Calendars, particularly those of the Italian tire company Pirelli, are renown for featuring supermodels in suggestive attire.
But now the Pirelli Calendar is trying to make a “revolutionary” statement of some sort by no longer featuring pretty supermodels looking good. Instead, the company went with a random assortment of famous women not posing so pleasantly.
The picture that’s gained the most attention by far is Amy Schumer sitting half-naked with a coffee cup in her hand.
Besides Schumer, the rest of the calendar features dour female celebrities mean mugging the camera — and not like any kind of effective marketing technique.
But that’s the point. In order to make revolutionary art, the calendar photographer Annie Leibovitz sought to show “empowered” women doing empowering things — which apparently includes having a cup of coffee while showing off your jelly rolls.
The headlines from left-leaning writers were predictably effusive: “Heroic Women In Strong Poses;” “Amy Schumer’s Amazing Nude Pic Proves She Is The Realest Person Ever;” “Amy Schumer and Serena Williams’s Nude Photoshoot Is a Big Middle Finger to Trolls.”
Even though many media types gushed over the photos, it’s highly unlikely that Pirelli’s latest calendar will sell well or successfully promote any of the company’s products. How anyone would want to buy a product that’s adorned with more than a few bizarre images of old women grimacing is incomprehensible.
What the new calendar amounts to is corporate-subsidized modern art. Instead of art that celebrates any type of higher ideal, meaningful sense of conflict or deep reflection on the state of human existence, Leibovitz’s photo set is a rather ugly presentation of modern-day banality dressed up as heroism.
The calendars of yesteryear were probably not exactly on the level of Van Gogh, but they did evince a belief in an ideal of beauty. But with the contemporary values of wanting to make ugly beautiful and beautiful ugly, that traditional ideal is being put in the great waste basket of history.
The women Pirelli highlighted this year were not merely portrayed as who they are, but as the new icons of feminine beauty.
It’s not too surprising that Annie Leibovitz would be involved in such a project. A significant portion of her career has been devoted to making images that were designed to shock the sensibilities of traditionalists. The iconic image of John Lennon wrapped around Yoko Ono. The barebacked photo of a 15-year-old, still innocent Miley Cyrus. A nude covershoot of a pregnant Demi Moore.
These are some of her more famous works, and they’ve deliberately poked at the eye of more conservative sensibilities.
It’s interesting to note that Leibovitz had a very close relationship with the infamous left-wing philosopher and self-styled intellectual revolutionary Susan Sontag. Sontag is most famous for declaring western civilization as the “cancer of human history” and sought to undermine many of its values and traditions through her writing.
In some ways, a significant portion of western culture since the conclusion of World War II has sought to do that very objective. Today we reap the fruits of that “success” as we endure a degraded culture that sees fit to promote ugliness as a virtue.
What’s funny is that one of the core claims for the calendar makers is that they were creating something revolutionary. It is anything but. There’s nothing rebellious in stoking the vanity of some of the wealthiest and most powerful women in the world. There is no institutionalized patriarchy that was rattled to the core by Schumer’s bemused glance.
In fact, as enthusiastic outlets noted, it was directed at Internet trolls — a much-despised group with virtually no power. These are the elites of our society saying they are oppressed and revolting against the imaginary patriarchy of insignificant plebeians. (RELATED: Amy Schumer Is The Perfect Spokeswoman For Gun Control)
There is also no serious conflict or struggle implied in this art — an important trait of western culture. For example, “The Odyssey” told the story of a man who had to struggle against terrifying monsters and spiteful gods to make it home in order to slaughter bad-mannered suitors. That’s an epic tale of conflict and overcoming.
In Schumer’s case, a rich and acclaimed comedian stares out at a society that refuses to censor online commenters who say mean things about her.
Talk about a real conflict.
Overall, the calendar fails to do one thing it sets out to do: be revolutionary. It is instead reaffirms the views of a privileged caste against the criticism of a few remaining holdouts. You could say it so tied with the institutions that dominate our society that it becomes reactionary.
And more importantly, it becomes a dull testament to the narcissism and insularity of contemporary feminists.