.

And to be honest an action movie that involved Channing Tatum running around in a revealing suit, showing plenty of skin and posing in ways that made him look sexually available would rev my engine, and I would see it purely for the delight of looking at his fine body. But this is not a thing that ever happens, ever. Yes, male superheroes are sometimes in skin-tight outfits, but they are usually meant to demonstrate his strength (to encourage male fantasy identification) rather than sexual availability or pliancy. Sometimes women want to escape into a fantasy that doesn't center around displaying the curves of their body to feel "powerful"; a sense of antagonism toward one's body for the sexual "power" it develops in puberty (which is actually usually a new vulnerability to unwanted gazing and various forms of violation) is an extremely common emotion in adolescent girls, and it's ridiculous to think that every grown woman enjoys showing off her body because it's intrinsically pleasurable and not because she is taught from a young age that her body is equivalent to sex. The desire to escape that double bind and see an action movie about a heroine who is attractive but not "posed" seems pretty reasonable, and when I do see a movie that is worthwhile in that way I'm usually surprised to remember how fun and freeing it feels.

So yes, congratulations all ye heterosexuals with penises, you like naked women. Your complete lack of empathy for women who live every day in a world full of images of objectified women while rarely being catered to and being told that men are the real human heroes is impressive. (Honestly, we get it, you want to see sexually available women everywhere you go. But if you straight-up can't understand that very often women feel alienated by the highly disproportionate depiction of women as sex objects and the absence of female characters with whom we can identify just as subjects ... you're being ignorant.)
posted by stoneandstar at 10:36 PM on April 19, 2012 [20 favorites]


Plus, on the fantasy register, "looking good" is subjective. Catwoman's outfit "looks good" in that it shows off her body for those who are attracted to women's bodies. It is also sleek and kind of cool, but she's mostly supposed to look sexy in it. If I wanted to show off my body to men, get male attention and feel like I was instigating a "chase," I'd want to look like her. But if a female hero is really going to hold my attention with the way she looks, her costume better be actually cool and not just blandly sexy. Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element looks cooler but I don't really want to be her, I don't identify with her, it seems obvious to me that she's supposed to be something cool to look at. (Other women might disagree.) Lara Croft is sexy and there's still some disconnect there, where I know her short shorts are not really "for" me, but at least she's wearing some awesome boots and looks strong, makes me feel strong when I identify with her. Same with Katniss Everdeen-- she looks strong! That's all we want, just like you want when you read a Batman comic. To feel strong and invincible and hardcore. And to forget about stilettos for a second. (Do you want to see all your heroes and leads wearing neckties and wool suits? One or two might be cool, just like, uh, Don Draper or Pepper Potts is cool, but imagine if you had to mentally put on heels and makeup and shave your armpits and legs in order to fit the bill of "action hero" in your own fantasies.)
posted by stoneandstar at 10:46 PM on April 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Actually uh please don't shoot me for bringing up Game of Thrones (I swear I've like never mentioned it here before and don't watch it), but someone pointed out the other day that they were watching an episode with some kind of nasty-ass-looking nomadic females in it, and they both had shaved pits and legs. I don't know the details, but I've seen this happen in a million other movies and TV shows too. I mean, c'mon guys, we live in a reality where women do all this time-consuming physical maintenance on their own bodies in order to fit basic standards of professional grooming and it's practically invisible. Not even nomads catch a break. This actually sucks! Without even suggesting that women not shave their legs, wouldn't it be OK if every once in awhile teen boys saw a woman with hairy legs, and it was normal enough that they didn't express visceral disgust? I feel the same way about these posters, like it's just par for the course that women will contort themselves to put themselves on display, rather than using their bodies powerfully, in a way that expresses strength. Looking at the women in those posters I can usually actually feel a kind of instinctive psychic discomfort knowing how unrealistic (and totally unempowering) it is. Same with comics. The adrenaline of punching someone's face in is curtailed by the "Look at my ass! My torso twists around 270 degrees, check out my boobs! I'm eating my hair! I'll snap my ankle when I land on this high-heeled boot!" of it. The pose versus poise thing.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:58 PM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


After all, most "sexy" poses for women are about vulnerability, not strength. Access, not power. There are exceptions, but they're not as popular. (It seems kind of obvious from a biological point of view why seeing a woman from behind while she turns her head to look at you would be sexy?) It isn't about being mad that men find women sexy, it's about being mad that you finding us sexy is more important than us having fun.

K, I'm done for real now.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:07 PM on April 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


" Even fucking Twilight is more gripping to me than most of the above insipid action flicks because at least there's a basic consideration for the thoughts, wishes, conflicts and feelings of (young) women."

Really? It didn't feel like anyone in that movie had a single thought the entire time they were on screen.
posted by klangklangston at 11:21 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Bella's relationship to her father and mother really rang true to me, and I also just reveled in the fact that I was looking at hot shirtless guys while the girl was the actual psychological focus of the story, even if I sternly disapprove of her love affair with that vampire. (Apparently I am Team Jacob, who knew.)
posted by stoneandstar at 11:26 PM on April 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Really? It didn't feel like anyone in that movie had a single thought the entire time they were on screen.

That's precisely why the audience can relate so well to the characters.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:29 PM on April 19, 2012


"And I am super-irritated by people who "don't know much about art" (or for that matter, the story of Judith) misinterpreting these paintings, and what I said about them. Is it not apparent that I have studied these paintings extensively in a Baroque art history course? It was on the test and everything. "

And I'm a bit irritated, as someone who does know a fair amount about art, with your sweeping pronouncements and grandstanding about baroque art. If you didn't mean to posit a dichotomy between feminists and painters, you need to work on your communication skills. If you did, it was obnoxious and wrong. Likewise, your bagging on Gentileschi is weird — her beauty is an issue for you, but you don't mind that Caravaggio's Judith is clearly not using all of her strength (she's not even really holding the sword right). And for all your carping about faces, Caravaggio's servant is the best one in either of the paintings.
posted by klangklangston at 11:30 PM on April 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh, and somewhere in the recesses of my very female mind, the decision between exotic dude from faraway and boy-next-door with whom I could maintain my family and social ties is a big deal, and meant more to me on a level of personal values and introspection than "which of these guys is cuter." Sure, it's still framing a story about a girl in terms of her relationships with men, but at least I was identifying with it, and not being told to look sexier. But then she chooses WRONG and the story goes to pot so why even bother! (So I'm vehemently Team Jacob, it turns out.)
posted by stoneandstar at 11:31 PM on April 19, 2012


That's precisely why the audience can relate so well to the characters.

This seems like kind of a sucky attitude, since a large percentage of the audience is made up of little girls...
posted by stoneandstar at 11:33 PM on April 19, 2012


Bella is so boring, though! She doesn't even have any hobbies, unless you count "complaining about what a pathetic clumsy loser you are" as a hobby. Catwoman has kitties to round out her job of burglary (and the endless hours she must spend repairing her costumes since she doesn't have Alfred), at least.
posted by gingerest at 12:23 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I appreciate your considered response, gingerest. And for the record, yeah, I'm a buddhist so sometimes the subtleties of things like halal vs kosher escape me. Whatever.

One of the points of these biblical tales expressed in painting is that these were visual parables for an illiterate audience, not necessarily high art allegories for an elite, educated audience. But it's also worth considering that the Baroque Judiths focused on the allegory of virtue victorious over evil, they were Counter-Reformation icons of the Catholic Church victory over evil heretics.

As for different interpretations of the myth, they can coexist and overlap, but if you're going to paint a visual image, Judith's beauty is going to be a central element, whether it is shown, or perhaps hidden Michelangelo's version. I'm not sure if Michelangelo's portrayal of any female figure is a particularly good example of anything, it was said he used only boys as models and when he needed to portray a woman, he just stuck some tits on a boy. I mean, seriously, look at the manly arms on these female sibyls. But each artist had their weaknesses. Gentileschi painted many other versions of Judith, and they seem to have something in common, Judith's dress is elaborately painted, but the faces are poorly rendered.

