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November 27 2011

Avengers Ass-emble! A role-reversing parody of the recently-released promo image that continues the promotional theme of male power and female sexuality.

(Although to be fair, Hulk is in a state of undress too.)

Hulk SMASH puny Male Gaze!
That is the most awesome thing I've seen all day. Or Assesome?
I had not seen that promo picture before, but let's just say I am in agreement with and respect for the artist who spoofed it. It's getting a bit old, the whole "hey look at the dudes with the muscles and the smashing things and oh look at the chick...who has...buttocks" thing.
Heather scared of what Hulk is doing..
Oh, Kevin. Your Hulk drawing has wounded my brain for life!
Can we get the real guys to strike those poses? 'Cause I'd be ok with that.
I think the promotional image is dumb, but not because the only woman character is in a ridiculous pose. It's dumb because they're all in ridiculous poses, and most of them more ridiculous than Black Widow's pose. Also, does anyone really believe Black Widow is the only character in that promo tending to promote an unrealistic body image? Or even that she is the most extreme example? This sort of stuff has been an issue in comics for decades, and it's not limited to female characters. Anyone who saw Captain America knows that Steve Rogers' pecs and abs were among the most significant supporting characters. Not that I have a particular problem with this sort of thing. This genre is, after all, largely an exercise in wish fulfillment. The promotional image here, though, is over the top by any standard. In fact, I can't think of a better parody of that image than the image itself.
I don't really think the salient issue is body image, though. To me, the problem that's being referenced in the parody is the difference in how the genders are represented.

Yes, across all the characters, we have examples of the kinds of bodies most people will never have. But all of the male characters are shown in positions of power and force.

Even Hawkeye, though he doesn't have any superpowers, is exhibiting what he contributes to the team. Black Widow's pose, however, seems to serve only to accentuate her ass, not what she contributes to The Avengers... assuming she doesn't have some new ass power that will blo-- I'm just gonna stop there.
I hear what you're saying, Knuckleball, but I don't really agree that it's supported by the images in the picture. Black Widow's power, basically, is martial arts, and she looks to be in a pretty typical martial arts fighting stance. By contrast, I can't see what possible good can come of Captain America's pose other than elongation of his torso to give us all a good look at his pecs, abs, and whatever those back and shoulder muscles are called. Same with Hawkeye. Who in god's name would ever fire an arrow like that -- all arch-backed and leg-splayed for no good reason? Hulk also appears poised to do absolutely nothing useful except showcase his massive arms, which take up about 90% of his rockin' green bod in this picture. Sure, they don't exactly hide Black Widow's ass, but it's hardly out of sync with their treatment of the male characters, nor is it the most over-the-top pose in the promo by any stretch -- at least IMO.

[ edited by Squishy on 2011-11-28 06:52 ]
The male poses (in the original) emphasize masculine dominance. If they're sexual or desirable, it's because they are powerful and dominant; and, as ridiculous as most of their poses are, they could all be interacting with an out-of-frame opponent (even Captain America could be raising his shield to block a descending projectile).

The one woman is posed to emphasize her physical attractiveness--she's posed like a model, not like a fighter. And there's no way she's interacting with anything: she's throwing a punch at thin air. Everything about her pose emphasizes the way her body exists for us to look at it. (As opposed to the male bodies, which are active, powerful, and dominant.)

.... and these are the ways in which relations of power/dominance are constantly programmed into us, without us even realizing what's happening most of the time. Hopefully the movie will do something to subvert these damaging ideas.
I think she's posed more like a fighter than the others. Again, she's in a pretty typical martial arts fighting stance, and her punch into thin air actually looks like she's aiming her wrist stingers at an unseen enemy. The males I mentioned above are, by contrast, not in anything remotely resembling a realistic action pose. They are posing like bodybuilders, or maybe even voguers, but definitely not like fighters.

That said, I agree with you that it would be a very good thing if the movie is substantially more intelligent than this promo. I'm pretty confident it will be.
Aside from the set pics, the promo images for The Avengers have been pretty lacklustre and predictable. There's Widow's bottom. And there it is again. And let's also give Widow a bobble head on the cover of Entertainment Weekly.
Cap seems to be screaming in the promo. I wish he were also screaming in the parody (while showing his cheeks at the same time, of course).
I suppose composition-wise they could have tried to come up with a different way that didn't highlight her hiney. I guess it's not a matter of being left handed though since Hawkeye and Thor apparently were...

