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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

poster divergence: ‘The A-Team’ and ‘Sex and the City 2’

I’ve been particularly struck by the posters for The A-Team (a big version after the jump), variations of which are currently appearing on the sides of buses and on the walls of subway stations all around New York City. The images are genuinely arresting, and I’m always unable to stop myself gawking at them. Take a look:

Notice how the harsh lighting and the extreme closeups seem to highlight every wrinkle, every pore, every bit of stubble on the faces of Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharlto Copley, and Quinton Jackson. Every “imperfection” is right in our faces, and yet this renders them all very attractive and very human. Even Cooper, who is almost supernaturally gorgeous, seems like a mere mortal here, yet oddly even more appealing than usual.

You might consider that ironic, since Hollywood tends to want to iron out all suggestion of humanness in the faces it pushes at us, but it’s downright startling when you compare this poster to that of Sex and the City 2:

These women barely look human — as Jezebel noted back in April, this poster is a Photoshop of horrors. Kristin Davis, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, and Cythia Nixon don’t look good at all, and yet clearly what is operating here is an assumption that women’s human “flaws” must be downplayed in order for them to be considered attractive.

These two posters constititute a distressingly blatant example of how Hollywood pushes very different standards for women and men: men are more attractive the more human they are, and women are more attractive the more unreal they look.

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  • heather

    Firstly,the men ain’t skanky or whorish lookin…all them chicks need to be wearin bras!!!!
    Secondly,the men are built average to muscular,and them chicks need a few cheeseburgers and tacos shoved down the throtas…they be waaaaay to skinny…
    Thirdly,Sharlto Copley is a BABE..and,well,them skanks in the city are nothing i would even wanna emulate…

    The A-Team dresses more reasonably,and aren’t all into clothes and fashion,save Faceman…
    Being a female,I would identify more with the ateam,than those whorish women anyday…Not every female is worried about wearing designer dresses or shoes.I prefer a good pair of khakis and hightops to some manolo blanik heels that will kill the archers…

  • Cori Ann

    Wow, I don’t think Kim Cattrall looked that young when she was that young–I’m flashing back to Mannequin and that’s not even close. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion they may have just photo-shopped Elizabeth Banks’ head into this poster…

  • Christine

    Wow, Heather, I don’t even know where to begin with your post. You seem to be missing the point entirely. Denigrating other women with the same misogynistic tropes that MAJ discusses regularly on this site does you no favors. The issue here is not that women should be condemned for being sexual creatures, and that’s all you’re doing with the ‘skank’ nonsense.

    Honestly, ‘whorish women’? ‘Chicks need to be wearin bras’? I dislike SaTC intensely, but I’d still identify with these women over someone who seems to despise her own gender.

  • Brian

    The close-ups allow each man’s eyes to tell us something, too, because they are allowed to look directly at the viewer. The women’s eyes in the SATC poster aren’t looking anywhere that we can identify. These women aren’t allowed to have access to the audience in the same way, I guess.

    I guess Hollywood doesn’t trust that we’ll find any woman’s image appealing if it isn’t altered, though. I’m still scratching my head over that Salt poster that you posted a few weeks ago. Everyone knows exactly what Angelina Jolie looks like from a billion paparazzi photos – and she looks unnaturally beautiful even in those. But there they go, removing her nose and giving her cheekbones that could cause paper cuts. WTF?

  • Der Bruno Stroszek

    God, look at Sarah Jessica Parker’s face in that poster! It’s like it’s sliding off her head!

    Is it just me, or is Photoshop on movie posters getting worse all the time? I don’t recall seeing so many disasters before about 2005, 2006, after which everyone in Hollywood seemingly forgot how to use the damn thing. For all that everyone talks about how Julia Roberts’s head was pasted onto someone else’s body on the Pretty Woman poster, you couldn’t tell unless you specifically knew what had been changed, whereas it’s hard not to see what’s been altered on that SATC2 poster.

    I remember seeing the similarly-extreme ‘shopping on the poster for The Women remake a few years back and thinking, this is part of why Hollywood finds it hard to get older women in the cinema – their marketing material basically says “We consider your actual faces too disgusting to be placed in public view without extensive retouching”.

  • Brian

    I remember only one movie poster of the last several years that has allowed a woman such a full-on, relatively unaltered close-up: The Queen.. And even that is only half of her face.

  • Kat

    What makes this even scarier is a look at the birth-dates of everyone involved – in chronological order: Neeson 52, Catrall 56, Parker 65, Davis 65, Nixon 66, Copley 73, Cooper 75, Jackson 78. In other words the SATC ladies are older than the A-team (with the exception of Neeson) yet they are photoshopped into twenty-something looking zombies whilst the men are allowed to display over-thirty rugged handsomeness.

    (And I do hope Heather’s post was ironic. Otherwise what Christine said.)

  • So what do we make of how the names of the characters for the A-Team are on the poster, but the names of the actresses are on the SitC poster (and over the wrong actresses, no less)?

  • MaryAnn

    I think what we make of the names is that, in the *A-Team* cast, only Liam Neeson might be considered a household name. But of the *SATC* cast, the show made them all household names.

    A *SATC* poster with the characters’ names would work just fine. I don’t think am *A-Team* poster with the actors’ names would have the same impact as the names of their iconic characters.

  • Regarding character names: Interesting that, in the A-Team poster, only “B.A. Baracus” gets to have his full name displayed. Isn’t “B.A.” iconic enough, and wouldn’t it match the others’ nicknames better? As it is, it’s kinda like a Star Wars poster that features the iconic names of “Luke, Han, Leia, and Lando Calrissian.”

  • Dokeo


    I’m guessing using B.S.’s full name was a graphic design decision. Using only the first initials creates unbalance in the layout – you have one square with so much less text than the others:

    Notice that Face’s square includes most of the big “A.”

  • I think you’re right, Dokeo. I didn’t consider the design angle.

    And here I was, all ready to accuse Rampage of insisting “My character gets his full name on all marketing materials, punks!” when the reason is probably simpler than I might think. :-)

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