But if I had to pick my favorite Judith (aside from Caravaggio) I would pick someone with the most sublime draftsmanship and ability to portray beauty: Mantegna. And notice he's using the dreaded contrapossto pose that so gravely offended the writer who saw it in the movie posters.

Anyway, if you know the personal backstory of Gentileschi, she obviously had her own agenda for using Judith. It served her well during her lifetime when she was able to exploit her own analogous personal scandal to further her career. And in this sense, I think it's clearly not a false dichotomy to divide the response to Gentileschi between feminism and painting (or perhaps I might have stated it better, feminism vs. aesthetics). Other feminist artists exploited Gentileschi to further their political agendas. It strikes me as disingenuous to exploit Gentileschi in this manner. Feminist historians that assert she "suffered a scholarly neglect that is unthinkable for an artist of her caliber" are missing the point, she "suffered" exactly the proper level of scholarly attention for a minor painter. To suggest otherwise is a feminist political judgement, not an artistic one.

In any case, you can imagine that over the years, I have heard more than my fill of arguments surrounding Gentileschi. I'm sick of them. Museum storerooms are filled with unexhibited works by unknown, even anonymous Baroque artists of better quality, both men and women. To hold up Gentileschi as a paragon because of her gender seems to me to betray the artistic goals she pursued, and places her in a position that completely disregards her artistic skills (at whatever level those might be).
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:29 AM on April 20, 2012


contrapposto
posted by Wolof at 12:34 AM on April 20, 2012


Yes, yes, Wolof. If I actually cared about correct spelling of Italian art history terms, I'd have the required 4 years of Italian language studies and my PhD in Art History by now.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:41 AM on April 20, 2012


<>But if I had to pick my favorite Judith (aside from Caravaggio) I would pick someone with the most sublime draftsmanship and ability to portray beauty: Mantegna. And notice he's using the dreaded contrapossto pose that so gravely offended the writer who saw it in the movie posters."

See, when you wanna swing art dick, it helps to have the basic visual skills to distinguish a contrapposto stance — which is just where your shoulder angle contrasts with your hip angle, drawing a diagonal line that suggests a dynamic pose — with the over-the-shoulder come hither that the original article complained about. It's not even beefing on terminology — to paraphrase your blovation over Caravaggio v. Gentileschi earlier, if you can't tell the difference between those two poses, you have no business offering any opinion about art.

One of the points of these biblical tales expressed in painting is that these were visual parables for an illiterate audience, not necessarily high art allegories for an elite, educated audience. But it's also worth considering that the Baroque Judiths focused on the allegory of virtue victorious over evil, they were Counter-Reformation icons of the Catholic Church victory over evil heretics."

Further, this is idiotic nonsense, where you overgeneralize church art to movements it doesn't apply to. Gentileschi's patron was a Medici; the vast majority of surviving late Renaissance, Mannerist and Baroque art was made for private patrons who were literate and educated. The contemporary "popular" art generally hasn't survived outside of churches and engraving broadsheets.

"Anyway, if you know the personal backstory of Gentileschi, she obviously had her own agenda for using Judith. It served her well during her lifetime when she was able to exploit her own analogous personal scandal to further her career."

Wait, being raped was something she "exploited" to "further her career"? That's a pretty shitty way to frame being raped.

"Feminist historians that assert she "suffered a scholarly neglect that is unthinkable for an artist of her caliber" are missing the point, she "suffered" exactly the proper level of scholarly attention for a minor painter. To suggest otherwise is a feminist political judgement, not an artistic one."

That's bullshit too — Gentileschi had suffered scholarly neglect. Until feminist historians researched her life, many of the works now known to be hers had been attributed to others, and she was a popular artist in her day. I don't know if the fault is you having a glib understanding of art history and just how much scholarship actually goes into "minor" painters and how much is just weird defensive spasms over being forced to consider an artist that you, for whatever reason, don't feel is important enough for your time, but yes, compared to even her father, Gentileschi was under-documented until feminists made the specific investigation into her life.

To suggest otherwise is to make a patriarchal political judgment and to dishonestly paint that judgment with a patina of quasi-objective aesthetic nonsense.
posted by klangklangston at 12:54 AM on April 20, 2012 [18 favorites]


Doesn't "contrapposto" just mean the weight's on one foot? Not the specific over-the-shoulder thing? And isn't it mostly a sculpture thing, about breaking away from that kouroi posture and the kind of sculpture that came out of making whatchacallits that you carve into a wall (frescoes? is that what I mean?), or from those doodads that hold things up (caryatids and the like)? That is, making a more nuanced posture so there's something worth looking at from all the dimensions when you can walk around a statue whose main job is to be a statue?

I think the twisty thing is deliberately putting all "the good stuff" on one side, the side that's presented to the viewer in a two-dimensional medium, but the problem is that boobs, butt and face are a pretty limited concept of what constitutes "the good stuff" and the posture is inherently static (seriously, try to move in that posture. you will fall the hell down.)

The problem is that presenting a static figure of a woman in advertising her role as an action hero is that having that as "the good stuff" foregrounds her sexuality and beauty (literally, I guess)(also conventional beauty standards blah blah I'll leave that aside for now) and totally ignores the fact that she's supposed to be an action hero! Adventuresome! Menacing! Knowledgable! Good at cat burglary! Whatever! Not so much with being the person who's so busy throwing her sexy out that someone could poke her and she'd fall down. We don't see Schwarzenegger or Ryan Reynolds or Brad Pitt or whoever looking coyly over his shoulder so we can see his ass and his legs and his pretty, pretty face. Show the ladies climbing in some windows, putting the battery cables on the space ship to get a jump, whatever. I think you can get that butt and face in there and still have her *doing* something, for pity's sake, above and beyond showing off her pretty sexiness.
posted by gingerest at 12:59 AM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just do not know how to respond to someone who calls me patriarchal for using almost direct quotations from feminist art historians. I am too lazy to go to the trouble to provide citations in response to such a lazy argument. Someone needs to do their research, and it isn't me.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:24 AM on April 20, 2012


[Okay, guys, seriously, this just unbecame the Charlie don't surf's-opinion-on-Gentileschi thread. Enough.]
posted by taz at 1:36 AM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If I actually cared about correct spelling of Italian art history terms, I'd have the required 4 years of Italian language studies and my PhD in Art History by now.

Sure, only a fool would care about such things.
posted by Wolof at 4:29 AM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, to me, contrapposto just means means counterpose, a rebalancing of the sides of a figure with a weight change, it stems from the change from archaic stiff strides in koroi and Egyptian walking figures. Honestly while some of the given example show the classic signs of balance to me, some of them are just slouched over or twisted. There aren't many (the one Venus, maybe) of classical statues with such a degree of torsion and even in that Mantegna sketch which is seriously lovely, she's not looking all the way over her shoulder; the same was true of most of the modern works you had originally posted-- shift in posture, check, but just not taken to the extreme of the original article's examples, nor with the backwards look. These really require an extreme S-curve, which is why I think many of us see them as unbalanced, because they're twisted with the center of weight on one high heel, and looking backwards. This little Aphrodite is unctuously curved, but she doesn't look like she's going to fall over. The modern ones like the Elektra poster, to me, don't look like they've been arrested in movement because often their legs are too far apart to actually walk from, and they'd have to turn their heads back around in order to fight properly. The ones where they're just standing with their head turned aren't unstable, they just look...bored. "Oh, now I'm looking over here. Reverse Egyptian canonical profile!"

What gingerest said:


I think the twisty thing is deliberately putting all "the good stuff" on one side, the side that's presented to the viewer in a two-dimensional medium, but the problem is that boobs, butt and face are a pretty limited concept of what constitutes "the good stuff" and the posture is inherently static (seriously, try to move in that posture. you will fall the hell down.)

