In case you missed it, a controversial billboard of a superhero movie I’m not going to see was put up, and some women were upset about it. Here it is:

Besides it being another tragic depiction of blue-on-blue violence (when will it stop?), no big deal, right? Actress Rose McGowan didn’t think so. To quote her facebook, she said “[f]uck [that] shit.” The point is, comic book fans were not here for any of that nonsense. Many, including myself at first, argued that superhero movies show superheroes, male and female, fighting bad guys. If Batman can get his back broken in half in The Dark Knight Rises, why can’t Mystique get choked out on a billboard. Thoughts on the matter:

But this wasn’t a case of non-comic book fans sticking their noses in what they don’t understand. The issue has been raised within the comic book community as well. Remember this?

If you’ve never read Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke, I won’t spoil anything for you, but go read it. The Killing Joke, historically both revered and reviled for its brutality, has been criticized for its treatment of Batgirl, deemed “torture porn” by its most adamant opponents. So, we see that the criticism cannot be dismissed as “Rose McGowan just doesn’t appreciate comic books.” We move, then, to our next exhibit. Let’s look at all the other billboards:

Very odd, indeed. I was looking to find depictions of the other heroes getting beat up or choked out, but this is all that turned up for me. This may not be all the billboards, but you get a pretty good idea from these that most of the billboards depict the X-men showing off their powers or just posing and looking cool. So, then we return to the billboard of woman getting choked, and suddenly, things start to look very out of place.

Later, Rose McGowan clarified her position in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter:

“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 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?
“I’ll close with a text my friend sent, a conversation with his daughter. It follows: ‘My daughter and I were just having a deep discussion on the brutality of that hideous X-Men poster yesterday. Her words: ‘Dad, why is that monster man committing violence against a woman?’ This from a 9-year-old. If she can see it, why can’t Fox?”

Check that out:

“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.

That is a brilliant point. There really is no context to the woman being strangled when juxtaposed to all the other billboards. Proponents perhaps would counter that there is context, as the billboard depicts something that happens in the movie. But, none of the others do this. All the other billboards do not appear to be depicting any scene that specifically occurs in the movie, but rather broadly display each of the X-Men doing what X-men do. So why then, the question must be asked, was this specific scene chosen for the billboard? It’s not broadly depicting any powers either of the two characters possess.

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.

Honestly, I hate when people go here. They bolster their convictions about right and wrong based on the public response something gets. I’ll say this: the peanut gallery is notoriously fickle, easily influenced with a very strong desire to be a part of “the crowd.” You hardly see anyone going out on a limb to speak out about something they feel is wrong if there’s no certainty that others are actually going to care. And the scary part is often that you’re never really sure what people are going to latch onto next, especially if the viewpoint is at all original. This spring has seen some obvious media storms, like Prince and Ali dying, and some surprising ones, like everybody suddenly becoming an expert on gorilla behavior and Spongebob the Caveman memes.

“I’ll close with a text my friend sent, a conversation with his daughter. It follows: ‘My daughter and I were just having a deep discussion on the brutality of that hideous X-Men poster yesterday. Her words: ‘Dad, why is that monster man committing violence against a woman?’ This from a 9-year-old. If she can see it, why can’t Fox?”

Look, we’re not here to scrutinize a nine-year-old’s odd selection of words. We’re not here to do that. So even if it looks like the textbook “out of the mouths of babes” approach to backing up exactly what you’re arguing, we’re not going there. I was just having a conversation with my four-year-old nephew the other day, and he said, “oh yeah, man, quote yourself and say it’s me, I won’t sue.” But, whatever. The point is, as a self-proclaimed well-reasoned and prudent person, and as the self-appointed Judge of the Internets, whatever the peanut gallery thinks is worthy of crying over ranks extremely low in my analysis. My personal opinion about the billboard factors in not at all.

For the above reasons, Rose McGowan has a point. Fox was right to take the billboard down. Judgment is hereby AFFIRMED.

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