In recent readings. I've seen some people declare their blogs to be places where they just spew out personal thoughts as they happen, without editing, the implication being that criticism of what they say is pointless and overkill.
Well, why not use that for myself? If you disagree, I'm just sharing my thoughts!
Meh. I typed the above mostly because I was intending to foreword this post with a notice that it may meander a bit. I'm searching for something, not sure if I've found it yet. But rather than apologize if this one doesn't actually go anywhere, I figured I could JUSTIFY it, and make it all criticism-free! (He said, trying to avoid biting his cheek-planted tongue.)
A few years ago, I was rummaging through some stack of old magazines somewhere, I forget where. Secondhand store? Library castoffs? Whatever it was, I happened across an article about some feminist-oriented media watchdog group. The magazine was dated somewhere in the late 80s or early 90s, and the article was about this group and the things they were criticizing, and what caught my eye was their critique of ads for Bain De Soleil (I think that's how it's spelled, maybe) tanning lotion.
I vaguely remember the TV ads, with a sexy tanned woman in a black bikini luxuriating at some pool while a woman's voice sings "Bain De Soleil, for the San Tropez tan..." What I didn't know was that there were print ads for this stuff, too, I'm guessing they appeared in women's fashion magazines. And the watchdog group was against these print ads.
Here's what the ads depicted, and the group's reactions, as best as I can dredge up from memory. (Wish I had the article, but if I actually acquired the magazine, it's probably long since lost/thrown away.)
The first ad was of a woman very much like the one shown in the TV ads, a tube-top bikini, stylish and glamourous, reclining by the side of a pool. Bright sunlight, deep blue sky. The picture is taken from the side, showing her nearly lying down on the concrete or tile, knees bent a little, resting on her elbows, her back arched a bit, her head tilted back, eyes closed, as if she's drinking in the sun's rays. Very sexy.
The watchdog group's statement called this a depiction of a lifeless, dead woman. Their analysis of the woman's posture was that the woman was supposed to be unconscious or dead, a helpless victim to whatever person wished to assault her.
There was another ad shown, from a later campaign. The overtly sophisticated sexy model was replaced, this time with a similar model in the same bandeau swimwear, but one with a more active posture and expression. (Or it might've been the same model after all, I dunno.) My guess is that they were aiming for a more general, family-appeal look. Now the woman was not on her back, but on her side, facing the camera, smiling pleasantly. And also in the picture, also smiling at the camera, was a young girl of maybe 6 or 7, decked out in the same style of bikini, also fairly tan.
The watchdog group's statement was every bit as harsh as before: now the ad depicted a woman offering up her daughter for the viewer's sexual use.
Oh....kay. So first they're marketing tanning lotion to necrophiles, then to pedophiles. So says this group.
That was as far as the article went (I don't remember seeing any third ad campaign featuring dead 6 year olds or something).
Now, here's what goes through my head first when presented with this: is that really how it works? The ad agency is showing a woman that some might interpret to be dead in order to appeal to people and make them want to get tanned and buy lotion? Or presenting a young girl in a bikini is going to inflame the passions of pedophiles, who I suppose must have lots of disposable income?
The next thought that comes up is: now, wait, who's going to think that's a dead woman, anyway? There's no ad copy going, "yup, once they've reached that San Tropez tan stage, that's the best time to throttle them to death." If it's just a woman laying down limp and still, well, that describes a lot of real live sunbathers I've seen in my life. And there's no sign in the other pic reading "juvenile hooker for rent". To get these messages, you kind of have to be reading meanings and symbols into them that probably aren't intentional, if they even exist in the first place.
And after that, I have to think: and who is that going to appeal to, anyway? Unless you actually are a pedophile, are you really going to get all aroused by a 7-year old in a bikini? If you see a picture of a reclining woman and think she looks dead, is that going to be sexy for you unless you actually are a necrophile?
Does the fact that a pedophile could get turned on by the image of a young girl in a bikini mean that we should never show the image of a young girl in a bikini? Should we forbid girls of certain ages to wear swimwear that reveals X percent skin because it might excite a pervert? Should women always be depicted in action, so as to avoid any scene that might have some necrophile fantasizing about running a hand over room-temperature flesh?
If so... why?
Setting that aside for the moment, my thoughts turn to the watchdog group, and what kind of mentality they must have to be looking at things like this and seeing the most depraved interpretations in every last thing that catches their eye.
And then I think...
What good is this going to do, anyway? Let's suppose for the moment that they're right about these ads. And the ads get changed or removed.
How does this improve society? What harm were the ads causing anyway? Do they think the ads would generate an increase in pedophiliac or necrophiliac tendencies? Is someone going to look at them and, out of the blue, think, "hey, that's hot, think I'll go rob graves and hang around the schoolyards in a white van now"?
Or perhaps they think that the people who do have these desires will be "worked up" by the ads to the point of committing some crime? Maybe they think that taking that kind of ad away will somehow calm perverts down?
A few posts back, I mentioned Stephanie Brown's death. In response, "Lexi" said this:
"Oh, certainly there are people who would find the sexualized brutal murder of Stephanie Brown hot.
Statutory rapists (she was only 16).
Snuff film enthusiasts.
You know, sexual criminals."
Anonymous, who appears to be BrokenPorcelainDoll, who wrote one of the first "not taking your sexy away" posts I read, also offered this:
"If I'm taking you correctly, then that "nymphet" manga- the one about the preteen girl who tries to have sex with her teacher- is all well and good? What about snuff? Is sexualising rape and murder okay?"
Somewhere in the Bible, Jesus says:
"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
Interesting quote, that. A lot of times when you see it referenced, the last "in his heart" has been dropped, so the message presented is, "If you think about adultery, you are actually committing adultery." But, the actual quote straight from the Bible keeps things in the realm of thought, a temptation to be resisted.
Lexi's quote, as I pointed out in the comments section where it appears, presumes that the ones who look upon Stephanie Brown's corpse with lust are by default criminals, that is, they have committed real crimes.
Anonymous/Bunny/BPD implies, in her quote, that presenting a work about a sexually precocious girl, or a work that links sex and death, is wrong. No crime is actually committed, but images and thoughts are presented that deal with things that might very well be crimes if they were real.
The battleground would seem to be over other people's thoughts. Because think about it: When the scene of Stephanie Brown lying on the floor, post-torture, is discussed, I've seen it mentioned that she's been drawn in a "sexy" pose. I'm not sure how many ways there are to lay on the ground that absolutely could not EVER be described as "sexy" in SOME way, but okay, let's say it is somehow "sexy". When YOU look at the scene, do you think it is sexy, do you find it "hot"? No? Do you assume that someone else finds it sexy? How do you know someone else thinks it's sexy? And if someone else does find it sexy, what does that matter to you?
I just read a post about the anime-style DC superheroines figures. The writer gripes about the sexualization of the characters, and later, replying to a comment, says it "represents a larger problem".
What problem is that, exactly? That someone might get a little too frisky, alone in their room, with some statue?
Why are so many people so concerned about what goes on in the innermost reaches of other people's heads?
What do people really think will happen?
Which is more correct: What Jesus actually said, or what a lot of people think he said? Is a fantasy every bit as criminal and evil as a real action?
Will it be enough that less actual crime and nastiness occurs in real life, or must thoughts be regulated, filtered, and sorted into appropriate categories to appease people disturbed by what gives other people some sort of thrill? Will everything be judged by a panel of experts in order to ensure that no offense is ever given and no bad thoughts are inspired?
Who will be first to join the forces of the Thought Police?