“Made Ya Look”
Written by Kent Southers (site coming soon)
To me, the (over) utilization of sexuality is much like contrast, saturation, composition, leading lines, etc. In creating an image of any kind (landscape, product, fashion, etc.) ONE element of it is its ability to ‘grab’ the viewer’s attention amongst the competition. ANOTHER element is its ability to ‘draw the eye’ of the viewer to where you want them to go. Just like using high saturation doesn’t necessarily make for a better image than a desaturated one can … but it can definitely ‘Make ya look” a bit quicker … so it is with sexuality in imagery.
It is in my opinion that the fashion industry is a game of ‘one upmanship’ in the ability to GRAB the viewer’s attention and has relied more heavily on the sexuality as it’s method of ‘grabbing’. And given that the root purpose of fashion is to sell products, I find that most fashion images do a poor job of drawing the viewers eye. They do however strive to generate an association of ‘sexiness’ or glamor or richness or coolness or some other form of associative emotion… so the viewer goes “Oooooh, I wanna be like that, so I gotta have Designer X.” by virtue of the ‘creativeness’ of the image as a whole. (This is a reflection of society being a ‘wanna-be’ society, in my opinion.)
ENORMOUS amounts of money suggests that “Sex Sells” and thus it ‘must’ be the way to go … and becomes somewhat self-fulfilling… continuing the one upmanship to perpetuity. For me, I find that the more ‘sexual’ a fashion image is … the more often I find it lacking in other elemental areas. I realize that the photographer may not be the one driving this… rather it might be the AD, or simply being driven by the desire to set themselves apart with even more ‘cutting edge’ … i.e.”Made ya look” can apply all along the food chain.
I realize that I’m an absolute ‘nobody’ when it comes to this, but I find that the (over) utilization of sexuality is proportionate to the (under) utilization of other ways to draw the viewer to where you want them to go … yet has an undeniable power in tapping in on some base emotions. For money, sex sells … as an indication of a photographic excellence, “skin to win” can be a bit of a (money making) cover up. There are plenty of non-sexual ways to create a powerful image that both grabs and leads … they just take more talent & effort to achieve. Sexuality is quicker and easier … and thus very profitable.
Just say it like it is … SEX SELLS … and it’s all about the MONEY. It’s not a reflection of today’s society to ‘justify’ the further utilization of sexuality, but rather a reflection of those who are chasing the money … the masses of society are just a captive audience that trail those who have monetary influence. If you have a market that wants to pay for sexuality and you want to produce sexuality to garner that money … that’s an individual (albeit many individuals) choice.
While the masses may have become ‘normalized’ and ‘desensitized’ to the sexuality … it’s a game of “Made ya look.” one upmanship that took them there. Then again, so is the used car salesman wearing the clown jacket and screaming about the “crazy” prices at their BIG SALE, or the impoverished images of devastation fund raisers use. People eventually grow weary of “looking” and finding little interest in what lies behind the ‘grab’ when it is a shallow grab. Thus, the cycle of needing a LOUDER grab seemingly self-perpetuates … until such time everyone is screaming, then someone will ‘whisper’.
“Made Ya Look”…Now What?
Thanks for this wonderful article Kent. Straight to the point, candid and honest.
I really appreciated it… Benjamin