Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Hollywood sure loves cutting women’s heads off

It’s not revolutionary to say that Hollywood treats women like objects. Whether it’s a fraternity sex romp or a summer camp slasher movie, female characters are regularly reduced to the point of being faceless, interchangeable parts for our protagonists and villains to interact with. Not surprisingly, things only get worse in the promotional materials, where Hollywood producers really show their passion for dehumanization by ruthlessly cutting women’s heads off. Instead of using a guillotine, they usually opt for a much cleaner and simpler cropping tool.


For the past couple years, stand up comedian Marcia Belsky has made it her mission to draw attention to these collections of female legs and torsos that regularly adorn film posters, TV promotions, book covers, and advertisements. For the most part, these headless women are either facing away from the camera or happen to be leaning just out of frame, but they are almost universally scantily clad. The subtext here is pretty clear: Their minds don’t matter. Their personalities don’t matter. These women are here simply to be looked at and desired.

The most damning examples of this trend come from the collections of character specific posters, like the ones for the 2003 film Confidence:


Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia, and Edward Burns each get to show the majority of their faces in their poster. But Rachel Weisz— the second billed performer in the film —is reduced to being a nose, mouth, chin, and a pair of breasts. Even female-centric films like A League Of Their Own are sold to mass audiences as “The Pretty Legs Movie Featuring Some Red Heels She Might Wear!”


Since Headless Women Of Hollywood has been gaining more attention recently, Belsky has been getting a lot of messages from (surprise!) angry dudes online. Luckily, most of these trolls are so dense that they end up proving the point of this critical exercise without even realizing it.


Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com


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About the author

Dan Neilan

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Have Fun — Will Travel.