Yeah so in the interests of this thread, I actually tried posing around in heels holding a water pistol in front of a mirror, and I don't think my shoulder works properly now. On the plus side I looked SUPER BADASS because I tried finding EVEN MORE BADASS poses so thanks guys! On the downside I kept wobbling, even when my feet were both on the ground, or when together but with my head turned sideways. The whole heel-raised thing makes more sense if you're a victorious general or sultry Aphrodite or maybe even Diana calling the hounds to the hunt, but not so much if you're supposed to be dealing with attackers. Some of them, like the Lara Croft picture, actually have her feet planted solidly. Which, awesome! That's how fighting stances work. But if I ever went to box with the heavy bag with my feet up off the ground while not throwing a punch, I'd justifiably fail to land a solid throw. Fighting from a feet-together-standing-position, also hard, especially in heels.

Judith didn't have to spar with Holofernes. Her act was over and her small battle won, so her poses in these are far older. Maybe soon we'll just have hologram posters and can make You're My Only Hope jokes but in the meantime, I'll continue to see these posters as a sign of a female character emphasized not for her potential actions, but for her silhouette alone.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:05 AM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thank you for the sacrifice of your shoulder to investigate this critical issue, jetlagaddict.
posted by gingerest at 5:30 AM on April 20, 2012


Ugh sorry that should have said "I agree with with gingerest said:" and "judith's poses are more malleable" not older, I have no idea where that came from. My slinky water pistol pose for an edit window...
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:56 AM on April 20, 2012


'cuz she's got a GREAT ASS... and these posters have their heads... ALL THE WAY UP IT!!!
posted by porn in the woods at 8:47 AM on April 20, 2012


Oh man, now I have to trot out my own opinion on depictions of Judith in art history...

For the record, I'm an illustrator-- I actually paint for a living-- and I really don't like Gentileschi. At all. I find her paintings really off-putting and unattractive. I'm not crazy about Caravaggio either, but that's more of a personal preference. I don't think he's a bad artist, I've just heard his praises sung so much, and I don't really care either way. I can't stare at his people all day like I can with Van Dyck or Velázquez.

I find the baroque depictions of Judith not as interesting as what came around later, because to me they have a bit too much BOO-YAH nascent nationalism/Counter-reformation religious warfare in their DNA. I'm way more interested in the symbolist paintings of Judith that came around much later: like Van Stuck's paintings of Judith, or what Klimt did, or Josef Loukota's take on it. Not only do I prefer the bold, rich, graphic nature of the later work-- but Judith is a scarier, almost demonic presence, which I find more interesting (since to be honest I never found her that sympathetic as a character). Plus I'm always a sucker for a good femme fatale.

Oh yeah, the depiction of hawt superhero ladies in movies + posters is pretty lame.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 9:17 AM on April 20, 2012


Yeah so in the interests of this thread, I actually tried posing around in heels holding a water pistol in front of a mirror, and I don't think my shoulder works properly now. On the plus side I looked SUPER BADASS because I tried finding EVEN MORE BADASS poses so thanks guys! On the downside I kept wobbling, even when my feet were both on the ground, or when together but with my head turned sideways. The whole heel-raised thing makes more sense if you're a victorious general or sultry Aphrodite or maybe even Diana calling the hounds to the hunt, but not so much if you're supposed to be dealing with attackers. Some of them, like the Lara Croft picture, actually have her feet planted solidly. Which, awesome! That's how fighting stances work. But if I ever went to box with the heavy bag with my feet up off the ground while not throwing a punch, I'd justifiably fail to land a solid throw. Fighting from a feet-together-standing-position, also hard, especially in heels.


I don't know why anyone wears those things, attackers could show up at any time.
Everyone looks better with their feet actually on the ground.
posted by TheKM at 9:36 AM on April 20, 2012


Having read through this thread, I just want to disabuse people of one idea: The idea that Hollywood makes decisions based on careful market research that guarantees they have made the decision that will give the biggest return on their investment.

This is patently untrue. I have covered the entertainment industry for a long time, and am part of it now, and can tell you that decisions are almost entirely made by superstition. This is an industry that totemically clutches to unproven, unresearched theories about what works and what doesn't. Why can't we have an R-rated big budget action film any more? Because Hollywood has convinced itself that it is impossible to make money at it. Is it? No. No. No. No (ugh).

But somebody looked at the list of the top grossing action films of all time and noticed they tend to be PG-13. And so a superstition was born, and so it is the Benicion Del Toro doesn't get to make Mountains of Madness as an R-rated film, and so the film doesn't get made at all.

Now they have decided that films with "Mars" in the title can't make money, after the failure of Mars Needs Moms. It's why John Carter of Mars was renamed. Did it help? Nope. Do people actually steer clear of movies about Mars? Nope. No.

It's the same superstitious logic that leads to hiring stars for films and paying them $10 million. Is there any evidence that this guarantees a film will make back anything resembling the expense? Any evidence at all?

No. Is there evidence is doesn't help a film at all? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

So the idea that Hollywood keeps producing these images of women because it has been market-tested is nonsense. They keep doing it because they will cravenly appeal to a limited demographic because they superstitiously believe that will guarantee a return on their investment. They will pander, even when that pandering actually alienated a percentage of their audience. Because they think women don't see action films, and that young men won't see action films that star women, and so, when they make an action film that stars women (or features them prominently), they try to pander to a teen boy audience by making them as porny as possible. Does it work? I doubt it. If you think it does, please show your homework. Especially please demonstrate that they haven't lost as many audience members as they have gained, because a lot of women may not care to see an action film that is just an excuse to sexualize a woman.

Look, there's nothing wrong with liking boonbs and butts. And there may be female action figures for whom that sort of pose is appropriate -- characters for whom sexuality is their primary characteristic. But when you take every single female action character and pose her like a porn star, it's communicating a different message.. It's saying "We can't take these women seriously as action heroes, and so we're going to pose them as sex objects." And when it is done so relentlessly, with female actor after female actor after female actor, again and again and again, it's a problem.

And it doesn't stop being a problem just because you are the one being pandered to.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:17 AM on April 20, 2012 [32 favorites]


you know what I'd like to see, suburbanbeatnik? Some modern digital painters doing new Judiths, using the sort of dynamic hai-karate pose you would expect to see someone assume who is actually about to strike (or has just struck) a neck-severing blow with a sword.

Judith's sandwich slice as shown in the Caravaggio would certainly cut the man's jugular vein and kill him. But cut his head off? That doesn't seem remotely credible. There are bones in there, you know. Conan (or Arnie) maybe could do it one-handed but a normal sized woman is going to have to wind herself up a lot like the movie poster that set this whole thread off (though she won't be looking behind herself giving the viewer the eye) and snap that sword down using her legs, hips, back, shoulders, and both arms. Try it on a bone-in ham some time.

Caravaggio, now. He's a painter of the first rank but not, to my mind, up at the tippy-top. He certainly had incredible paint-handling technique, but I honestly don't much care for what he applies this technique to. Lots of fruit that's well past its sell-by date and on (or over) the edge of going bad, and lots of people in the same state--young but already going soft and puffy in the face like Elvis or Jim Morrison after the lifestyle started to show. And he must have known this was his forte, he did so much of it. Withall, not quite a one trick pony like Francis Bacon but trending in that direction.
posted by jfuller at 10:29 AM on April 20, 2012


Bunny Ultramod, thank you for putting down a well-studied and well-phrased rebuttal.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:14 AM on April 20, 2012


Try it on a bone-in ham some time.

For the record, jfuller, the human neck is much, much easier to sever than that, as it's made of several short bones lashed together with tendons and ligaments.

But Judith, as a pre-20th-c wife, would know that, and would know how to sunder the vertebrae from experience in the kitchen. A boning knife is what's needed; the man would be dead before that stage was reached.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:25 AM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look, there's nothing wrong with liking boobs and butts. And there may be female action figures for whom that sort of pose is appropriate -- characters for whom sexuality is their primary characteristic. But when you take every single female action character and pose her like a porn star - Bunny Ultramod

Like a porn star? No. Actually, more like a pinup girl. Betty Grable, in fact. Who never went nude in her career, let alone did porn, and who chose that pose in 1943 because it showed off her legs.

