Comedy rape and pillage

I’m struggling not to start this post with the familiar trope ‘maybe I’m being a bit humourless, but…’. Then I decided that my feminist principles needed airing.

Yesterday I saw an ad in the Tube for the East Coast railway line. They’ve been running a rather charming and clever set of ads for quite some time, featuring model stations and little plastic figures. Normally they make me smile. Yesterday, they didn’t.

Their new ad shows, as usual, a model of a station platform peopled by miniature figures. It highlights the Jorvik Centre, a visitor attraction dedicated to Viking history. Across the platform strides a plastic Viking with a plastic sword in his hand. Over his shoulder he carries a plastic woman, apparently in modern dress.

Clearly, the main cliché associated with the Vikings is ‘rape and pillage’. However, we should remember that this means sexual violence, stealing and destruction. Just when did the abduction and rape of women become gently amusing?

You can call me po-faced but I really think this was beyond the pale. They may be little plastic figures but what they are representing – turning rape into comedy – isn’t acceptable. Would they show a little plastic Viking stabbing a little plastic Saxon to death? I don’t think so.

It reminded me of an ad for Stieg Larsson’s books which I saw at Waterloo Station just before Christmas. A sexy-looking picture of Noomi Rapace and images of the three books were coupled with the tagline: Which Girl Would You Like In Your Christmas Stocking?

Eh – eh? Nudge-nudge! That is, which episode of a story about widespread institutionalised violence against women do YOU fancy a piece of? Phworr.

I suppose this highlights the need for more women on advertisers’ creative teams – someone who can say, hang on a minute, guys, rape isn’t actually funny or sexy. Even so, I can’t help wondering whether many women have become so inured to this kind of ingrained sexist attitude that they wouldn’t even notice.

Published in: on February 4, 2011 at 13:06  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Totally agree with you Lady E.

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