Billboards advertising X-Men: Apocalypse are raising hackles because they depict a scene in the superhero movie in which the villain, Apocalypse, played by Oscar Isaac, chokes the character Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence. "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," actress Rose McGowan tells the Hollywood Reporter, though the billboard does also include the name of the movie, its release date, and the tagline, "Only the strong will survive." (THR has a picture of it.) "Imagine if it were a black man being strangled by a white man, or a gay male being strangled by a hetero?" McGowan continues. "The outcry would be enormous." She's not the only one upset:
- New York blog EV Grieve posted a picture last month of one of the X-Men subway ads, upon which someone had posted the words, "This violence in my kid's face is not OK."
- "I recently passed two billboards for the new X-Men: Apocalypse movie along 880-N, and IT WAS NOT OKAY," reads a Facebook post from Kelly Morgen that McGowan shared. "I felt angry, uncomfortable, and shocked to see a frightened woman being choked by a man."
- "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," movie blogger Devin Faraci tells THR. "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."
- Sample of the unhappiness on Twitter: "Choosing the scene where Apocalypse throttles Mystique to plaster over promo posters was unecessary, insensitive & imho a dumb plot reveal," writes @chriscrowing.
- Sample of the rebuttals on Twitter: "What kind of bizarre broken mind do you have to have to think Apocalypse and Mystique represent 'men' and 'women' as concepts," writes @TheSickDork.
- But that argument doesn't' hold any water, women's rights activist Jennifer McCleary-Sills tells THR. "Where do we draw the line?" she says. The characters are mutants, sure, but "they morph into humans and most of their interactions are similar to what humans would have while as mutants. … The fantasy life can involve violence against women, and that shows how normalized it is."
- "To most this poster might not seem like a problem but that is the problem," writes Sabina Ibarra at Legion of Leia. "[It] goes to show how much as a society we’ve been conditioned by advertising to be unconsciously misogynistic."
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