Actress Rose McGowan (Charmed, Chosen) has been calling attention to an X-Men: Apocalypse billboard that features Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique being choked by the film’s villain Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac). In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, McGowan states the following:
There is a major problem when the men and women at 20th Century Fox think casual violence against women is the way to market a film. There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid.
There was, on Twitter, an immediate backlash to the article by the anti-feminist crowd. Some note that it’s a fictional scene with a movie, while others began attacking McGowan for her skimpy outfit at MTV music awards in the 1990’s. You can look at some of the actual responses if you click on the tweet below.
– Hollywood Reporter (@THR) June 2, 2016
There is a certain logic to the response. After all, the scene does exist in the film, and she’s a blue superhero. The movie is about a war and fighting, so what’s the problem? However, McGowan isn’t the only one concerned about the image. The article quotes several other people: Jennifer McCleary-Sills, director of gender violence and rights for the International Center for Research on Women, Devin Faraci, the editor-in-chief the film blog Birth Movies Death, and even an X-men expert and enthusiast, Jay Edidin, (podcast Jay & Miles X-Plain the X-Men). Each of these people weigh in on the billboard as being problematic.
The issue is not that the image exists at all. If one chooses to go see this PG-13 movie (a discussion for some other article) then it’s fair to say that a level of violence is expected. However, seeing a billboard is not a choice. It’s in your face – and your kid’s face – whether you like it or not. Faraci makes the excellent point that seeing the image “out of context” makes it more disturbing.
Setting aside that Apocalypse and Mystique look like Smurfs, it’s just an image of a big guy choking out a smaller woman. I have wracked my brains trying to come up with an example of a marketing image like this featuring two men, and I’ve come up empty.
There’s a lot of visually stunning things that happen in the film. In general, Edidin states the poster isn’t even a fair representation of the movie overall. That’s really the crux of why this X-Men: Apocalypse billboard is being slammed. McCleary-Sills discusses how violence against women is still somehow considered, “sexy” and hits 20 Century Fox on sending the message that violence against women is somehow cool.
You could have chosen any from the thousands of images, but you chose this one.
Personally, I have to agree. It’s one thing to have the scene in a film that people plunk down money to go see. It’s another to flash the image to the general public.