UPDATE 5:55 P.M. EST: Fox has now apologized for the billboard, saying in a statement:
“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. Once we realized how insensitive it was, we quickly took steps to remove those materials. We apologize for our actions and would never condone violence against women”
X-Men: Apocalypse, the most recent installment of Fox‘s superhero franchise, hit theaters last weekend and landed the No. 1 spot — but not everyone is a fan!
That’s because Rose McGowan has joined a growing number of people who are NOT happy about the poster showing Oscar Isaac‘s villainous Apocalypse choking Jennifer Lawrence‘s Mystique because they believe it depicts “casual violence against women”.
The Charmed actress opened up to THR about her disgust saying:
“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?”
McGowan went on to say:
“I’ll close with a text my friend sent, a conversation with his daughter. It follows: ├óΓé¼╦£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?”
While there hasn’t been word from Fox or J.Law yet, Director of Gender Violence and Rights for International Center for Research on Women Jennifer McCleary-Sills provided her point of view, saying:
“I do see it as problematic. I understand that some might not see it as an issue because it is a film about violence ├óΓé¼┬ª with male and female characters who are warriors and fighting each other as equals.”
McCleary-Sills also said:
“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. ├óΓé¼┬ª 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, ├óΓé¼┬ª 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?”
Devin Faraci, editor-in-chief of the blog Birth.Movie.Death, agreed with Miz McCleary-Sills saying:
“Images of violence against women are pretty common in the X-Men universe, which is a pretty violent universe. The problem is taking this one image out of context and having it be an image that is not fantastical in nature. Setting aside that Apocalypse and Mystique look like Smurfs, it’s just an image of a big guy choking out a smaller woman. I have wracked my brains trying to come up with an example of a marketing image like this featuring two men, and I’ve come up empty.”
We certainly understand what the critics are saying and why people are so offended — especially non-fans seeing the image out of context.
On the other hand, in context, Mystique has proven to be one of the strongest characters in the franchise, maybe THE strongest. And showing her at the mercy of the new villain does serve to show how menacing Apocalypse is.
It’s possible the people who chose the image for the billboard never even considered the gender of the characters — and isn’t that a good thing?
What do YOU think??