#stillshot features a frame from the moving pictures that grace our screens, and occasionally their promotional campaigns. We want to spark discussion on the visual art of film, and the world it negotiates often within a single still. Also, ‘cause there’s some well purdy viz-art shots to be dissected out there.
My first reaction to this photograph is goddess – which is obviously Vanity Fair’s marketing motif. Some sort of voluptuous and exotic, nude-bathing, neo-Classical and Pre-Raphaelite hotchpotch with a parrot on the side idea of a goddess, courtesy of photographer Patrick Demarchelier. But I actually mean it in a more, well, just her, sort of way.
J-Law (yes, I did just call her that. We PTL kids are down with the press-cred lingo, as of late, it seems). My love for Jennifer Lawrence is more like a dandelion weed than a rose: anything or anybody that tries to uproot it just makes it spread, and cultivates the inexplicable urge for weeing – whether from excitement or chemical laxatives, who can say (I’m exaggerating slightly, ladies and gents. I believe dandelion as laxative may be a fishwives’ tale).
I digress. Goddess. See the history of Prancing Through LIFE’s articles written par moi for any necessary confirmation of my annoying and insistent ardour.
Jennifer Lawrence isn’t Classical, neo-Classical or Pre-Raphaelite; she is absolutely of our time, and we’re so lucky to have her. Forget the Marilyn Monroe build of the Hollywood stars, when people look back in ten years, Lawrence will (we hope) be It. The girl, the industry. The talented, award-winning actress who was beautiful and ate pizza, wore a tank-dress to the OSCARs, refused to conform to Hollywood dress size regulations, collected a vast and varied filmography, had a sense of humour, and managed it all without ego, irony or – one may argue – a view towards self-preservation.
I don’t really know why I’m talking about her in past tense. She’s here, at Vanity Fair, to sell her new film, Serena. She’s got the same haircut as her Prohibition-era heroine, and red-glossed lips, and a massive fuck-off diamanté necklace. She looks fucking expensive. We’ve interrupted her, we’re imposing on her tropical, leisurely afternoon and her parrot. We can tell by the parted mouth and narrowed eyes.
But she commands the scene. She meets our gaze straight on. Poised, provocative, perfect. Everything about her oozes sex.
Of course, of course, you know where I’m going with this. Vanity Fair’s feature last week comprised of two parts: the interview that took place face-to-face, on Serena etcetera, and the hurried afterthought phone call that addressed the elephant in the room.
“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting.”
These are her words on the matter, finally, and they leave no space for miscomprehension. We are talking – and, by God, are we talking, have been for days, in person, online, sharing and re-sharing and re-shaping – about the breaking and entering of property; her phone. And the word ‘property’ carries more than one velocity when we are also talking about the fact that this mass distribution to websites such as Reddit, of apparently valuable and coveted goods, brought profit to criminals.
Thus, we are talking about Jennifer Lawrence’s body as property, to be viewed, evaluated and sold on. It sounds melodramatic, but actually, it’s the boiled down and ugliest truth of the matter. Hooray for technology, hooray for capitalism.
When Lawrence talks about choice and territory, she’s using words that have been spun around in debate since Classical times, with regards to the right to ‘property’. The issue that marks off our time from previous ones is that there is now an entirely new territory – that of public and private spaces online – that is not, and for obvious reasons never can be, set in stone. Let’s say no thanks to Plato and his censorship-via-state ideas, but focus more on choice.
Not only should it be J-Law’s choice to do what she will with the body that is her own, but also ours to judge which territories we carve out as ours on the internet. We had the choice not to view the ‘goods’. I could say that I didn’t, even that I didn’t read the articles behind reporting headlines because it felt like someone else was getting paid to spread the news and perpetuate the circulation – but would anyone believe me, and what does that say about our attitudes towards what goes online for public consumption anyway?
That we’re in denial. Just because this shit is happening on a screen and not in ‘real life’ doesn’t mean we’re not responsible for it. “It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It’s a sexual violation.” Enough pussy-footing about, this is what is. I’m going to try very hard not to apologise for the levels of didacticism going on here. Rant over.
To look at Vanity Fair’s campaign shoot, where Lawrence is sexualised, with a more-than-hint of boob, and composed, and doing it so well, is not to say as so many seem to be, that she is ‘back in control’. There was and still is no control, which is the point, and what needs to change. But she’s certainly ‘back’. And she’s still got It. She meets us square on with that seductive stare. And we’re on her turf, on her terms.
Fucking yes, Jen.
Hannah O is the Editor of FILM, THEATRE & TV at PTL. She really likes camera equipment, long words, and anything she can deep fat fry. Do not approach Hannah when she is eating fried food in the early hours; she will be drunk and convinced she knows everything. Elsewise, these days she may be found in Edinburgh University Library with her head in a book – probably Facebook.
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(Images sourced from: www.vanityfair.com)
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