Grable starred in a movie known as "Million Dollar Legs" with her then husband, Jackie Cloogan, in 1939. At that time, she was determined to quit the movie business because she felt her roles were all the same and she was being typecast. She said she was "sick and tired" of acting.

But Darryl Zanuck offered Grable a bigger, better contract with Twentieth Century Fox, and she accepted. One of the reasons she was able to make a comeback and ultimately become a movie star was because Fox publicized the heck out of what Grable considered her best feature, her legs.

Fox even insured Grable's legs for $1000000 with Lloyd's of London, thus actually making Grable the "Million Dollar Legs" woman.

Grable created that looking-back-over-the-shoulder pose for her pinup poster in 1943. That iconic poster was considered by LIFE magazine to be one of the "100 Photos that Changed the World," and I'm honestly really annoyed that so many people, including the blogger of this post, seem to know so little history that they don't realize that's when the pose became so popular for movie advertising.

Is the pose objectifying? Well, it certainly shows off her legs. That's what it was designed to do. Did it help the studio, and Zanuck, make money? Absolutely.

It also finally garnered Grable the attention she deserved, so that she earned the title of "one of the top ten movie stars" in the world that same year. And lest there be no misunderstandings, Grable definitely benefited from that pinup pose materially, as well.

In 1946-1947, according to the Treasury Department, Betty Grable was the highest paid woman in America, earning $300,000 a year.

In the 1960's, when her then-husband went through all the money she had saved up(!), Grable was able to use that iconic pose in Playtex 18-hour bra commercials to earn a living again.
posted by misha at 11:29 AM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


*It's the same superstitious logic that leads to hiring stars for films and paying them $10 million. Is there any evidence that this guarantees a film will make back anything resembling the expense? Any evidence at all?

No. Is there evidence is doesn't help a film at all? Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.*

Wrong. Your evidence is anecdata.

The Ulmer Scale is a fixture in producers' and casting directors' expense accounts, because star involvement most certainly does have an impact on how a movie is marketed and how it opens. The entertainment media publishes top 10 lists, but industry professionals spend a few thousand each year to have access to the full list of ~1500 well-known actors and an analysis of past performance and (producer) peer ratings. There's indepdent research from Harvard Business school based on a popular 'movie stock exchange' game with ~1/2 a million players, which is tightly correlated with box office receipts.

Star power has been dropping since the onset of the recession, very likely because people want something new and different and many of the previously top-rated stars got started in teh 80s and have now passed the zenith of their career arcs. But to assert that the fame of a film's stars has nothing to do with its box office performance is laughable. The fame of a star is a marketing element, and the high salaries that stars are able to command is a reflection of their ability to function as a draw at the box office. Lots of people, especially younger viewers - who spend the most on cinema-going and secondary market media - go to see a film because of who is in it rather than what it is about. This is the reason sci-fi and horror films are less likely to have a famous star: the subject matter aims to be sufficiently engaging that it will attract people on the basis of curiosity. Novelty sells itself, as does spectacle.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:37 AM on April 20, 2012


You know the Ulmer Scale is nothing but anecdata, yes? That it seeks to quantify unquantifiable things, such as "talent" and "career management." That it imbeds industry prejudices into the scale, like the idea that if you do a daytime soap you somehow magically become less bankable than if you didn't -- unproven, and there is evidence to the contrary. (More.)

Pointing to a psuedoscientific A-list doesn't demonstrate that Hollywood doesn't make decisions based on superstition. It helps prove it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:47 AM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, in terms of movie stars guaranteeing a return -- somehow the movie industry has made a decision about R-rated films that is based on grosses, but neglected to do so based on supposed star power. Let us look at the top grossing films:

1-5:

Avatar: No A-list leads
Titanic: No A-List leads (DiCaprio was not then an A-list actor)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: No A-List leads
Transformers: Dark of the Moon: No A-List leads
The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King: No A-List leads

6-8 features A-list leads, and I think the case can be made that Johnny Depp was the selling point for the Pirates of the Caribbean films. But I would also make the case that it was his performance, not his presence, that appealed to people. But surely the studios knew that, and that's why the cast him. Nope. They hated his performance.

9 is the first Star Wars. Harrison Ford is the only A-Lister in the film, and wasn't when it was made.

The list continues like that. The number of top-grossing films that do not have A-list leads far outnumber those that do. I can imagine that a star might goose a film that would otherwise perform very badly into only performing moderately badly, but, then, I have yet to see any evidence that the total gains brought in by the presence of the star equal the cost of hiring the star. And keep in mind, the cost of having a star is far more than just their payroll. They also come with a team of assistants, who all cost money. They get multiple perks from the studio (I have been in Ashton Kutcher's trailer at Two and a Half Men, and it is a monster.) They fly first class. They have their own dining area and often their own cook. They get put up at 4-star hotels or even have houses rented for them. The costs of hiring a star are astronomical, and the reason they are hired is because they are treated like rabbit's feet. But the Ulmer Scale is notorious for keeping people in the scale who fail to perform in the box office again and again, such a Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:01 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


And lest there be no misunderstandings, Grable definitely benefited from that pinup pose materially, as well.

I don't understand why people keep making statements like this-- the idea, I suppose, is that if a woman can be shown to have benefited in any way from something, that negates any possibility of that something being sexist? That doesn't make any sense. The black actors in Birth of a Nation got paid, too.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:26 PM on April 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


And the thing about Betty Grable is that she was a pin-up model. There may be people who take issue with that, but her pin-ip shots were undeniably in the context of doing pin-up. When she appeared in posters for movies, it was not in pin-up poses. (Mostly.)

Sue Storm is not a pin-up girl. But when Jessica Alba plays her, they treat her like one.

And she's not even the most egregiously sexualized.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:39 PM on April 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


You know the Ulmer Scale is nothing but anecdata, yes? That it seeks to quantify unquantifiable things, such as "talent" and "career management."

No, I don't know that. There are a lot of box-office/ratings metrics involved, both first and second order, and the reputational stuff is based on polling rather than isolated incidents. If 17 out of 23 producers tell you that actor X has a tendency to show up hung over, that's probably a reliable guide despite the small sample size. Whether an actor needs a morals clause in a contract or is going to specify a lot of riders has a strong bearing on the price that will eventually be negotiated. The hot list is hardly infallible, but it's sufficiently well-established that consulting and considering it is basic due diligence for entertainment attorneys, casting directors, and production accountants.

That it imbeds industry prejudices into the scale, like the idea that if you do a daytime soap you somehow magically become less bankable than if you didn't -- unproven, and there is evidence to the contrary.

Everyone who works in casting knows that people are reluctant to pay money to view people in a movie that they can see for free on TV, though TV exposure helps in the early stages of an actor's career. You can find exceptions to any trend, and one of the key industry skills is knowing how to spot such exceptions. But over the long run, it's hard to beat the market. And it is a market.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:35 PM on April 20, 2012


Everyone who works in casting knows that people are reluctant to pay money to view people in a movie that they can see for free on TV

Can you back this statement up with any actual data?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:40 PM on April 20, 2012


Some modern digital painters doing new Judiths, using the sort of dynamic hai-karate pose you would expect to see someone assume who is actually about to strike (or has just struck) a neck-severing blow with a sword.

That might be fun to see, but Judith is not supposed to be someone who had ever beheaded someone before, or even fought with or handled a sword. And she is not supposed to have lopped off the head with a single blow. She should be portrayed as someone who does not know what she's doing and is having a bit of a hard time with it - and who is surprised and maybe a bit grossed out by what the reality of beheading someone with a big old sword is really like.

Judith's sandwich slice as shown in the Caravaggio would certainly cut the man's jugular vein and kill him. But cut his head off? That doesn't seem remotely credible. There are bones in there, you know.

