Celebrities get fishy for a cause
A new exhibition called Fishlove aims to raise awareness of overfishing by showing celebrities posing naked with dead sea life.PT0M0S 620 349
About a week ago, images of Lizzy Jagger astride a tuna began making waves, not so much because she is astride a tuna – funnily enough - but because she is without a stitch on. Naked as a jaybird. Quite apart from the physicality of straddling a fish while nude, this image moves me about as much as Kim Kardashian does. There is nothing I find remotely surprising or interesting about a celebrity stripping for charity any more, including the media's reaction, which was to provide extensive coverage of Lizzy, Lizzy's smooth flank and the gormless looking tuna. I was, however, surprised by the public shock and that it warranted a segment on Australian radio last week.
In the realm of Naked Women Sell Everything this campaign is fairly standard. The main images from the Fishlove, an initiative designed to raise awareness of the dangers of overfishing, ticks all the boxes. And when I say main images, I mean the ones hand-picked by various media outlets. So, the ones with women. They feature good looking women. They feature nude women. They feature boobs, a nipple (and a cuttlefish) and an artfully draped pubic region (with an octopus). They are over-zealously photo-shopped (as all naked women must always be). They are tenuously linked to the cause they are supposed to be about. In the images of men, there is nary a nipple, pubic bone or bottom to be seen. The images of women are sexual, the images of men are a bit cute and mostly from the waist up. And, despite the fact the campaign features men and women, and women over the age of 30, the poster girl for the entire campaign is the young thing straddling something. And tell me, are you surprised? Bored? Maybe even vaguely insulted? But the bigger question is, by seeing these images are you any more aware of the serious environmental cause they are purporting to promote?
Naked women have been selling everything from cars to stationery for years. You know that. You've grown up with it. Executives sat around boardroom tables after the sexual awakening of the 1960s and quickly realised that 'sex sells' and that naturally escalated in to 'naked women sell.' But for a long time charities were immune to this cheap trick. Campaigns by PETA in the early 1990s changed all that and since then charities globally have followed suit.
Over the past decade or so we’ve seen Venus Williams strip for The Elton John AIDS Foundation, Victoria Beckham for Skin Cancer Awareness, Milla Jovovich for Clothes Off Our Back and Sarah Michelle Gellar for the Coalition of Skin Diseases in America to name but a few. Stars without clothes for charities are becoming as ubiquitous as stars without make up for gossip magazines.
But take, for a minute, Fishlove's nipples, octopus-draping and fish-straddling and compare it to the recent campaign from Animals Australia, Make it Possible. It’s a nudity free campaign, one would assume, because nudity is irrelevant to its core values. Instead they have gone straight to the factory farms themselves. The voices aren't famous ones, they belong to the animals the campaign is trying help. I challenge you to not be moved by gentle voice of the pig singing about imagined freedom in unison with his fellow factory farm inmates.
Placed side-by-side it makes the celebrity nude shoots feel even more focused on raising the profile of celebrity rather than the cause. So which campaign will be more successful? Which one will achieve its goals? Will Lizzy Jagger save the fish or will a singing pig who grows wings and escapes his factory farm, wake a country up to horrendous animal cruelty? I don't know. But I know which one is already has a bigger impact on me.