Mel Evans

Why do movie posters feature so many 'headless women'?
Noticing a trend here? (picture: Getty)

While conversation still swirls around Hollywood and the inequality that lies within, a very smart woman has put together a very, very long list of movie posters that feature ‘headless women’.

And when you notice the amount and the nature, it’s really quite confronting.

We’re not talking torsos getting around without a noggin, but posters for various movies of all genres – including rom coms – that have cut the heads off the women with the end of the frame or by replacing them with inanimate objects – like razors and skeletal versions.

It’s not a new concept, however, after the Headless Women of Hollywood blog was founded in 2016 and brought to light all the posters – many with women as the central character – that couldn’t fathom adding a woman’s face in the mix.

It’s founder stand up comedian Marcia Belsky wrote at the time: ‘Headless Women project seeks to bring attention to the still standard practice of fragmenting, fetishizing and dehumanizing the images of women we see in film, TV, book covers, advertising, and more.’

Now she has brought the issue back to the pop culture vernacular and sent it viral once more – because clearly nothing has changed – as she posted her favourite picks for our own viewing pleasure this week.

Yes, I know the Graduate is a classic cover. Even if Bancroft had already won an Oscar & Hoffman was relatively unknown ?

This is not about how “offensive” the posters are. It’s about the trope.

Also, get the fuck away from her, Baio.

— Marcia Belsky (@MarciaBelsky) March 12, 2018

In putting together the blog, it seemed simple: highlight all the times women were watered down to only a set of boobs, butts and legs all in the marketing tool of selling movies.

Belsky said when creating the campaign: ‘By decapitating the woman, or fragmenting her body into decontextualized sexual parts, she becomes an unquestionably passive object to the male gaze.

‘The question of her consent is removed completely alongside her head, and her purpose becomes solely that of being looked at by men obediently. Her value is that only of her sexual appeal to men, and not of her personhood.’

And followers were more than eager to share the cause and jump aboard – often sharing their own experiences of sexism in this realm, as one said: ‘I once had a group of guys all agree that I was hot from the neck down, this reminded me of that.’

While many others just confirmed her cause is more than timely with sexist comments of their own, asking if Belsky ‘hated all men’ it seemed her mission to set tongues wagging about the marketing ploys of fricken’ movie posters, was back in the forefront of minds.

Which is all too timely right now.

More: Hollywood

It comes as the latest conversation in the talk of Time’s Up and Me Too involves inclusion riders, with male movie makers asking for a balanced crew of women and minorities on set.

Inclusion riders came to the public attention after Frances McDormand closed her Oscar acceptance speech with the phrase, ‘two words – inclusion rider’. The clause can be added to any contract to ensure that the project provides for gender and racial diversity.

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