why was jennifer lawrence excluded from 'mockingjay part 2' posters in israel?
The actress’s absence from Jerusalem Hunger Game ads is just a small part of a larger issue of female representation.
It's ironic that The Hunger Games explores the challenges of iconography and representation, since the posters for the feminist franchise have been modified to appease the more conservative residents of Israeli cities Jerusalem and Bnei Brak. According to Haaretz, the posters now exclude Jennifer Lawrence's character Katniss and her iconic bow and arrow, leaving only the fiery mockingjay symbol for public viewing.
Modification of movie posters in Israeli cities is not a new issue for Israeli PR companies. The orthodox populations of these cities have a long history of vandalizing immodest movie posters. The release of Tarzan in 1999 caused uproar when his skimpy (animated) loincloth appeared on movie posters. The ads were altered quickly to show a Tarzan with a larger loincloth than what appears in the G-rated Disney film.
And while neither the municipal governments of Jerusalem or Bnei Brak have official policies against images of females in public spaces, PR companies are conscious of the populations that live there and the vandalism that they commit. Liron Suissa, the VP of the Israeli-based PR team responsible for the posters said, "Unfortunately we are subject to unofficial coercion that forces us to be more careful. We have had endless vandalization, and clients prefer not to take the chance. We allow everything, but we recommend hanging another visual when necessary. The decision is the client's."
This is part of an ongoing debate around censorship and modesty in the region. Two years ago, the Yerushalmim movement which calls for a pluralistic and inclusive city legally won the inclusion of women's images in advertisements on buses. But, this victory does not help promote more inclusive imagery of women in the rest of the city. Movie posters for Sex and the City omitted women completely. Even Wes Anderson's family-friendly indie hit Moonrise Kingdom took a hit when little Suzy Bishop's miniskirt was altered to conceal her knees.
The controversy around The Hunger Games posters presents interesting questions around the globalization of advertising and media. As the fight for more equality in Hollywood ramps up, how can these gains be translated to a global stage while still remaining respectful to local culture?
Text Hana Beach
Photography Peter Foley via EPA