Keira Knightley’s unedited, topless photo-shoot for ‘Interview Magazine’ boldly protested against photo-shopping after the unexplained enhancement of her breasts for promotional posters of “King Arthur”.
Despite the image’s controversy, the connotations (signifieds) of Knightley’s proud display of her unedited appearance (especially after her previous shoot with Interview Magazine – to the right) went a long way in highlighting the presented issue, and encouraging similar protests from other popular celebrities. Many related to Knightley’s stand-point, expressing strong beliefs of the media’s forcing these images and their unrealistic expectations onto media audiences. Knightley further clarified her protest, stating “I think Women’s bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame,” (Kat Brown 2014), and (Doug Sibor 2014) that it felt important to ‘send the message’ that shape isn’t important. Knightley’s stance on manipulated images of celebrities being pushed onto the public provoked much discussion and controversy in the media industry. In addition to the connotations of her photos launching discussion in relation to the perception, treatment, rights and responsibilities of men and women in the media, her further nude photo-shoot with Scarlett Johansson and fully clothed Tom Ford in 2006 further emphasised the gap in demands made of famous men and women in terms of utilising their sexuality both for publicity and in the roles they are asked to play as professional performers.
The image of Knightley in monochrome, wearing only pants and elbow-length gloves (denotations) represents her open opposition to the media’s photo-shopping of her own, and other celebrities’, images and the further projection of these images upon said celebrities’ audiences. Knightley’s bold statement was made with the intention of highlighting the importance of self-acceptance and to show defiance in the face of images in the media which project discriminatory and unrealistic ideals of body-shape and appearance through celebrities.
However, without this knowledge of Knightley’s intent in advertising the photo, the deeper meaning and connotations of the image could have been lost due to our own preconceived ideologies (mostly encouraged by the often scandalous nature of these types of images in the media) could lead us to read the image as merely another celebrity stunt. As an audience accustomed to the usual antics of celebrities within the media, Knightley’s deeply important connotations could have been lost due to the ingrained-connotations we have of images such as this in the media and their usual motives of advertisement, appeal and self-promotion.
- Brown Kat, 2014, ‘Keira Knightley: topless shoot was photoshop protest’, The Telegraph, 8th of November 2014, viewed 17th of March, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/11216945/Topless-shoot-was-Photoshop-protest-says-Keira-Knightley.html
- Sibor Doug, 2014, ‘Keira Knightley Poses Topless to Protest Photoshop’, Complex, 8th of November 2014, viewed 17th of March, http://au.complex.com/pop-culture/2014/11/keira-knightley-topless-photos-to-protest-photoshop
Feature Image: http://www.clevver.com/tag/interview-magazine/