His head is not cut off in the Caravaggio. She has just completed the first of two cuts, having grabbed his hair and then sliced his neck from the tip of the sword to the handle, cutting about 1/3 of the way through (it's a sharp sword) and causing the fountain of blood to follow the motion of the blade away from the neck. She has just hit bone and she's both grossed out and frustrated as she realizes that she's going to have to take another hack at it to finish the job. We are not seeing Judith mid-slice, but at the end of one slice during the repose before the second strike.
posted by The World Famous at 1:47 PM on April 20, 2012


Everyone who works in casting knows that people are reluctant to pay money to view people in a movie that they can see for free on TV

Can you back this statement up with any actual data?


Yes, for the low, low fee of $850. Or hit up someone with a current Baseline subscription (which I no longer do) and crunch the numbers yourself. For every James Franco that does soap for a giggle, there's 100 people yearning to escape that ghetto. The recession levels things to some extent and the SAF/AFTRA merger will break down the barriers further, although to my mind the biggest driver is the increase in the number and quality of cable offerings compared to the previous domination of network television. But there's a reason that being a 'TV actor' has traditionally been a limiting career factor.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:58 PM on April 20, 2012


I am a SAG-AFTRA member and on the EEO and Women's committee (although I don't claim to speak for either; just to establish that I have some connection to this world). I have access to the data. And from my perspective, the Ulmer Scale is somewhat useful if you're worried your actor might be a drunk and demonstrably useless as a predictor of anything else.

It's curious that I keep backing up what I say with evidence, and you wave that away with accusations of anecdotes, but then point to an inaccessible miracle report produced for-profit by a former entertainment journalist as being the source for the stuff "everybody in casting knows."

If there is one thing I have discovered again and again, when subject to any sort of rigorous test, these things that everybody knows turns out to be superstitions bolstered by bad data. And if there is one thing I hear repeatedly, it's that soap opera actors are trapped in the ghetto, not because the fans won't watch them on the silver screen, but because casting directors won't even look at them. And why won't casting directors look at them?

Because everybody knows the audience doesn't want to watch them anywhere else.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:05 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, this is all off the topic, and the A-list has nothing to do with whether or not pin-up images of action stars have been thoroughly vetted by a marketing research firm. Having known somebody who did poster design for FOX, I can assure that, at least with that studio, they haven't.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 3:07 PM on April 20, 2012


Avatar: No A-list leads
Titanic: No A-List leads (DiCaprio was not then an A-list actor)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: No A-List leads
Transformers: Dark of the Moon: No A-List leads
The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King: No A-List leads

6-8 features A-list leads, and I think the case can be made that Johnny Depp was the selling point for the Pirates of the Caribbean films. But I would also make the case that it was his performance, not his presence, that appealed to people. But surely the studios knew that, and that's why the cast him. Nope. They hated his performance.

9 is the first Star Wars. Harrison Ford is the only A-Lister in the film, and wasn't when it was made.


You make my point for me: I specifically said that sci-fi/horror films get by without top talent because they can be marketed on novelty (though I should have included fantasy next to sci-fi). High-concept films are their own raison d'etre and the casting is secondary; they're also much more likely to be director-driven. Notwithstanding this, producers will still look for B- and C-List actors.

Take star wars, again. Harrison Ford was not an A-lister then, but he was an established character actor, as was Carrie Fisher. And Alec Guinness Alec Guinness didn't end up in the cast by accident.

The costs of hiring a star are astronomical, and the reason they are hired is because they are treated like rabbit's feet. But the Ulmer Scale is notorious for keeping people in the scale who fail to perform in the box office again and again, such a Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.

...which is exactly what you would expect from a statistical tool. And 'failure to perform' is very dependent on how you count performance. Take Tree of Life; $13 million at the domestic box office is poor even though it was an art film, but it made $41m overseas and foreign sales frequently beat domestic for A-listers. But the real story is in the DVD sales #s (and nowadays streaming too), which are closely guarded - although the numbers does a decent job on estimating these, and you can generally assume some correlation between foreign box-office and secondary market performance. Not that many people will rent or watch Tree of Life, but you can be pretty sure most people will eventually get around to seeing Moneyball.

I know all about the costs of hiring a star. And I assure you taht those costs are taken into considerations from early on in the process. Film revenue projections usually include 10 comparators and three different performance scenarios in about ~20 revenue categories,a nd buying the market data for those comparators is a standard development expense.Nobody knows for certain how a given film will perform or exactly what % of its cash flow is driven by any one element such as the fame of attached stars, but you can bet investors study this closely.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:03 PM on April 20, 2012


> That might be fun to see, but Judith is not supposed to be someone who had ever beheaded someone
> before, or even fought with or handled a sword. And she is not supposed to have lopped off the
> head with a single blow.

I'll give you the two cuts, because the source gives you the two cuts:

[6] Then she came to the pillar of the bed, which was at Holofernes' head, and took down his fauchion from thence, [7] And approached to his bed, and took hold of the hair of his head, and said, Strengthen me, O Lord God of Israel, this day. [8] And she smote twice upon his neck with all her might, and she took away his head from him.

But I'd like to see more evidence of the "with all her might" part. Maybe I'll take a whack at it myself.
posted by jfuller at 4:15 PM on April 20, 2012


Yeah, having a hard time seeing the Hollywood as being run on much more than the gut-feel of jaded coke addicts here, to be honest.
posted by Artw at 4:17 PM on April 20, 2012


Carrie Fischer had a 10-minute walk on before she did Star Wars. And that's it.

Listen, I don't mean to harp on this, but one thing I have repeatedly experienced is that the film industry will try to pass off prejudice as fact. Such as the unsupported claim that science fiction films get a special pass by virtue of the fact that ... They just do.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:21 PM on April 20, 2012


But I'd like to see more evidence of the "with all her might" part. Maybe I'll take a whack at it myself.

It doesn't count if all your might doesn't include extra divine intervention strength.

That said, if this guy can do this with a falchion without a whole lot of apparent "might," maybe it's not so far-fetched to think Judith could get 1/3 of the way through a neck with the first blow.
posted by The World Famous at 5:10 PM on April 20, 2012


> Curious, then what are action movies posters supposed to look like

They could show action. One problem with the T&A Pose is that in order to strike it (as much as is humanly possible) is that you have to come to a full stop and carefully arrange yourself, especially if you're doing it in heels.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:30 PM on April 20, 2012


Anyway, this is all off the topic, and the A-list has nothing to do with whether or not pin-up images of action stars have been thoroughly vetted by a marketing research firm. Having known somebody who did poster design for FOX, I can assure that, at least with that studio, they haven't.

It's curious that I keep backing up what I say with evidence, and you wave that away with accusations of anecdotes, but then point to an inaccessible miracle report produced for-profit by a former entertainment journalist as being the source for the stuff "everybody in casting knows."

Single examples are not data, and in-depth data costs money. I do not care enough about winning an internet argument to spend cash to purchase the data or spend many hours cutting and pasting publicly-available data into Excel and running multivariate regression analyses on it. It's hard enough to do this for a small number of films, never mind across a whole industry. You can buy Ulmer's shallow-but-useful analysis for $200, or you can spend several thousand getting fine-grained data from Nash or Baseline or one of the other industry services.

Yeah, having a hard time seeing the Hollywood as being run on much more than the gut-feel of jaded coke addicts here, to be honest.

Well, see for yourself: you can have a free trial of a data research service, or delve into the exciting world of SEC compliance for financial offerings or develop your own analytical methods. Gut feeling plays a role, but film is essentially a specialist kind of venture capital business and investors like data.

Carrie Fischer had a 10-minute walk on before she did Star Wars. And that's it.

...yes...in a film that starred Warren Beatty, Goldi Hawn and Julie Christie, and was written by Beatty and Robert Towne. It helps to have a parent in the industry.

Listen, I don't mean to harp on this, but one thing I have repeatedly experienced is that the film industry will try to pass off prejudice as fact. Such as the unsupported claim that science fiction films get a special pass by virtue of the fact that ... They just do.

