Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Something for the boys?

I fully admit that I have at best a layperson's familiarity with marketing and the theories behind what is effective in that arena. I have only my reactions to use as a gauge of efficacy, and I suspect I am far too analytical to fall into any target demographic.

With that out of the way…

I pass by the magazine rack in one store or another with some regularity. I like to think I am reasonably observant about the sort of photos that typically adorn the covers of the so-called lads mags. There's a scantily clad (egad, I really must find a new phrase for that)… There's a model or actress or celebrity of some sort in a state of undress that would be inappropriate for any sort of formal gathering. The purpose of the suggestive pose, I presume, is to inspire sexual desire in the heterosexual males observing the cover, thus making them inclined to purchase the magazine. It's undoubtedly not that calculating, but ultimately that's the motivation on the part of the editors who select the shot for the cover. It needs to be alluring enough to draw one's attention away from all the other magazines competing for the browser's eye (all the other models/actresses/celebrities in states of undress that month).

I'm not looking to debate whether this practice is sexist (of course it is). This is merely an exploration of whether they meet their intended goal.

So a few weeks ago I see the latest GQ on the stands and it features a brunette with her hair partially obscuring her face, with no discernible expression on her face, dressed in a bikini where the color doesn't stand out well against her skin tone, with a sheer camisole over her shoulders that she is lifting up with her arms in the same way a five-year old lifts up her dress when nervous.

While it did get my attention, the pose inspired in me questions about what the editors were going for. There seemed to be better shots of her in the pictorial inside the magazine (which one should have no difficulty finding online--why bother copyrighting anything?), but again, I am no expert in this field. Perhaps I don't have latent pedophilia and thus it isn't intended for me.

Beyond that, I couldn't even tell who the woman was. The woman in little (or no) clothing on the cover is always promoting something (a movie, a TV show, herself, etc.) and it seems like being identifiable is of relative importance with that pursuit.

Upon closer inspection (you can see the cover here), I noticed the text in the lower corner revealed her to be Jessica Biel, Esquire's "Sexiest Woman Alive" for 2005 (lucky for her that other magazine bestowed her that title before this shot was unleashed on the world). Looking again at the obscured face I finally recognized her.

It didn't seem like it should have required that much effort. I suppose the editors succeeded in drawing the effort. Bravo, GQ. No wonder I never read your magazine.

She was featured to promote her inclusion in the upcoming "film" I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. I don't know who her agent is, but he really isn't helping her in her expressed desire to be taken seriously as an actress. (If the movie is only half as awful as it appears to be from the trailer it may sneak above single digits in its Rotten Tomatoes rating.)

Angelina Jolie appeared on the cover of Esquire with nothing but a sheet in front of her, but she actually looked like an adult female in the shot. There is already talk of her getting another Oscar nomination. Certainly it could just be Ms. Jolie is more talented as an actress than is Ms. Biel, but one cannot help but wonder if another aspect of Angelina's talent stems from knowing how to pose when a camera is pointed at her (she does have a lot of practice in that area), and that influences how she is perceived by those who cast movies.

But as I noted up front, I have no expertise in how these things work. There is a reason why I am not publishing a glossy magazine.

There is also a reason I'm not buying those glossy magazines.

(And I'm certainly not timely in writing about these things.)

1 comment:

  1. I didn't really get a pedophilia vibe for the shot. I got they were going for seduction. At least that's what I've come to understand the empty-headed expressionless look is supposed to convey. She's pushing her chest out as oppose to the hips out and head and chest back which is more what I would identify as the 'little girl raising her dress' thing. Yeah, I kind of get they are going for her undressing for the camera thing, but obviously the context isn't there (like if say she were opening her bikini top in the same pose; the wrap doesn't work the same).

    Anyway, I wanted to comment because I thought it was funny you didn't recognize her. Not that I would really or anyone should, but Biel is kind of a funny sad paradox for me. She's good looking, has nominal acting ability, plenty of high progfile exposure (even before the clothes start coming off) and everything you'd think would be required to be successful, but it just doesn't seem to take.

    The sex symbol thing is something it seems she's pursued in her career because no one was paying much attention to her with her clothes on. Had to break that Party of Five thing and get more adult. Well, irony is, she seemingly can't get naked enough for anyone to care.

    Yeah, there are fan boys, but as noted, you didn't recognize her. I only would because her career is kind of running joke I have with myself.

    Ryan Reynolds is the male equivalent for me. Again, good looking, talented, plenty of oppertunity to get the hit...and he just repeatedly falls falt.

    This is probably just funny to me, but I was busting up when I saw the trailor for Blade 3. They got both of these under-achievers in one pic. It was like one last desperate hope that someone, anyone, would finally recognize the potential. Nope.

    Anyway, enjoyed the post because I've always had a little laugh at Biel's inability to get any recognition, and here you are not recognizing her. That's good for me at least...


So, what do you think?