My mind was wondering on the tube today, as it often does, and decided to settle upon a new poster for The Bounty Hunter. Looks fun, I thought.
Gerard Butler built up his star persona in ‘bloke’ films – Rock ‘N’ Rolla, 300 – then started to appear in romantic comedies – P.S. I Love You, The Ugly Truth, and now, The Bounty Hunter. He tricked us men! He lured us in to Gerard-the-lad world so deep that we never realised it’s a ‘chick flick’.
Consider The Ugly Truth – a film that I haven’t seen, I’ll admit now – but from what I understand has its particular ‘comedy’ emphasis on the gross out. The Bounty Hunter, likewise, appears to take a more male-centric genre, action, and adapt it for romance. Katherine Hegel stars alongside him in the former, an actress who cemented her status in Knocked Up – another male-centric film (see: Judd Apatow’s casual, but probably not intended, sexism).
I presume men and women adore Gerard Butler about equally, as they probably both do for Hegel, and in the most recent case, for the sympathy pit Jennifer Aniston. The rom-com is shifting in demographic by targeting both halves of the heterosexual gender, by making films that appeal just as much to a particular concept of the male spectator
I digress. My original point – the poster:
In the version I saw, the catch line read “LOCKING UP YOUR EX. BEST JOB EVER”. Thanks to a signal failure at Upminster, I stared at the poster a little longer than it’s probably meant to be. My first impression, as I previously wrote, was “that looks fun”.
Staring at it longer though, parts and sections of it began to pop out at me like a horny Robert Langdon working on a clue. Gerard Butler is sitting on top of Jennifer Aniston WITH HANDCUFFS. The tagline reads “LOCKING UP YOUR EX”??!? Straight away we have Aniston tied to a bed, submissive, as her place in the poster suggests, underneath a panting, oscillating Butler. Follow this train of thought. “BEST JOB EVER”?!??!?*?:S! Any way one reads that, the sentence’s emphasis purely lies in ‘job’. Hand job? Blow job? Steve Jobs? Take your pick. Both actors have half-smiles. How alluring! They’re doing something kinky, and you can only be in on it if you watch the film. Why not opt for a more conventional Aniston grump and Butler laughing approach? Considering the film’s narrative, that would surely be more suitable. Additionally, the version of the poster I saw had The Bounty Hunter in a red strip across its lower third. A red band? The most forbidden of trailers…
Why this preoccupied my thoughts since is because of the levels the poster works on. Initially, I thought it looked fun. But really? What in that poster suggests ‘fun’? Bar my own experience of Butler ‘fun’, nothing about the poster makes one ‘lol’, or dare I say, ‘rofl’. Yet the mini-Freud lurking around the ol’ medulla oblongata felt the need to secrete a few of the specialty hormones.
It’s fascinating how many things must register on a subconscious level – things that, however harmless or disguised, alter one’s subjectivity. Just like when getting a professional massage, it’s odd to realise someone else can know more about your body than you do. Likewise, when acknowledging the manipulative effects of a promotional poster, you’re acknowledging an advertiser knows more about your own brain.
I’m aware that this has been covered by a great many people who have far more insightful comments (as pointed out by my girlfriend when I told her), but those moments of recognition never fail to wrong foot you.
It doesn’t matter any more, though. I found a poster that turns me on way more…