Actually, the claim I made was that they get that by virtue of novelty, and this is mainly true for high-concept films as opposed to character-driven dramas. People want to see something they haven't seen before. This is the same reason that horror films don't need stars; aficionados of that genre want to see something new (within certain accepted conventions), and it's usually a lot cheaper to do gore than high-tech. So you can substitute one sort of production value (special effects or startling villains) for another (famous actors)...up to the point where you start cannibalizing the more basic production elements or eating into the post budget.

[posters] could show action. One problem with the T&A Pose is that in order to strike it (as much as is humanly possible) is that you have to come to a full stop and carefully arrange yourself, especially if you're doing it in heels.

A problem there is that pictures of action often don't look good out of context - it's not obvious what's going on why or why you should care. Posters are designed to grab your attention rather than reward it.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:49 PM on April 20, 2012


Posters are designed to grab your attention rather than reward it.

Indeed. Mere "awareness" is considered an important part of marketing, even if those being surveyed don't even plan to see the movie. If you've seen and remember their poster, it is a successful poster (at least in that respect)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:56 PM on April 20, 2012


Posters are designed to grab your attention rather than reward it.

Whose attention? My problem with these posters is they say, "this is for men". "This" could be the movie or this particular character in the movie but either way, the poster says to me as a woman that what I want to see is irrelevant. They close a door rather than open one.

Why can't more action-oriented poses grab attention? That doesn't make sense. When men are the stars of the movie they're often in action poses.
posted by Danila at 7:48 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why can't more action-oriented poses grab attention? That doesn't make sense.

So, first, let me make clear that I am not defending the pose that is the subject of the linked article. The "look at my boobs and butt at the same time" thing is sexist and ridiculous and needs to go away.

Then, to address your question: An action-oriented pose can grab attention. But there is more dramatic and dynamic tension in a still image that anticipates action than in one that freeze-frames the action itself. It's the difference between Michelangelo's David and Bernini's David. They are both brilliant. They are both effective. But they show different things - and have different effects on the viewer.

So yeah, action-oriented poses can grab attention. But guess who's David is more famous - and not because you can see his junk.
posted by The World Famous at 8:12 PM on April 20, 2012


dynamic tension

Great. Now I'm forced to read the entire rest of your post in Dr. Frank N. Furter's voice.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:52 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doesn't everyone do that already?
posted by The World Famous at 8:57 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, how do you think Catwoman should be costumed, if not in some manner reminiscent of a cat?

How about she just thinks she's a cat? Because she's crazy. She doesn't have to wear a special costume that says "I am a cat" on the front. And Batman doesn't have to prance around in a bat suit. He could just call himself (or think of himself) as a bat-like man because he hides in a cave and comes out at night and lives a secretly inverted life.

But that's what you might have in an entertainment for adults. Comics are not that.
posted by pracowity at 9:01 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The "look at my boobs and butt at the same time" thing is sexist and ridiculous and needs to go away.

That's yet to be agreed upon though, right? I know a lot of women who love that pose because it makes them look/feel like a badass. Showing your back to someone, in an action context, can be seen as a sign of fearlessness (insofar as ones back is generally their most vulnerable spot)

Granted, it's probably no coincidence that a lot of the more (ahem) titlating body parts are on full display in that pose, but you've got to admit, it looks badass. The heroine in question could be saying "I've got this" to the rest of her team, before charging into battle. Or she could be looking with disdain as she slow-mo walks away from a defeated enemy.

The point is, "I'm so not-afraid of anything, I'm willing to show my back to any threats behind me, and if that's not enough for ya, I don't even have to LOOK at any threats in front of me, because I can totally handle that shit.

Granted, this really only works in an "action movie" scenario, or some other film wherein the heroine finds herself facing down a bunch of antagonists. The sexism part of it, I think, can only be gauged by intent. Is the subject "heading into trouble, and giving us a last look-back"? Or is she just simply standing there for no reason other than "check out my ass in this costume"?

There's certainly enough gratuitous ass in movie posters to warrant some kind of airstrike on whoever it is that's making some of these posters, but this pose, as presented in most of these posters, seems like it's just trying to say "badass female" as opposed to "female with nice ass".
posted by ShutterBun at 9:08 PM on April 20, 2012


But that's what you might have in an entertainment for adults. Comics are not that.

Comic fans are adults. The majority of them are between 18-30 years old.
posted by misha at 9:12 PM on April 20, 2012


Childhood has expanded.
posted by pracowity at 9:19 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


TWF, first, that speaks to why "real art pros" grab all of my goats in one basket; seriously, the second one is AWESOME, yet, yeah, Mikey's is everywhere (sooo many art text-books have that image in them, to the exclusion of the awesome). The action pose is great, boring pose is boring (but yet a human pose, unlike the cartoony "digi-artist" collages of features that make up the "back-looking-woman-movie poster" pose).

What if it only makes me aware of how much it sucks?

Posters grab boys attention, sure, maybe, I guess, and maybe some girls, too... but so do blinking lights and loud noises.

But what is it saying to each of them? Does anyone saying this isn't a "problem", or that they don't subscribe to "feminism", see any problem with the message conveyed when a WOMAN hero is delegitimized, and objectified, merely to "grab" a boys attention? Why don't girls get women posed like normal heroes, symbols to look up to? Why are you afraid to grab women's attention? Does it ever make people who don't see this "pose" as even worth thinking about as a problem that women are ubiquitously there to "grab attention", while men get to be the "main attraction"?

Bella is so boring, though! She doesn't even have any hobbies, unless you count "complaining about what a pathetic clumsy loser you are" as a hobby.

Look, I'm not interested in the series of books, I did see one of the movies, it was a movie alright, no Blade 2, or kickpuncher, but a small amount of searching showed me that, like many young women, she is HUGELY loving of reading (understandably hard to express this in a film, without some group complaining that they are only looking for "literature authenticity points"). A space which is, unlike the visual pop-culture media world, not (totally) dominated by using women, as "posesable" things (instead, the world of words still allows space for women to breathe, as fully human, complex characters, rather than collections of features photoshopped into poster form, so as to most efficiently deliver her objectification, each market "tested" and "designed" to "grab" (your [Boys]) attention. Even that is faulty hollyweird logic; seriously, if you design a less objectifying, and sexist poster, it will STOP driving women away from all the movies, also, boys are not completely incompetent and pavlovian, like, if they "need" to see T&A&Faces... the internet is a thing that exists... and it isn't like those boys have FORGOTTEN that the woman in the poster has breasts, or a bum...

Boys can remember that women have secondary sexual features without having all three photoshopped into contortionist poses (Contrapposto they aint [that would just be offset stance, one foot up, one down, not these abstract collaged escher-women]).

It is interesting that women are there to "grab attention", while men get to be, and have role models and icons "who we all want to be".

I am a boy but I think it sucks that our society sees no problem in "grabbing the attention of potential moviegoers", do so by showing women "Trying" to be as "sexy" as possible (for a very sort of specific definition of that word).

What the hell does that say to girls who want to be heroes? Or who have no desire to be possessed by another person.

Besides some kind of really ugly, segregating NOT FOR YOU, DUDETTE. WE'RE HERE TO SEE WOMENS BUMS (and assorted features shopped onto a single 2-d image). Now POSE FOR US!

This idea that boys are the "only" potential audience for movies, so everyone else should suck it up and just let the current cultural norms be the norms... is wrong, very, very, very VERY wrong. but also... have we no imagination that boys can learn to appreciate other aspects of women? Characters perhaps?
You know that whole conversation about how women don’t go to the movies and are not a film market? You know that conversation that we hear over and over as the big reason why we are inundated with crappy boy films week in and week out.
...
Yes, folks — women go to the movies more than men do.
And lest there be no misunderstandings, Grable definitely benefited from that pinup pose materially, as well.
In 1946-1947, according to the Treasury Department, Betty Grable was the highest paid woman in America, earning $300,000 a year.


