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Mag's Photo Spread Portrays Female Suicides

What is the deal with our cultural death fetish?

Vice Magazine's "Women in Fiction" issue has a photo spread portraying women authors offing themselves like this one below which has a model re-enacting the suicide of Sylvia Plath.

But this isn't just some random pic. This is supposed to be selling clothes. And reportedly the magazine points out that the tights the model is wearing were made by a designer who hanged herself. Seriously.

Now there's been a bit of an uproar over this so Vice has quietly and quickly deleted it from their website but it's still in their magazine. They put out a statement defending it while issuing one of those 'sorry if you're offended' apologies.

“Last Words” is a fashion spread featuring models reenacting the suicides of female authors who tragically ended their own lives. It is part of our 2013 Fiction Issue (http://www.vice.com/magazine/20/6), one that is entirely dedicated to female writers, photographers, illustrators, painters, and other contributors.

The fashion spreads in VICE magazine are always unconventional and approached with an art editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one. Our main goal is to create artful images, with the fashion message following, rather than leading.

“Last Words” was created in this tradition and focused on the demise of a set of writers whose lives we very much wish weren’t cut tragically short, especially at their own hands. We will no longer display “Last Words” on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended.

—The Editors
Yeah, they apologize if their attempt to make suicide sexy to teens offended you.

*subhead*Sexy suicide.*subhead*

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Mark Duch said...

In their defense, they did sort of inform you of the content of the magazine by bluntly naming said magazine after the opposite of virtue.

/Just sayin'...

Pomeranian Catholic said...

Art should always be didactic and geared toward a natural, popular aesthetic. "Art for art's sake" is a stinking mound of bull poop, and that's exactly what this photo spread is.

Suzanne Carl said...

Just another slide down the the slippery slope. I've always wondered why the mentally ill writers, especially the female ones, are the most popular. Why is it better to be a deranged writer than a healthy one? This is a more modern phenomena than most people realize. Prior to the second half of the 19th century, the self-destructive were not necessarily encouraged with publishing contracts. So here we see the logical end. We want our children to read these works, and emulate their writing styles. So the logical next step is to emulate their fashions and their lives. There is so much worth reading out there, can't we just get rid of Sylvia Plath and all of her ilk? At least for the adolescent girls?

JOB said...

"Art should always be didactic and geared toward a natural, popular aesthetic"

Strictly didactic? Predominantly didactic? Proportionately didactic?

The reason I ask is - didactic art (Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress is a good example - and has hung around because it is such a good example of didactic art) tends to be boring and superficial. Yvor Winters has a good response to such sentiments: make the art a matter of delight first and foremost - even make what we learn through the art a matter of delight. The artist must strike a balance between denotation - the literal meaning of the work - and the connotative - what the work suggests to the imagination. Without it, you will wind up with more of the sort of thing depicted above.

Flannery O'Connor noted that pornography is the ultimate expression of sentimentality - and sentimentality is the other side of the didactic coin. Read Pilgrim's Progress and you'll see didacticism and sentimentality measuring the main character Christian's stride.

No, I think the aesthetic has to be more than "popular" - unless by popular you mean one which appeals to the whole "Globe" - that is to both the aristocrats in the audience and to the groundlings.


Pomeranian Catholic said...

"No, I think the aesthetic has to be more than "popular" - unless by popular you mean one which appeals to the whole "Globe" - that is to both the aristocrats in the audience and to the groundlings."

That is what I mean. Art must be first and foremost didactic, but it must do so by capturing and presenting the world in all its subtle and intricate beauty. It must be a multilayered cake; enjoyable, filling, and deep, with a clear purpose and a decorated and inviting exterior.

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