Saturday, 26 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #136: Sex Doesn't Always Sell

Comic-Con's going full bore in San Diego, making that sunny city geek capital of the world, and where there are geeks there are movie studios shilling their products, because where there are geeks there is also money, money, money.

Geeks hearts are all aflutter over panels featuring the makers and stars of the upcoming Watchmen and Spirit movies, as well as props, vehicles, and other promotional materials to get that all important "buzz" going.

But some ad campaigns are aiming for something other than the heart.

Case in point: The new poster for the upcoming 2010 release RED SONJA starring producer Robert Rodriguez's mistress muse Rose McGowan.
Subtle, isn't it?

I mean it has it all the marketing people would think it should have in a movie poster. A pretty face, ample cleavage, and the non-too subtle allusion to fellatio by having the titular (in more ways than one) heroine suggestively licking blood off a rigid phallic blade, like the money shot in ancient Viking porn.

I never thought I'd say it, but they managed to make a film about a woman running amok in a chain mail bikini look trashy.

But that's not all, in fact, it's really just a skin deep look at the issue. (pardon the pun)

Take your mind of whats in the poster, if you can. Peel your desperately lonely eyes away from Ms. McGowan's photoshopped cleavage and tongue, and take a moment to think about what's not in the poster.

Did you do it?

No? Still can't stop thinking about the cleavage?

Then think about the poster's model, and remember what's been there before:
Sorry, didn't want to be so cruel, but sometimes you have to be nasty to get the job done.

Now that I have your attention back, let me tell you what's missing from that poster:


I know I might be expecting too much of a teaser for a film that probably doesn't even have a finished script yet, but there are elements of any sort of Red Sonja adventure that could be included. Implying exotic locations, magic, mystery, action, then sex-appeal, is essential because that states that film will actually have an entertaining story, rather than be just an expensive game of cos-play.

All we have in this teaser is a way for wags to say how an actress with questionable box-office appeal got the coveted starring role in a big budget fantasy adventure.

The message this poster conveys is one of laziness, an attitude of "we got a chick in a chain mail bikini, who needs a story." That may not be the case when the final cut is made, but that's what this poster says.

From the laziness of using sex to sell something we got to the desperation of using sex to sell something.

Going by the hype dished out by the CW network and the tabloid machine you'd think GOSSIP GIRL, a show about amoral, oversexed rich kids was the greatest thing since nachos met salsa. Yet its audience consists of... well, CW publicity staff and some tabloid folks. In a desperate attempt to save the show from the cancellation it deserves, it brought out the sex:
Note, I didn't say the ads were sexy. They're not. Sexy requires a certain subtlety, a certain grace and elegance. This reeks of desperation, like some talentless starlet trying to boost their career by leaking a videotape of them having sex with a washed up reality TV reject.

The Gossip Girl people know they have nothing, no likable characters, no entertaining stories, and no real charm, so they ramp up the sex, and toss in some blurbs from people complaining about the show's prurience and tastelessness. The point: to attract the folks in dirty raincoats who will watch anything that offers the promise, even false, of a glimpse of booby, and to attract folks who only watch stuff some self-proclaimed "parental TV watchdog group" has complained about, because, like their emo-haircut, it makes them feel like a rebel.

Of course, these tactics never work, because there is a wisdom in crowds, and while folks may not be able to articulate it, they can smell laziness and desperation a mile away.


  1. I think the internet is largely responsible for the trenchcoat brigade no longer being interested in this kind of thing.

    We don't have to watch an hour and a half of a bad movie for 3 seconds of Sharon Stone's breasts. There are plenty of girls who are much nicer and much more interesting who are willing to show far more for as long as we want.

    Stars who can show real sex appeal in a timeless, classy way, rise above this drek and are what hollywood is going to have to rediscover.

    Class. Its what men really want.

  2. I just think it's hilarious that, as the read this post, the Furious D/Sexy Party poster is showing up in the top right corner. Sex sells, indeed.

  3. When I do it, it's not out of laziness or desperation.

    It's actually out of irony.