Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Out of the Wilde

This is going to sound crazy. This might just be crazy. In fact, this is flat-out crazy. But I really wish Olivia Wilde would stop posing like this. OK, OK, you probably want to throw something at me right about now. Go ahead, I deserve it. (Dodges a toaster oven.) Hey, nothing that could hurt me!

Here is the thing, whenever you discuss beautiful women there is always a fine line between appreciation and objectification. I try, though probably not always successfully, to stay respectfully on the side of appreciation. But make no mistake, there is a real and unmistakable distinction. One can appreciate a beautiful woman as a whole without objectifying her for a single salacious purpose (that’d be s-e-x, in case any of you haven’t had your morning coffee yet).

I’ve been a fan of Olivia’s for a while now. She first caught my (not to mention Mischa Barton’s) eye as bisexual cutie Alex on “The O.C.” But then she went brunette (nothing against blondes, blondes – I just think darker tones work better on her) and I really, really started to notice. Now, I’ve had my problems with Thirteen’s storyline on “House.” Snoreteen hasn’t helped. But Olivia has always been spectacular to watch.

From reading her interviews and following her tweets, I believe her to be a smart, funny and deeply compassionate person who just happens to be strangle-a-mountain-ox hot. (I mean it, she is really, really, really funny.) But poses like this, well, they undermine all that other stuff a bit and just scream SEX BOMB. Not that women can’t be intelligent and hilarious and sexy, all at once. Of course they can, and deliciously so. It’s just a matter of frequency. Here are Olivia’s last five major magazine spreads.

[Click any to enlarge for research, yes, research.]

Elle, March 2010
GQ Italia, January 2010
GQ, October 2009
Maxim, July 2009
GQ, June 2009

OK, so that’s a lot of skin and a lot of sexy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Nothing at all. Heck, I’ve posted many of these at some point. It’s just that’s all we get to see of Olivia in the mainstream media. Now, it’s not really her fault. The magazines and photographers set up the shoots and pose her as they like. But wouldn’t it be nice if she was in, say, a gorgeous gown. Or a sophisticated suit. Or, better yet, celebrated for her philanthropic work. Or, best yet, her brain. Did you see her on Bill Maher? Girl’s smart. (Check out that last video, particularly.) Basically, anything that wouldn’t give people the opportunity to write the headline: “Olivia Wilde Gets Down on All Fours for Elle.”

Appreciation/objectification – there’s a fine line. And that’s pretty much it, right there.


Fiona said...

I'm SO conflicted right now. A little flustered, gah.

bzzzzgrrrl said...

Yes, yes, and thank you for saying so. It's a fine line indeed — but we know it when we see it, don't we?

Norma Desmond said...

Lady, as usual, I agree with you 100%.

Anonymous said...

I don't find many of those photos enticing...
just plain objectified! I don't believe it's a fine line.
The pose of the "model" will define if it's an objectification. The model could be standing in her underware, but if she's got her self bent over in contorted positions - that says 'come fuck me'.

This is why I have stopped reading this site most of the time because I feel that there is more objectification of the subjects than who the individual is that is being written about.

I do like the hockey photos of late, though.
They show the subjects in their natural environment.

Show pictures of real women - with curves and standing up straight ;)

Anonymous said...

She has actually been celebrated for her philanthropic work. She won an "Artivist" award for her involvement with 'Power Up Gambia'...and there are also recent pics of her planting organic gardens with school children in California. This stuff just isn't as readily available as these magazine covers....and Olivia seems humble, so she won't go out and promote her own good deeds.--She is VERY good at promoting her causes however!

alice said...

This is why I love this site. While I may draw the line a bit earlier than you do, I appreciate the fact that you *are* examining where the line gets drawn, and why. For me, most stuff that's meant to titilate is objectifying in a negative way, and it's a rare, awesome thing when there's agency, personality and sensuality all together. Here's hoping that there are more opportunities for the latter as we keep going forward!

Rizz Rustbolt said...

I think with Princess Olivia here, it's all about the stuff we don't see. I think we can all agree that is the sexiest thing about her.

Although, she does have a nice bottom.

aygul said...

Hmm, the only ones I really like are from GQ Italia. And that's because the shot with the glasses and bottle is at least a little interesting.

lynnie said...

I wish I hadn't seen that first pic. Poses like that make me sort of ill, knowing (who) they are meant to entice...not to mention the obvious that certain 'poses' should remain in one's private life between partners. acckkk.

Unknown said...

I don't know...she seems like she was coached a bit and even reading a cue card in that last sequence. Not saying she's not smart, but Bill is a little to quick to agree with the points she makes.

elliB said...

I think she is smart and beautiful and has a good heart (she was involved in Haitian charities before the earthquake and was one of the first to start tweeting about sending aide, among other things) and if she poses like this occasionally to get people to notice, or because the photogs suggest it, or whatever, it's her choice, whether or not we agree with it. I feel like if she felt exploited or too objectified, she would speak up. At least I'd hope so.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what you say to a point. If it were someone with lesser control, lesser intelligence, less money or power, exploitation may be one way to label this.

But since she has all of the above and chooses to do the shoot, and continues to pose provocatively despite all of her charity work, smarts and solid and well-paying career, then I don't necessarily think it really is objectification or no less than beautiful skinny women modeling to sell something whether it is product or sex.

I agree though that the Olympians are equally sexy, fun and real.

Keep up the insightful commentary.

Anonymous said...

She's obviously paid a lot of money to look like she's ready to get fucked so I know when I look at it that it's about money and men. period.
And that ain't sexy to me.

Michelle and Lora said...

Objectified? Debatable. Inaccessible? Most certainly.

True, it seems to be mostly about money and men, but these shots really say to men (or anyone else who might like to f&ck OW), "Make the most of these pics, suckah, 'cause you ain't never gettin' any closer than this."

The pics don't do much for me, but, you know, if she were dressed as a Mord Sith (Legend of the Seeker), sneering with malevolent sexuality...

Kris said...

I totally agree. But I think Olivia is a smart girl and she likes to be in that in between. Her interviews and tweets and her charity work speaks for itself, and maybe she just wants people to know that smart is sexy. Nerd and glasses don't label you as smart. And skimpy bikinis or being topless in a magazine doesn't label you as an airhead.

I think that OW is so utterly gorgeous.. and I think she picks and chooses what she wants to do.

N!k!t@ said...

Miss Snarker, nice to see the 30 rock reference in your post, good to know your Fey-naticism hasn't gone anywhere :P

You forgot to yell "Nothing that plugs in you guys" but other than that bravo (clap clap)

Also, as usual, totally agree with you.

Anonymous said...

omg I just read "Olivia Wilde gets down on all fours for Ellen"
this doesn't really help with the objectification, right?
I should just shut up.

Fi said...

i agree with you completely. When I first saw that pic, I was a bit disappointed with Olivia.