But yeah, it is sort of weird that not only is she the only female lead but she also happens to be one of the more physically weak ones in terms of super-powered battles. (Aside from Hawkeye who also needs to stand far away from things.)
If only Joss were in charge of the promo as well.
I support this parody 80%. Black Widow should have awesome ripped muscles and be flexing.
The Hulk. The Hulk is promoting an unrealistic body image.

An extreme example, even.
I support this parody 80%. Black Widow should have awesome ripped muscles and be flexing.


Sexism is, after all, a two (at least) way street - despite what some may believe...
Well, I'm waiting for the inevitable "Crotch Shot of Power!" promo pic.

My favorite character in the drawing is Iron Man in his "fairy shooting twinkling beam of light pose." I keep picturing him with little wings on his back.
I love this website and its raging sexism debates.
The original is uninteresting, but the parody is hilarious.
It is funny because it is (at least 80%) true.
I'll be honest, I'm having trouble seeing how all the men can legitimately be imagined as interacting with an imaginary opponent, but not Black Widow, despite her "throwing a punch at thin air." I'm not sure, but that would be a pretty quick way to define the idea of interacting with an imaginary opponent. Is it deliberately Over the Shoulder because Scarlett Johannson has particular photegenic advantages to the marketing mind? Prolly. Is she being depicted as powerless or ineffectual? Nope.

Doesn't really help trying to cast her as a victim of promotional waif-ification since "Iron Man 2" was seen by more than the cast and crew, and there was no helpless waif to be found.
It's not that Black Widow's not in a fighting stance. She clearly is, but look at the angle and look at where the lighting is focused. The glutes are not generally considered fighting muscles, yet they are very clearly in the spotlight, whereas Hulk's flexing his arms, Thor's hammering the ground with lightning crawling up his arm, Hawkeye's aiming his arrow with his arms, Cap's obviously making some sort of battle cry with his arm holding his shield in the air, and Iron Man's catching blue fireflies for his really neat collection in his mom's basement.

Thanks Odin, just managed to spray my computer with my breakfast I was laughing so hard at your Iron Man comment!
That parody (and Odin's comment) made me giggle.
black widow's not punching thin air. she's using the "widow's bite", one of the weapons/equipment in her gauntlets
Oh sorry, I forgot to use sentence case.
When I see the male heroes, I think, "Power." When I see Black Widow, I think "Sex." I think that's the intention of the image/pose. On the other hand, maybe she just happens to be the sexiest Avenger.
I would agree that Black Widow has been mostly depicted as a sex object, which isn't the best thing in the world, but I would also say that she is not being depicted as weak in any sense. Her character is not as strong as the big 4, but neither is Hawkeye and she is nevertheless excellent at kicking ass and portrayed as such. It would be nice if the promos of her didn't feel so exploitive, but at least she's shown to be capable. I would also say that the male characters are highly sexualized, though not to quite the same extent.
I think the point of this parody isn't to make a huffy case about the sexual objectification of women or the male gaze, it's to show how ridiculous it is to emphasize sex over capability/character/presence by flipping the genders and showing the male Avengers in slutty poses. See how ridiculous that looks? Well, that's how straight women feel all the time, when we see awesome female characters celebrated for their sexuality first.

A real world example: Twilight's Edward and Jacob. Both are supernatural beings with amazing abilities, yet the marketing emphasizes how sexy/cuddly they are as opposed to what they're capable of. I don't know many guys who fanboy all over Edward or Jacob, because a fictional character whose attractiveness is the #1 consideration loses credibility in the eyes of a same-gender audience.
What GreatMuppetyOdin said, only not as funny.

*tries to fight using her glutes*

*gives up*

Well, I could sit on someone, maybe.
Maybe an ad campaign reminiscent of Dead Like Me would be fun: the superheros standing in line to punch in their time cards, talking around the office water bubbler, taking in a meeting, etc. Something to cater to the above-14-year-old market more overtly.
It's a cartoon aimed at a target audience of recently post-pubescent boys whose executive capacity of the frontal lobes over the more primitive limbic brain are not yet fully matured. What is the mystery, people?
I think you nailed it with your Twilight comparison dottikin. I tend to view Twilight as the story of Bella and her idealized supporting potential love interests and not as a story with breathing charecters.

The thing is, I view superhero comics (at their core) as having the same audience, only predominantly male. True, its a broader audience than that and there are no shortage of more mature titles. Still, it would be silly to sit here and suggest that Marvel is ignorant of the 13 year old boy when they're making these things.

I find the parody to be a very funny statement. That said, I have no problem with the Avengers poster any more than I do with Twilight. We all grow up from something.

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