Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Bum Cleavage and TfL

I couldn't believe it when I was told today that Transport for London had banned a poster for the play  'My Night With Reg' for a bit of bum cleavage. Really? So I had to look it up and here's the offending image.

'My Night With Reg' has just opened at the Apollo Theatre and I'm seeing it next week (I saw it's run at the Donmar last year and am going back for more).  The poster is of Lewis Reeves who plays the painter-cum-barman in the play who Julian Ovenden tries to seduce in the later stages of the play (and we see a lot more of Mr Ovenden).

OK, there's some bum cleavage in the poster but we've all got a bum and we all know what bums look like so what's the problem? It's not as if it's sexualised in some way (unlike many posters of scantily clad and suggestive images of women). Apparently, the version of the poster that's been approved has the 'Ziggy Stardust' album cover slightly further back to cover the bum entirely. Does that make it a bit more suggestive?

At least it's nice to know that Transport for London appears to have no problem with male nudity by allowing these posters for Bulk Powders with the hashtag #revealyourself. The man in question is clearly naked but his crotch is pixelated and there's a man and a woman looking at him askance as he gets off the train. But is there any real difference between the two posters? Which one - if either - is more sexualised or suggestive?

I find the #revealyourself poster more irritating by imposing an image of 'male perfection' on tube travellers, the vast majority of whom share little with the model used in the poster (I speak from personal experience here). A hairless musculature that bears little resemblance to most men probably isn't a good look or a good message in overall health terms.

This Sunday also appears to be the annual 'take your trousers off on the tube' day which TfL does nothing to stop. If you take your trousers off then you're supposed to wear underpants of whatever sort you prefer so long as they're not too tight or revealing. It's odd what turns up when you search for a poster being used on the tube network. It's also odd to think about who makes decisions on images on the tube network.

Anyway I'm looking forward to seeing 'My Night With Reg' next week - it's what the term 'bittersweet' was invented for and will have special meaning to anyone who lived through the '80s. I did.

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