X-Men: Apocalypse may have been a moderate hit on its opening weekend, but not everyone is pleased with the film. While the violence perpetrated by Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) against Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) makes sense in the context of the film, images of her being choked by the all powerful mutant have been pulled out of context and splattered all over billboards advertising for the film. Rose McGowan has made news lately for speaking out against the rampant sexism in Hollywood, and she spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about some issues raised by the Apocalypse marketing.
According to McGowan:
“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. The geniuses behind this, and I use that term lightly, need to take a long hard look at the mirror and see how they are contributing to society. Imagine if it were a black man being strangled by a white man, or a gay male being strangled by a hetero? The outcry would be enormous. So let’s right this wrong. 20th Century Fox, since you can’t manage to put any women directors on your slate for the next two years, how about you at least replace your ad?”
While some of her words are sure to inflame, especially the lack of intersectionality in her view (saying that women have it harder than black men and members of the LGBT community is problematic), she does raise a valid question. At which point does violence against women became a casual form of entertainment?
McGowan isn’t the only person to have an issue with the billboards. Jennifer McCleary-Sills, director of gender violence and rights for the International Center for Research on Women, also questions why Fox took this track with their marketing.
“I understand that some might not see it as an issue because it is a film about violence … with male and female characters who are warriors and fighting each other as equals. Here’s the thing: Where do we draw the line? They morph into humans and most of their interactions are similar to what humans would have while as mutants. … The fantasy life can involve violence against women, and that shows how normalized it is. The argument that it shouldn’t be offensive because they are mutants doesn’t hold any water, … and what really is the challenge here is the intentionality of it. You could have chosen any from the thousands of images, but you chose this one. Whose attention did you want to get and to what end?”
While the intention of Fox was certainly not to promote violence against women, these are relevant points to consider. While many will accuse McGowan of being an overly-sensitive SJW, these are important discussions to have. If anything, starting a conversation about how terribly normalized violence against women has become can only have a positive outcome.