Recently, I spent some time gathering movie posters for several of last year's top-grossing films. I noticed that in movies with male leads, the posters usually featured them prominently, with either up-close shots of their faces (smiling in a mocking "I'm hilarious!" way, or looking pretty bad-ass, like they're about to do some shit). Or, the posters showed full-body shots of them already engaged in some kind of action.
That led me to wonder about the movie posters with female leads and whether they would contain the same elements. I did some research, looking for movie posters that featured lead actresses, and making it a point to leave out the most offensive posters (extreme close-ups of body parts, etc) of which there were many. I specifically looked for posters where the female lead took up most, if not all of it, and I tried to favor facial close-ups.
In case you weren't aware, many of the less offensive promotional movie posters featured below still led me to believe at least one of the following about the lead actress's potential role in the film:
D. she will spend most of her time in the movie trying to avoid getting killed
E. she will spend most of her time in the movie trying to avoid killing herself
F. she will spend most of her time in the movie being adorable
I'm curious as to whether this was intentional, or if you've internalized so much of our cultural hatred toward women that you subconsciously cast them as passive objects rather than active subjects, even in cases where the actresses play very active roles in the films. (Case in point: The Pelican Brief. In this film, Julia Roberts spends some of the time trying to avoid getting killed and the rest of the time completely blowing open a government fucking conspiracy. Yet the poster merely suggests ohmygod fear.)
I will concede that there are certainly cases where the lead actress actually plays a passive object, but for the most part, that's not the case. And for the record, using these posters to portray the leading ladies as seductresses and/or sexy yet crazed-looking potential serial killers does not constitute an active subject. Please advise.
P.S. It's fine with us if you want to put more women of color on movie posters. But that would require giving them their own movies, wouldn't it?