Sunday, 19 March 2017

Laying Bare

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon this casting call..

Of course, I laughed. Everything about it is bloody funny, from the idea of being festooned by the occasional crab to being the Meryl Streep of stunt corpses. But, as this beautiful dead woman lies on our examination table and we investigate further, we quickly gain an insight into a huge issue on how women are portrayed.  Setting these hilarious little crabs aside, there is a huge problem with the casting of the Beautiful Naked Female Corpse.

Dead, naked women pop up regularly on casting websites. If they're lucky, they're not being shagged...

What these roles do is boil down to what is essentially wanted from a female character: attractive, naked and silent. Little thought has gone into the character. In fact, there's no character at all. Just a body to be gawped at, fleshy set dressing, a goose-pimpled prop. I'm starting to think that drama school is failing women in not teaching them how to get their kit off and learn how to keep as still as possible for as long as possible.

Reading these casting calls is utterly heartbreaking.  I'd find it easier if I didn't come across these so often but they are everywhere and it's reducing women to literally a piece of meat, a role that could be played by a mannequin. What's incredibly sad is that, often, the actress is cheaper than a mannequin. Pose this role as incredible experience, wonderful showreel material, some easy work, and save yourself a few pennies in the process.

I've never paid a dead, naked woman. I have, however, played a woman in a coma. I joked around at first, at how I was just getting to lie around all day in bed. The crew joked that I could have been horrendously hungover and it wouldn't have mattered. But then there's the horrible realisation that anyone could do this. There's no acting involved, nothing to draw on, nothing to feel proud about, you just lie back and think of what the heck you're doing with your life.

So why are there so many? Why, every time you watch a crime drama, is there a scene been played out as a woman lies there, nipples out, like a meaty coffee table? We have a woman, the victim, shown at her most vulnerable. She has no lines, no personality, she's just a thing to be referred to. Maybe, if she's lucky, there might be a flashback where we see how she dies, because if there's anything we like more than a dead woman, it's seeing that naked (obviously) woman being tortured...

But what angers me more than the nudity, the lifelessness, is that they're still, so often, required to be beautiful. Even in death, even after unspeakable murder, she must still remain magnificent. She is a woman, and even on the mortician's slab or dragged into a ditch, she must fulfil her duty as stunning set dressing.

Look at that last one. She's dead and yet she's still seductive, still beautiful, still a sex object. She's a piece of attractive meat that is there to be fucked. They mention that the actress needs strong acting skills, presumably ones that allow her to remain lifeless while she reminds herself that she deserves better than this. 

It was recently International Women's Day, a day that we clearly still need to have because this is how the world still sees women, as nothing more than a mannequin. My hope is that, by the next one, the Beautiful Naked Female Corpse will no longer be the role I see on a daily basis. We are not slabs of meat, we're not lifeless sex objects and, my god, we are not to be festooned with occasional dead crabs. 

I've recently set up a Ko-fi page where the idea is that, if you like what someone does, you treat them to a virtual cup of coffee by donating them the money of what a coffee would be in a reasonably pricey cafe. I'm not a fan of coffee, I'm more of a tea person myself, and, to be honest, just people reading, sharing and commenting on what I do is payment enough but sometimes going through these casting calls requires much tea-based comfort so, you know, it's there if you fancy it...