The latest in eroticised violence in advertising
There’s no shortage of material documenting the mind numbing levels of violence against women and girls in the world. This blog is in many ways a testament to that, documenting the treatment of women and girls in the 21st century, lest we forget the scale of human rights violations against them.
But some corporations don’t seem particularly troubled by this reality. In fact, they’ve appropriated violence against women as a hot new source of creative advertising possibilities. We’ve seen a growth in eroticised violence in advertising and celebrity fashion and promotional shoots, which I’ve written about here before in a piece called ‘You look so good in blood’.
U.S blogger Shelby Knox has written this week about the latest manifestation of this trend, this time by Gucci. She’s given me permission to reprint her blog here. Most of my readers probably can’t afford to buy Gucci anyway, but for those who can, please….don’t.
Gucci Ads: Dead women are in for Autumn
Here we go again with the high fashion obsession with beautiful, dead women. Gucci’s fall ad campaign was shot in the Marrakech desert but the photos look like something from an episode of CSI.
Hell, if I wore an ostrich motorcycle jacket and velvet pants into the middle of the Moroccan desert, and brought along a $2400 bag instead of a canteen, I’d probably drop dead too. But “dead in the dirt” is creepy and unsettling, no matter how high the heels. In this photo, Raquel Zimmerman and Joan Smalls lie prone and limp while a man circles them like a vulture, taking in the grotesque view.
Of course, you can’t do a beautiful corpse ad campaign without at least one picture that expressly hints at violence and rape. In this shot, Nikola Jovanovic is perched upon his golden throne leering down at Raquel Zimmerman, whose skirt is hiked up to her thigh, legs askew. His foot positioned strategically over her throat makes it disgustingly clear he can do, perhaps already has done, whatever he likes to the motionless model.
Gucci certainly isn’t the first to use female dead bodies in their ads. Beautiful corpses are an extension of the almost universal objectification of women in advertising combined with the trope that says helpless, silent women are the best kind. Rendering women dead, or at least disturbingly unconscious, strips them of their agency and sexualizes violence against them. Gucci’s glorification of violence normalizes something that’s already far too prevalent – in the United States, 3 women per day are murdered by their intimate partners. Something tells me those crime scenes are decidedly less picture perfect.