Check Out More Offenders:
One superhuman backpedal
Questions to Consider:
- Do media depictions of violence against women influence violence in real life?
- What positions of power do female characters typically hold?
- How do powerful female characters differ from powerful male characters? How are they similar?
What We Think:
The internet did not hold back when this billboard for X-Men: Apocalypse went viral, and for good reason. The billboard shows Apocalypse, the film’s villain, choking Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence. The image in and of itself is fairly disturbing, but the caption in the top right corner really cinches it: “Only the strong will survive”. Mystique is one of the film’s central leading characters and it’s pretty clear to those familiar with the X-Men series that she is anything but weak. As actor Rose McGowan criticized, “There is no context in the ad, just a woman getting strangled. The fact that no one flagged this is offensive and frankly, stupid.” This image helps normalize violence against women. Did no one at 21st Century Fox look at that image and think, “Actually, it’s kind of pointlessly violent and weakens our film’s heroine”?
Fortunately, due to the backlash from the public, Fox removed the billboard and apologized, explaining, “In our enthusiasm to show the villainy of the character Apocalypse, we didn’t immediately recognize the upsetting connotation of this image in print form.” Whether you believe them or think they did it for publicity, the silver lining in this story is that it is a clear example of how everyday people can influence the media. It’s great that Fox heard people’s concerns and responded. And it just goes to show that maybe media makers don’t always know best and that we can make positive change to our world around us.
— Colleen Sparks
Where We Saw It
Adweek. June 2016.