Sunday, April 01, 2007

Naked Women, They Sell Everything

I have been meaning to complain about the above poster since I first saw it heralding me from outside of the Yale Rep. My vigor was re-fueled last night when walking by the poster and my friend asked me if I wasn't surprised that The New York Times refused to run the image as an ad for Yale's production of Lulu.

No, I am not surprised, in fact I totally agree with The New York Times' discomfort, although admittedly my objections may be more political than proprietary.

I find this poster offensive. Not only is the body headless, armless and for most purposes legless (ie really it has a vagina, the only important part of a female body), the body is deathly white and totally hairless. No landing strip here boys. Go right on in. I worry that there is this mentality among intellectual institutions, people, and theatrical organizations (apparently) that because we are conscious of the tradition of misogynist imagery we are accessing it's alright for us to mine it.

It is not alright. Lulu is a play about sex and abuse and prostitution and the degradation of women. The play is incredibly violent. Grotesquely violent. The poster image relates only in that it degrades women and is sexual yes, but the apple? The virginal, death-like, obectified body? Tangential at best. Really, its an easy, simple poster that took little to no talent or ingenuity to come up with and which employs a wonderful, rich history of sexist imagery to deliver a quick, sexy punch. Do better Yale Rep, I am sad to see you disappoint.


Ryan said...

- all of the rep's posters are in black and white. so, it's entirely unclear how "deathly and vriginal" the woman is.
- pubic hair, like it or lump it, is still considered vaguely obscene; hence, no body hair. allthough, point of fact, it appears to be a photograph of a classical sculpture. is the venus de milo a degrading object that's all about death (why such white marble?)?
- for a play about, as you said, "sex and abuse and prostitution and the degradation of women" what better symbol could there be than a focus on the sexual female anatomy
- as for the apple, it makes logical sense for a play that is about the shifting personality and tactics of a woman who uses her body to get to the top: like Eve.
everything you said is not related is also intimately related: the apple, symbol of feminine cunning sense since the Old Testament; the objectified body - you said it yourself, the play's about prostitution. and as for virginity, well, the madonna-whore dichotomy is a classic one.

if art and advertising cannot use symbols from the past, then you've basically hamstrung them for the next hundred years, because any image requires common meaning to be effective. and what can a poster do but catch your eye in "a quick sexy punch." that is, in fact, more or less the purpose of a poster.

I wish there was parity in representation of men and women as much as any woman. but when a play is ABOUT sexual use of women and women's use of sex... what what did you expect to be on the poster? you want to pick something to complain about, ask the yale rep why the picked the play.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this post... although I am pretty sure that the poster designers know next to nothing about the plays they are designing posters for. Most other plays have nothing, really, to do with their posters at the Rep.

Yale Rep said...

Have you even seen the play? It might help inform your opinion and understanding of the poster. Last chance! Performances tonight at 8 p.m. and tomorrow at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.


The Marketing Department at Yale Rep

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