It's not easy being a woman in this world. If you succeed at keeping yourself physically safe, there's so much you have to smile through, pretend you didn't hear, or just plain numb yourself to in order to keep your eyes on the prize, whatever that might be.
I try to pick my fights. God knows Hollywood alone can make you crazy. I've seen so many images of women sliced, diced, and brutalized in my 32 years, I can't even separate them into stills. They're just a high-speed montage that loops forever.
This toxic bombardment, like air pollution, is easy to blow off. We love movies. We love TV. Its tiring to fight all the time. Easy to rationalize that they're just pictures, that we're such masters of our consciousness that nothing untoward could ever wreak damage.
But there are some pictures you can't blow off.
I write today to thank each and every person who called to complain about the PR campaign for the film Captivity. Their outcry resulted in the planned removal of outdoor ads in Los Angeles and New York.
The Hollywood Reporter's Nicole Sperling reports:
"In the wake of a public outcry against Los Angeles billboards and New York taxicab tops advertising the upcoming movie Captivity with images of the abduction, torture and death of a young woman, After Dark Films said it will take down the offending ads by 2 p.m. today.
"After Dark, its theatrical distribution partner Lionsgate Films and the MPAA received a barrage of phone calls objecting to the gratuitous depiction of the film's star Elisha Cuthbert being tortured and killed.
"The billboards, first posted March 13, feature four frames with captions above each one. "Abduction" shows Cuthbert with a gloved hand over her face; "Confinement" features the actress behind a chain-link fence with a bloody finger poking through; "Torture" depicts Cuthbert's face, covered in white gauze, with tubes shoved up her nose; and "Termination" shows her with her head thrown back, seemingly dead."
My stomach still turns from those pictures. Enough so that I didn't simply click to another website, trying to forget what I saw. I entered the moment. Not as the actress, or a character, but as an impacted viewer. I imagined what it would be like to drive down the freeway and see the image of the murdered woman in "Termination" and how assaulted I'd feel, and how sad I'd feel for Ms. Cuthbert's parents. I imagined being a girl on a school bus, having a classmate look at those pictures, then look at me. I remembered the nightmares I had as an eight-year-old. I remembered what it was like to feel like prey.
And I wondered how often it takes to be told that some humans are expendable before the belief takes hold.
I know that by talking about this movie, I am breathing life into some PR hack's plan to create killer buzz for this oh-so-killer movie. I don't care. I'll go with the idea that some of those "angry callers" were real people (not just more hired hands) who took it upon themselves to pushback against such an assault.
I hear the chorus of cynics: sex sells, violence sells. We like to watch. I get it. There is just a point though where the level of sickness is so acute, the pendulum swing so hard in the wrong direction, that we need a moment of stillness to witness.
When this movie is released, I am not going to picket theatres. If I see ads on TV, I will turn the channel. I will claim its to keep my sanity.
But really, its because it hurts too much to keep staring this in the face.
That's the rub. Life would be great if you could keep your eyes on the prize and be impervious to outside forces. But you can't. We live in an ecosystem. We have to care about the air we breathe, the energies we absorb. We can keep ignoring it all if we want. But its certainly not ignoring us.