As reported by pretty much everyone on the interwebs, as well as the good folks at PosterWire (who I assume will look kindly on my borrowing their images for educational purposes and duly crediting them), Emma Watson has been given a digital breast job in the Imax ads for this summer's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Take a look: There are other minor differences between the images, including the way Watson's hair is blowing in the creepy wind, but the focus has understandably been on the fact that the art has slightly inflated her breasts. This is genuinely disturbing, and not merely because Watson is only 17. It's happened several times before.
• Keira Knightley's breasts were augmented via computer for King Arthur, presumably to distract viewers from realizing the film they were about to see was bad. Observe: • A few years ago the British version of GQ digitally slimmed down Kate Winslet's legs, which if you ask me is 19 kinds of stupid. Did they think she/we/anyone wouldn't notice or care? • Then there's the case of The Girl Next Door, which aside from being a deeply flawed film (you should never think it is a good idea to sleep with a porn star), also tweaked Elisha Cuthbert's body for the DVD release. I have a hard time believing Cuthbert actually has a problem with this, though, since her film and TV performances all seem to rquire her to be wet and/or sweaty and running, while Watson just seems like a nice girl trying to make some money and do a few family movies. Anyway, here's the evidence: • And then there's the "Angel" Season 2 DVD set, the cover of which features Charisma Carpenter with a clearly altered chest. The kicker is that the same photo is used on the inside of the package, unaltered, where Carpenter's top is blue instead of purple and her breasts aren't enhanced with Photoshop or whatever program these people use to make fake boobs. (I couldn't find the unaltered photo online, so just trust me. Or go buy it.) Check it out: So why the mammary mayhem? I asked rhetorically back at the beginning whether whoever made the decision to digitally give these women bigger breasts or trimmer legs would think they would be able to fool us, but I don't actually think that's quite the problem. It's not whether the images were designed to completely deceive the viewing public, but the fact that we as a public ask for and often demand these images. On the surface it seems like all these images are representative of an industry that sells sex, when in reality it sells manufactured sex; the artifice isn't a byproduct, it's the defining characteristic. Winslet's appearance in GQ is another example of how more literate men's magazines are attempting to straddle the line between literate content and straight-up titillation. The softcore masturbation rags aimed at young male teens and bored college students — FHM, Maxim, etc. — are even more upfront about how they integrate the lie with the truth. Their breezy tones talk down to their audience even as they offer up airbrushed women, lips parted and legs akimbo as they're bent over chairs/stools/whatever's nearby, in openly fictional service to their readership. We ask for these things. You know? Sure, you and I don't, not an individual level, but we do. We as a people do. So I'm disappointed that it's happened again for Emma Watson, and I'm sure she's somewhere between pissed and mortified, since being a female teen on the world stage has to be a punishing existence. But, really, is anyone surprised?