Was Grable really the highest paid at that time? What about Carmen Miranda, "By 1946 she was Hollywood's highest-paid entertainer and top female tax payer in the United States", "she was, by some accounts, the highest-earning woman in the United States and noted for her signature fruit hat outfit she wore in the 1943 movie The Gang's All Here. Though hailed as a talented performer, her movie roles in the United States soon became cartoonish and she grew to resent them".

Is Miranda not allowed to resent the caricature of cultures that she was used to portray and sell?

Also, well, is it interesting to note that the highest paid women were paid to put their bodies on display? How many men were earning that ball-park of salary, in other arenas (I know that there were, and are, male actors who rely on their looks, just like women participate in patriarchy [folks who study FGM will often have to note to those unaware of the practice, that older women fully participate in perpetuating the practice], women can "profit" from their own exploitation, and men can participate in their own objectification).
posted by infinite intimation at 9:23 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Agreed about Twilight; I don't understand the hate. It's not genius, but... neither is most entertainment for young boys. I agree that the sexual scripts involved in Bella's relationship with Edward are worthy of questioning, but... it's really not completely insipid when it comes to her feelings and family relationships, and it clearly gives young girls a character to identify with, who really is a subject. You see the world through her eyes. Not that bad?

seems like it's just trying to say "badass female" as opposed to "female with nice ass"

It's trying to do both, but the idea of "badass female" that appeals to men is one who is clothed in a latex body suit, wearing unrealistic heels and standing in a pose that would probably make her fall over. So maybe let's not pretend that it's innocent, especially when Bunny Ultramod posted that hilaaaaarious third Sue Storm photo, I mean Christ. I cracked up.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:36 PM on April 20, 2012


I have a feeling that this author could have made the same (or at least equally compelling) point about the following pose:

"Female heroine lands from leaping down, and ends up landing on one foot and one hand, with her other leg extended, and her free hand out in some kewl pose." Example (Kate Beckinsdale in "Underworld," Malin Ackerman as Silk Spectre, Scarlett Johansen as Black Widow, I'm looking at you here)

And then follow it up with the same advice for the boy heroes like Iron Man or...

Fuck it, it's already a trope. (shoulda known)

Three Point Landing

GAWD I hate that!
posted by ShutterBun at 10:14 PM on April 20, 2012


That's yet to be agreed upon though, right? I know a lot of women who love that pose because it makes them look/feel like a badass. Showing your back to someone, in an action context, can be seen as a sign of fearlessness (insofar as ones back is generally their most vulnerable spot)

And I know women who like to duckface in photos and women who make goofy zombie faces in photos. Just because some women you know like that pose doesn't mean all women do, and the problem here with these movie posters is that that's all the women portrayed here are doing - that hip-wrenching pseudo-sexy-action pose.

And showing someone your back in an action context is just asking to get shot between the shoulderblades. If I have to believe Black Widow is a world-class assassin, I'm going to believe she's not going to do something as dumb as turn around in the middle of a fight to look over her shoulder in a static pose.

Granted, it's probably no coincidence that a lot of the more (ahem) titlating body parts are on full display in that pose, but you've got to admit, it looks badass.

...no, not really. Look, if you like it, that's your bag. But that's not a 'badass' pose, or even a really dangerous or menacing one. It's a sexualised version of badass designed to appeal to what studios think is their main demographic. That in itself isn't bad, but it gets boring and silly when that's all we see, over and over again for every 'badass' female character in every movie out there.

I mean, hell. I may or may not have cheered out loud in the theatre when Salt took off her heels before running up stairs. And then she put on proper boots! It was awesome.
posted by zennish at 10:37 PM on April 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


how do you think Catwoman should be costumed, if not in some manner reminiscent of a cat?

My cat is totally showing me his boobs and his butt at the moment, FWIW.

Oh god, you so don't want to know what he's doing now.
posted by Artw at 10:40 PM on April 20, 2012


My problem with these posters is they say, "this is for men". "This" could be the movie or this particular character in the movie but either way, the poster says to me as a woman that what I want to see is irrelevant. They close a door rather than open one.

I can see that, though the last two episodes in the franchise tilted about 60-40 towards men so I guess they're pursuing the market they know. On the other hand, I don't feel especially excluded when I see a film marketed towards women.

It is interesting that women are there to "grab attention", while men get to be, and have role models and icons "who we all want to be".

No, posters are there to grab attention, and try to do so in different ways. There are many non-pinup style posters featuring women. Hunger Games certainly offers a strong female lead, to cite one current example. All the (Marvel) Avengers posters of Scarlett Johansson that I've seen so far show engaged in gun-toting badassery - firing a gun, or walking towards the 'camera' or in a face-on group shot. I'm staying within the scifi/action genre here, but I think it's fair to say there are feminist-friendly alternatives.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:54 PM on April 20, 2012


(I saw the movie on TV and read almost all of the first book. I am a woman so devoted to reading I have active cards for five public and two university libraries. I do not remember movie Bella reading or carrying a book. If reading was her hobby I retract my screed.)
posted by gingerest at 11:34 PM on April 20, 2012


That in itself isn't bad, but it gets boring and silly when that's all we see

I have a feeling that if it were indeed being characterized as "boring and silly" then everyone would have a good laugh.

Instead, nope. Misogynists and sexists abound, and if we're not part of the solution, we're part of the problem. (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong)
posted by ShutterBun at 4:30 AM on April 21, 2012


showing someone your back in an action context is just asking to get shot between the shoulderblades.

Not if you've incapacitated/disarmed them.

Come on, man. If you want to disprove a movie-watcher's interpretation of a poster, you'll have to do better.

If I have to believe Black Widow is a world-class assassin, I'm going to believe she's not going to do something as dumb as turn around in the middle of a fight to look over her shoulder in a static pose.

I'm not saying you're wrong for having that opinion. I'm just saying that pretty much a whole bunch of movies featuring ass-kicking people (of either gender) tend to disagree (or not care). They also hope that the suspension of disbelief is not insurmountable, otherwise you're really not going to enjoy the giant space-robots.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:41 AM on April 21, 2012


ShutterBun ... I don't think you're being disingenuous or anything, but ...

It's meant to be read as a badass action pose? Despite the fact that it is almost invariably women in the pose? Despite the fact that maybe half of the first fifty or so comments in this thread were "this pose is great because woo sexy butts"? Despite the fact that one of the main counterarguments against the article has been "sex sells so this isn't going to change"? Despite the fact that quite a lot of people clearly are seeing it as being a weak, oddly posed body posture angled for maximum sexiness and the person who sees it as "I am so badass I can show you my butt, disarmed bad guy", is pretty much only you?

... Really?
posted by kyrademon at 6:08 AM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


I guess my only real rebuttal is: are any of the females (or males, in fact) featured in this pose *not* given an ass-kicking moment/reputation in these movies?

Seems like the pose is at least *mostly* reserved for "people who kick ass at some point" as opposed to "people whose butts look good on posters."

I don't wanna get too altruistic about it. Ass sells, etc. But it seems like most of these examples are at least trying to say "this woman kicks ass, dontcha know?" And let's face it: if you're in a movie where you're kicking ass and not being built like a refrigerator, chances are you've got a nice enough ass to put on a poster, right?

the person who sees it as "I am so badass I can show you my butt, disarmed bad guy", is pretty much only you?

I'm the only one to articulate it in this thread, yes. Whether or not I'm the only one to see it that way is probably up for debate.

It's entirely possible that I'm being overly defensive toward a staple of the "guys who take pictures of people's asses" industry. But speaking for myself, I can definitely see a huge difference between a picture of an ass-kicker who happens to be showing their ass, and a picture of a stunt-ass presenting like a Mandrill in order to lure the yellow-sock crowd.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:27 AM on April 21, 2012


(I also have a feeling that this trope would be a lot more cross-gender recognizable if guys didn't end up wearing trench coats so often in movies, so yeah, I guess costume design has a lot to do with it as well)
posted by ShutterBun at 6:31 AM on April 21, 2012


I guess my only real rebuttal is: are any of the females (or males, in fact) featured in this pose *not* given an ass-kicking moment/reputation in these movies?

