my dangerous love/clothes/body/face

I came across this interesting cross-platform project called ‘my dangerous loverboy’ by the director Virginia Heath at the last Feminism in London conference. It aims to raise awareness about the sex trafficking of young girls. I’ve posted the main flagship video below, which was shown at the conference and elicited a pretty strong emotional response from me. It upset me in a number of ways, but what struck me the most was the inherently problematic narrative behind the video.

Sex trafficking is obviously a very sensitive and complex subject to tackle in a four minute film but I think that makes it all the more important to be careful about the kinds of messages that you are sending out. I think the effort made here by Heath is admirable and is one of the few initiatives that is trying to go some way in helping raise awareness around sex-trafficking. This is however at the cost of putting some important issues at stake, which can sometimes inevitably be the case when being the first few to deal with such sensitive subject-matter.

First of all, the way that the young girl is shown to be sort of flaunting herself and wearing sexyish clothing and make-up, dancing and drinking at a party, and as a result is taken in by nasty sex trafficking guy. The danger here is that it enforces other sexist double-standards about women having to restrict their behaviour just in case they get raped / trafficked / attacked / looked down upon. It then runs the risk of seeing the girl’s ultimation as a sex slave as coming about because of her careless behaviour, rather than the result of the illegal and downright sick activities of the sex traffickers she becomes ensnared by.

I understand the way in which the film, in it’s music video format, tries to appeal to the everyday girl who wants to be a pop-star and ‘just be loved’ and thereby demonstrate that ‘it could even happen to you’. However it is appealing to this very stereotype that partly results in the problematic nature of this video.

A friend of mine recently sent me this fantastic nub that tries to do the same thing as Heath’s one below but looks at the issue from a much more positive, solution-focussed stance, ‘we can save the world’ sort of stance. Have a look and see what you think.

Some of the other stories on Heath’s cross-platform project provide a very real backdrop to this nub, look here if you are interested in watching one of those too.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/gotWgZiQMwI%2Em4v%5D

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Nubvertising?

Wasted a substantial amount of time arguing yesterday about whether this shock viral starring Keira Knightley qualifies as a nub. To me it’s just an an ad with a simple message (domestic violence is horrible) that wants you to do a simple thing (give us your money so we can stop it/forward it). It’s a raw emotional hit, but I don’t think I learn anything new and there’s nothing really interesting about the way it’s conveyed. Most of the videos that I like use the freedom of the internet to do something more than make something a bit more shocking, gross or filthy. I also don’t like the way this video is described “Keira Knightley stars in this shocking new short film, directed by Joe Wright and brought to you by Women’s Aid – the UK’s domestic abuse charity” – I mean, it’s not a short film – it’s an advert. No matter how worthy the cause you are still being lied to and I don’t know, it just makes me cringe. But er, in anycase, probably a bit better than this approach taken in Australia.

What is perhaps more interesting is the way some of the styles of some of the more interesting videos are being appropriated into advertising. Check out Microsoft’s blatant rip off of the Oscar nominated I met the walrus speechnub. Here’s another go from Honda.

The thing that gets me about domestic violence is what you’re supposed to do when you know it’s happening to someone that you don’t know, e.g. the person upstairs. I’ve tried phoning one of those helplines before and amazingly they told me to do nothing, on the basis that in all likelihood I would probably make the situation worse. Makes you wonder how much domestic violence is witnessed and if there really is nothing you can do about it. Maybe there’s er, a nub in it.