Dear Rose McGowan — Let’s talk comic books, okay?
Seriously though has every billboard ad for a movie suddenly become some kind of Rorschach test?
“Hey what do you see when you look at that billboard?”
“I see two smurfs fighting. One looks like it’s got a skin condition…might be a girl…the other looks like some kind of blue toaster robot doily thing. Why, what do you see?”
“I see the promotion of violence against women”
Rose McGowan has caused a bit of controversy forcing FOX to remove an ad for X-Men Apocalypse and issue an apology, because she’s disgusted! She’s disgusted by the billboard pictured above, because as she sees it, it promotes violence against women.
If you don’t know who Rose McGowan is she was one of the leads in a movie called Death Proof. A movie that features multiple women being brutally murdered. She’s also a celebrity we forgot about whose name is back in the news. Ta-da!
Now back to the billboard. Ah yes, Mystique VS Apocalypse. The Amber Heard and Johnny Depp of comic book rivalries. Wait, what? Look FOX I get that if you’re in the commercial film industry you’re obviously more concerned with how the audience reacts, but that doesn’t mean you should apologize for causing someone to feel something negative without intended malice. Everyone these days is afraid of a lawsuit so they have to placate the crazies, but trust me — no rational human being saw this billboard as violence against women.
Except apparently the daughter of one of Rose McGowan’s friends.
“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?”
Violence against women? In an action/superhero movie where several of the main characters happen to be female heroes? Would it be less offensive to women if the main villain didn’t acknowledge the female superheroes because women don’t pose a threat to men?
Allow me a moment to nerd out here. A-hem, you see, Apocalypse is a fictional supervillain from the Marvel Universe who, as a young mutant, was found in the desert by nomads and raised to survive the harsh landscape teaching him that “only the strong” would survive. That shaped him his entire life and especially after being revived in the 19th century and influenced by Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest” theory. Since then he’s sought to eradicate the weak whether they’re human, mutant, superhuman, male OR female. He believes that to be his destiny SO you see he doesn’t really give two shits about whether or not mystique has a penis or vagina (she’s a shapeshifter so she could totes have both) he just believes her to be weak and just as equally weak as all the other X-Men both, male and female.
Wait does that…is that not…what his daughter was asking? Oh yeah and it’s a fucking poster for a movie. Chill. Also a 9 year old can ruminate on what is and isn’t violence against women but she still uses the term ‘monster man’ huh? Not to mention they’re both blue and scaly. Your friend didn’t manage to teach his daughter that women can also be monsters? If she can absorb all that at nine, why not also teach her about how the movie is essentially a battle to the death over ideology? That Mystique is the lead character in these films, and we root for her the same way we’d root for any hero when they rise up against seemingly impossible odds. That Apocalypse doesn’t care who or what you are, if you stand against him — he’ll try to kill you.
Plus she’s the lead in the movie facing the same challenges and dangers a male hero would. Isn’t that equality? If you can’t see why FOX would use this scene to draw in viewers let me try to clear it up one last time. It’s supposed to invoke some kind of emotion from the viewer considering she’s the hero the students look up to the most in the film. In this scene she is being taken down. It’s not a display of physical strength or power over her because he doesn't need to demonstrate that. It’s symbolic. He's literally taking what little hope their team has left and crushing it before their eyes. Does she live? Does she die? It’s marketing. The fact that she’s a woman is irrelevant.
There’s plenty of issues women have to face in Hollywood and a billboard for an X-Men movie shouldn’t be one of them. Yes, teach your kids about how horrible the world can be sometimes but also make sure they understand nuance. This way when they see something like this billboard all they have to think about is why they decided to make Apocalypse look like Tobias Fünke in a mech suit.