#ThrowbackThursday: John Ashcroft Covers the Spirit of Justice Statue’s Nudity, 2002

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Spirit of Justice statue, 2002 (Medieval POC Tumblr)

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Spirit of Justice statue, 2002 (Medieval POC Tumblr)

So this became weirdly relevant again: In 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft put up drapes (that cost $8,000) on the Spirit of Justice statue housed in the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Why? Ostensibly to make a better backdrop for television. What Ashcroft didn’t mention was that his head was generally centered in between Lady Justice’s nude breasts. Better backdrop, my ass.

Just yesterday, Rome’s Capitoline Museum covered up classical nude statues before a press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani occurred. There seems to be some confusion as to who and why this happened: Though the Iranian embassy asked that the statues be covered, neither Italy’s Culture Minister Dario Franceschini nor Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had been aware of the request.

An investigation into the matter is currently underway.

 

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All of the Oscar Acting Nominees Are White. WTF?

 

Oscars 2016 Best Actress Nominees (Reuters)

Oscars 2016 Best Actress nominees (Reuters)

Last week, the Oscar nominations were announced. Selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the winners will be revealed Feb. 28. But this year continued a disturbing trend that began last year: Not one of the nominees in any of the acting categories (Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor) were people of color (POC).

I use the word “disturbing” as it seems the Academy is determined to ignore stories and narratives that don’t fit within their very narrow worldview. It’s becoming increasingly clear that non-white stories are not only valuable (as we knew already), but make bank, both in terms of box office and in social influence. (See this past year’s examples of TV smash “Empire,” and movies “Straight Outta Compton” and “Dope.”) The Academy needs to wake up and see that rewarding diverse stories can only help their bottom line.

In terms of the numbers, here are some of the most recent POC nominees (counted if they didn’t win) and winners:

Best Actress:

Winner: Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball,” 2001)

Nominee: Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” 2012)

Best Actor:

Winner: Forest Whitaker (“The Last King of Scotland,” 2006)

Nominee: Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave,” 2013)

Best Supporting Actress:

Winner: Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave,” 2013)

Nominee: Taraji P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” 2008)

Best Supporting Actor:

Winner: Djimon Hounsou (“Blood Diamond,” 2006)

Nominee: Barkhad Abdi (“Captain Phillips,” 2013)

 

#ThrowbackThursday: Helmut Newton

"Saddle I, Paris (at the Hotel Lancaster), 1976," Helmut Newton

“Saddle I, Paris (at the Hotel Lancaster), 1976,” Helmut Newton

Earlier this week, I was talking with a friend about erotic photography, and remembered Helmut Newton. I used to be very into art and art history when I was younger, and Helmut Newton was, and still is, my favorite photographer.

Newton loved women, especially their power as it related to their sexuality. He often posed his subjects in BDSM-tinged scenes, and tended to highlight women’s’ curves. On charges that his work made him a chauvinist, he countered that he was a feminist. He might been one of the first vocal supporters of sex-positive feminism, years before it was cool.

The above photo is one of his most famous photographs. It was taken in 1976 in Paris, as part of his “Sleepless Nights” series, and created in 1984 as a gelatin silver print. It caused a scandal at the time, but since has taken its place in the 20th century canon.