Thursday, January 26, 2012

Steel Panther poster banned in UK for sexy/sexist imagery

Spinal Tap would be so proud.

Indeed. Steel Panther are yet another parody band who do the material so well that people take it seriously. At least that's what happened when this outrageously over-the-top poster appeared in the UK last fall.

The Guardian reports that the ASA, the UK's notoriously ninny ad standards enforcer, did not accept the argument that that the ads were meant to "poke fun at the ridiculousness of the attitude to women, outfits and music in that [1980s] era".

Here's the ruling in full:
"The ASA noted Universal Island Records' argument that the poster was not meant to cause offence or be seen as demeaning to women.  However, we considered that the main image on the poster was overtly sexual.  We noted that the pose of the woman showed her with her legs apart, her hand between her legs and her breasts partially exposed and considered that her facial expression was suggestive of an orgasm and sexual activity.  In addition to this, we considered that the album title "Balls Out" was sexually suggestive particularly when viewed in the context of the poster, where the woman was seen dangling two silver balls between her legs in a way that we considered was suggestive of male genitalia. 
We noted Universal Island Records' argument that the poster was meant to be viewed humorously and not to be taken seriously as it was meant to represent the over-the-top image of the band featured in the poster.  However, we considered that most people would not view the poster in this way and even if they had viewed it in that context, the poster was overtly sexual when taken as a whole.  Given its placement in a range of public locations, we concluded that it was likely to cause serious and widespread offence, was unsuitable to be seen by children and therefore was not appropriate for outdoor advertising."
Universal had stated that their media plan favoured locations that are "popular with adults for nights out" but since the campaign is over now anyway, it hardly matters.

What is interesting about all of this is the struggle between artistic licence in the pursuit of laughs and real-life standards against sexism, racism, and other social ills. It's such a fine line...

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