Because beating up women is not supposed to be telegenic

ABC News reminded me why I stay the hell away from network “news” shows. They’re shocked, shocked that a PSA on domestic violence shows Keira Knightley getting beaten up in a nonglamorous way. After showing excerpts of the ad with their own voiceover to obscure the message of the ad itself, they cut to a rich old man saying that he and his rich-old-man-identified friends in the advertising industry feel that the ad clearly went too far and turned off its audience. He suggests that the ad would be much more effective if it omitted the long take of Knightley on the floor being kicked repeatedly by the abusive boyfriend, and just cut to the man’s face (!) while he was kicking her, showing the violence by implication.

What the…?! What would it mean to be turned off by this ad? Would people start ignoring their friends’ pleas for help? Would otherwise non-violent men beat up their partners just because they’re pissed at not being able to identify with the starring role in this PSA? Or would it mean not being quite as able to be turned on by fantasies of nonconsensual violence?

The two people who actually know anything about domestic violence (much of their screen time taken up by large chunks of silent establishing shot) tell the reporter that people have to confront the reality of men beating the crap out of women, and that when they run strong PSAs like this calls to hotlines increase. Which stands to reason — a woman who’s been stuck looking at her own bruises in the mirror (or at those of a friend) really isn’t going to be grossed out or turned off by seeing a picture of someone fake-kicking an actress.

But wait, it gets worse. Maybe PSAs that make people uncomfortable are a trend, a trend that needs to be stopped. There’s a PSA out there where someone falls in a kitchen and gets hurt. Oh, no. There’s even a PSA where a child actor appears to be sad and shedding real tears! Won’t someone think of the children and stop these evil truthtellers?

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