It's flirty or sexy, not tough.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:09 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


You have got me there.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:43 AM on April 21, 2012


It's meant to be read as a badass action pose? Despite the fact that it is almost invariably women in the pose?

Most of the poses in the original pose struck me as sexy ass kicker. Women holding two guns are none for being pushovers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:56 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Women holding two guns are none for being pushovers.

It's not as simple as guns = asskicker. Sometimes the guns are visual stand-ins for penises, for example, and the eroticisation of the violence is always more complex.
posted by Forktine at 12:16 PM on April 21, 2012


Sometimes the guns are visual stand-ins for penises.

I'm surprised that this piece of pop-psychology has survived for as long as it has. As holdover from the old days of psychostuffing, it seems so obviously backwards. My pop-psychology is way better. The "long object" is one of the oldest and most intuitively understood shapes for delivering force that exists. Canine teeth, horns, sticks, spears, and dicks all share the same basic shape in order to apply force or, in human terms, power. Power as we've all heard is "the ultimate aphrodisiac" because it provides survivability and reproductive success (less directly in the modern world obviously, but still enough) and that shape expresses power in a way that is deeply recognizable.

"Person with sword/gun/bat" is an easily understood power fantasy. This is why you never see action hero posters with some dude wielding a grenade or something like that. Sure, you might know that it's an object of power intellectually, but you can't feel it the way you can with a good old fashioned lever in the fist.

The "girls with guns" trope is a double. Power and sexual fantasy at the same time.
posted by Winnemac at 7:05 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


stoneandstar: "Agreed about Twilight; I don't understand the hate. It's not genius, but... neither is most entertainment for young boys. I agree that the sexual scripts involved in Bella's relationship with Edward are worthy of questioning, but... it's really not completely insipid when it comes to her feelings and family relationships, and it clearly gives young girls a character to identify with, who really is a subject. You see the world through her eyes. Not that bad?"

I dislike Twilight since Bella seems rather the cypher designed purely to act as an audience proxy.

And don't get me started on my disgust for an old immortal only seeming interested in teenage nookie...
posted by Samizdata at 7:27 PM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]



"Person with sword/gun/bat" is an easily understood power fantasy. This is why you never see action hero posters with some dude wielding a grenade or something like that. Sure, you might know that it's an object of power intellectually, but you can't feel it the way you can with a good old fashioned lever in the fist.


Perhaps a "good old fashioned lever in the fist" only scans as a power fantasy for men? I certainly don't get why person with a grenade or a finger on a big red button for that matter would be viewed as less powerful than the same person with a sword.
posted by peppermind at 6:22 AM on April 22, 2012


I certainly don't get why person with a grenade or a finger on a big red button for that matter would be viewed as less powerful than the same person with a sword.

They definitely could, my point is just that it would require extra thinking on the part of the viewer to realize this. "What that, a button? Oh I see, the button probably triggers that thing over there. Quite dangerous isn't it!" With the big stick-shaped thing the reaction is immediate before you even know what the thing is.
posted by Winnemac at 10:07 AM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bruno just won this argument, everyone can go home.
posted by palliser at 1:00 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


so like, this thread is over, but in case scouts from the future are wondering the posters are silly boring and sexist. like, repeatedly and overwhelmingly depicting women who are supposed to be cool in silly boring ways when men are not so much is some definitional-class sexism imo. thanks borat!

and i agree totally with bella as bland audience-cypher, it's just a relief that she's not meant to be a beautiful sexy heroine empowered through her sexiness. (when i read hunger games i was unpleasantly surprised by how much katniss is the same, so i think both heroines are actually more interesting to me in the movies, where they have to be somewhat more substantial). it reminds me of that study someone posted here recently (maybe?) about how young girls are more inspired by role models in the sciences who are dressed practically than those who are dressed femininely. i don't have anything against femme women (i am one) but it is a relief every once in awhile to be inspired by/identify with someone whose primary source of empowerment isn't her sexual attractiveness. even if she's kind of a blank slate in a shitty romance narrative. (and edward totally creeps me out. TEAM JACOB, i cry once more unto the breach)
posted by stoneandstar at 12:30 AM on April 27, 2012


Yes, the Hunger Games is totally awesome because the same Hollywood douchebags that market every single other movie out there, for some reason didn't apply the same cliche' pose to Katniss, because she's so awesome and we should all love her for all her awesome skills and not her looks and stuff, and... then... oops.

Granted, that's far from a media-saturation image, but it happened. And yeah, we're talking about motion picture marketing here, not learning materials for young adults. I can't really argue with "this shit sends a bad message" or "this shit is fucked up." Unless there's some way to demonstrate that both: "this is harmfull to people" *and* "this is either hurting or non-helpful to sales" then I can't really expect changes. (would anyone take special notice of a film that strictly avoided these stereotypes, and express their approval with ticket purchases?)

I guess at some point various advertising agencies could make a name for themselves among the more alert consumers, and somehow spin that into a public relations coup, selling themselves as the "non-sexist agency" or whatever. Maybe ensure that their ads had higher appeal among certain demographics, etc.

But this is marketing. If you're looking for soul, conscience, or social responsibility, it's not here. Boycotts and lawsuits are about all they will respond to. Complaints are piss in the ocean for them.
posted by ShutterBun at 4:57 AM on April 27, 2012


I guess at some point various advertising agencies could make a name for themselves among the more alert consumers, and somehow spin that into a public relations coup, selling themselves as the "non-sexist agency" or whatever.

Yeah, good luck with that.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:28 AM on April 27, 2012


Yes, the Hunger Games is totally awesome because the same Hollywood douchebags that market every single other movie out there, for some reason didn't apply the same cliche' pose to Katniss, because she's so awesome and we should all love her for all her awesome skills and not her looks and stuff, and... then... oops.

I haven't seen this image, but there's nothing remotely sexual about it. After seeing the film, it put me in mind of the fact that (SPOILER) circumstances have separated her from the guy she was interested in and she's now publicly believed to be in love with her game partner. It reminds me of this because it depicts someone looking regretfully over her shoulder at what she has had to leave behind, and I fail to see how this detracts from her ability to serve as a great female role model.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:41 PM on April 27, 2012


Yeah, good luck with that.

What am I missing? They're hoax ads that didn't run. What does that have to do with anything?
posted by cmoj at 5:35 PM on April 27, 2012


I haven't seen this image, but there's nothing remotely sexual about it.

It's just the same kinda pose, is all.
posted by ShutterBun at 6:00 PM on April 27, 2012


What am I missing? They're hoax ads that didn't run. What does that have to do with anything?

That is how unknown advertising agencies try to make a name for themselves.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:07 PM on April 27, 2012


Were the fake Puma ads made by an ad agency? One that was trying to market itself as making non-sexist ads?
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:38 PM on April 27, 2012


"It's just the same kinda pose, is all."

No, it's not. Is Katniss contorted unnaturally to display her tits and ass? No. But that's the complaint about the poses in the post.

But good to know that you can't be trusted to shoot minors, I guess.
posted by klangklangston at 7:44 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


From a comment in the article referring to a similar photo:

"Even Joss Whedon’s women don’t escape this entirely. It’s not intentionally provocative (Zoe is thankfully standing like a real person with a spine), but it’s still that pose."
posted by ShutterBun at 8:57 PM on April 27, 2012


Hey, at least this poster shows her in a kick-ass, non-sexist posture!
posted by IAmBroom at 6:46 AM on April 30, 2012


Just in case it hasn't been posted here yet, I offer you this. It makes the point pretty well, I think.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:51 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


This thread is a good example of why we shouldn't just say "this" or similar vague terms for a link (as I did above, and hope to now break the habit of doing).

Avengers
Avengers
Avengers
Avengers
Slightly different Avengers
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:03 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I, on the other hand, will happily continue to do that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:05 PM on May 9, 2012


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