Depressing And Naked
Thursday, 5 April 2012
Yes yes, half of you are here just because the post has “naked” in the title. You probably have no idea who I am, never played poker, never watched BBC Four, never read beyond page 15 of The Observer. Well, good news: there’ll be some nakedness in a minute. Bad news: most of it’s covered up. Not so much as a nipple. Good news: I’ve heard that if you keep looking around this new internet thing, you’ll find some people who’ve got NOTHING ON AT ALL.
Anyway. The cover of this month’s Vanity Fair magazine has filled me with depression. Here it is:
I mean, really? Really? In 2012? Four actresses in Vanity Fair HAVE to be naked under bedsheets? I feel like I’ve been seeing this picture in Vanity Fair for the last twenty years.
Why are they naked in bed together? It’s not sexy. It couldn’t be sexy; Vanity Fair has to be stocked in newsagents (or their American equivalent) across that entire conservative country. You couldn’t have this picture with any suggestion that the women have been caught unawares in the middle of (or on the verge of, or relaxing after) some massive great lesbian romp. If it looked like that, it might be rather magnificent. But not a chance; too controversial. It has to be utterly chaste. I suppose the one on the far right is doing a bit of a sexy face, but Julianna Margulies looks like she’s thinking about a grocery list. And that one from Downton Abbey, in the front, has the physical pose and rueful expression of someone who’s just tripped over the bath mat.
If not sexy, then why naked? Because they’re just women, I guess. Whatever their achievements in the acting world or anywhere else, they’re just bodies. Just totty. Just things to be looked at. No point having them all dressed in clothes and doing something interesting like this one of Robert Pattinson -
or even this one of the Hollywood boys hanging out:
Nah: for the ladies, it’s kit off and grinning. That’ll do.
What depresses me most is that Julianna Margulies’s character in The Good Wife (the TV show she’s being “celebrated” for here) is so interesting. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a show before where the leading woman is such a dominant protagonist but the theme isn’t specifically female (so a thriller or courtroom drama series rather than, you know, Sex And The City). This is a legal drama where she’s half of a couple but the husband doesn’t even appear in every episode. There’s an ensemble cast but Margulies is massively in the foreground, dominating the screen time, and is a genuinely real and original character: brave but prim, careerist but maternal, juggling her own issues of marital fidelity against professional concerns about murder, fraud or company corruption.
That series is going in such a good direction, in terms of women’s roles on television - you can see how this could run for twenty years, and Margulies would be as strong in it at 65 as she is at 45 - but this cover drags it all back down again, back into the world where they just look pretty, get their kit off, and are mopped quietly away as the wrinkles kick in.
Why did none of these women stand up at the photoshoot and say, “Do you know what - no thanks. I don’t really want to do it naked. Can’t see the point. Boring idea. Hackneyed. Think of something more interesting. Or do this but without me, because my career’s going fine and that’s the reason you’re putting me on the cover, and I don’t need to be poking my leg coquettishly round an eiderdown to try and get attention.”
I know, I know: they look nice and everything.
But it just made me sad.