Monday, April 14, 2008

Obscenity and Violence in Sexualized Media

Celebrity Paris Hilton
all tied up




















Jimmy Choo
advertisement for shoes


















Dolce & Gabbana
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Dolce & Gabbana
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Dolce & Gabbana
advertisement for a purse














America's Next Top Model
Cycle 8















When looking for examples of obscenity and violence in the media I was overwhelmed with examples, most of which were in the form of advertisements for designer fashions. Several of the examples I chose to use are from designer Dolce & Gabbana who thrives on creating a look that is “all about sexiness, a glorious type of sluttishness,” (Mixing Business and Pleasure, http://shopping.guardian.co.uk/clothes/story/0,,1418613,00.html). Dolce & Gabbana’s image #3 is that of a man forcefully holding down a woman while three other men stand watch. This image can be said to be violent in that it shows a man using force against a woman as the other men stand by waiting to take their turn. According to Robert Jensen and Gail Dines in their article
Pornography in a Pornographic Culture: Eroticizing Domination and Subordination, this image shows violence against a women which in case causes the degradation of this women. They are of the belief that images such as these are glamorized (the high fashion industry in this case) and it causes more men to act sexually dominant and more women to be tolerant of this violence which increases the degradation of women in our society. On the other hand Nina Hartley (In the Flesh: A Porn Star’s Journey) and Veronica Monet (What is Feminist Porn?) believe that images like this can empower women to act out their fantasies or at least get a chance to see their fantasies acted out for them.

Dolce & Gabbana images #4 and #5 can also be said to glamorize violence for the sake of high fashion. Image #4 shows a man lying dead from the gun shots fired from the hero whom the beautiful naked female is sexually clinging to. This image reinforces the ideology that men are powerful and take action and women are sexy and stand by their sides. Image #5 shows two beautiful women, one ready to murder the other while the victim gracefully and gently holds the arm of her enemy. Although this image shows violence in the act of murder, it also says that women are not as violent and dominant as men are and that they love each other which is the tiresome fantasy of the girl on girl action.

Image #2 is an advertisement for Jimmy Choo shoes and it again glamorizes violence for the sake of selling fashion. The sexy women in the image lays slumped in the trunk of a car while a dominating male figure digs her grave in the middle of a remote desert. I personally can’t see how Hartley or Monet could defend that this is supporting women’s desires or fantasies of being murdered and I have to agree with Jensen and Dines on this one that the image depicts the power and dominance of the male over the female.

Image #1 is that of celebrity Paris Hilton. Not only is Hilton extremely wealthy but she is seen as extremely sexy too. These two things give her too much power for her male audience and she is shown here tied up and powerless which gives male viewers more power in their sexual fantasies about her. It is images like this that bring to question how much power does sex, fame, and fortune really give a person? Does the power a female holds have to be taken away from her (by tying her up, verbally or physically abusing her, etc.) in order to make her a seem even more desirable because she is now more vulnerable?

The fashion industry trains their participants to glamorize violence right from the beginning. Image #6 is that of a photo shoot from cycle 8 of the television show America’s Next Top Model. This photo shoot was trying to show beauty in the form of death and most of the images were taken to look like a violent death. Murder, drugs, suicide, they were all glamorized and sexualized and these aspiring models were trained to believe that these are important elements of the fashion industry.

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