Lady Pork: The Other Other White Meat?

March 30th, 2010 12:39 pm by Kelly Garbato

Firstly, a big, shiny hello to everyone arriving here from The F-Word! (And can I just say how stoked I am to see yet another vegan feminist guest-blogging on yet another kickass feminist blog? More, please!) In addition to the posts singled out by Amy, you might also enjoy browsing the Intersections post category. And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, check out this list of vegan/vegetarian bloggers who regularly discuss the intersections of human and nonhuman oppressions. It’ll keep you occupied at least through the summer, I tell you what.

So. On to today’s vegan feminist WTF. While searching for a related image last night, I stumbled upon a rather disturbing poster for the movie Saw IV:

Saw IV Poster 01

Shot in tones of black, gray and red, the poster is rather macabre (and quite fitting for a horror flick). Highlighted by a dim ray of light, in the middle of the poster sits a masked figure. She is confined to a torture device of some sort. Seemingly homemade, the instrument – similar in shape to a small chair – looks as though it was cobbled together from pieces of various mechanical devices, including a push mower. There are knobs, tanks, wheels and blades galore. The victim sits facing forward, her arms confined to her sides, ankles chained to the chair.

Masked, robed and photographed from behind, the prisoner’s gender is impossible to determine. However, the figure does sport some obvious trappings of femininity, including knee-high, black stiletto boots (“fuck me boots,” if you will) and tight, black stockings or leggings. The robe is red, possibly velvet. Clearly, the audience is to assume that the victim is a woman (or one very “emasculated” man).

Oh, and the mask? It’s of a pig. Holy woman-as-meat / meat-as-woman meme, Catwoman!

Having only watched the first installment of the Saw franchise, this poster initially sent my head reeling re: its possibly significance, if any. Luckily, Wiki has the answers (some of them, anyhow):

That evening, Rigg is attacked in his home; upon awakening, a videotape informs him that Matthews is still alive, with ninety minutes to save himself, with Hoffman’s life at stake as well. He finds Brenda (Sarain Boylan), a female pimp, chained to a chair with a pig mask covering her face. The first test, “see what I see,” is for him to leave her there; he ignores the message and ends up triggering a device to begin peeling her scalp off. He manages to free her, but she attacks him; she had been told that she would be arrested if Rigg saved her unless she killed him first. He throws her into a mirror and leaves; her corpse is later found by police.

And, from the character description:

Brenda was a prostitute who appeared in Saw IV as a victim in Daniel Rigg’s game. Brenda was placed in a machine designed to tear her scalp from her head and Rigg was instructed to simply walk away from her as she was not worth saving. After her scalp was partially torn away, Rigg managed to save her but Brenda then attempted to kill him, instructed by Jigsaw that if she didn’t Rigg would send her to jail. Rigg overpowered Brenda and threw her into a mirror. She was later found dead.

I suppose the overriding purpose of the pig mask is to conceal the “scalping” contraption, but one has to ask…why a consumable (i.e., “food”) animal? Why not Ronald Regan or Freddy Krueger instead? Is Jigsaw (or his torture porn confederate) making a statement about women who “pimp out” other women? (e.g., Such people are “not worth saving,” much like “worthless,” “dirty,” “gluttonous” nonhuman animals such as pigs.) Or is the pig mask merely a handy prop for upping the film’s shock value? (Meat and corpses and slaughterhouses, oh my!)

There’s a vegan feminist analysis lurking here somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I can find it. Perhaps someone who’s actually seen the film(s) can clue me in?

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5 Responses to “Lady Pork: The Other Other White Meat?”

  1. veganprimate Says:

    Ugh. That’s all I can say. Ugh. The Saw movies are so ridiculously stupid. I can’t believe they’re up to IV already.

  2. Kelly Garbato Says:

    Saw VI came out in October 2009. For being filled with a bunch of creative types, Hollywood sometimes seems to be lacking in the creativity department.

  3. Amy Clare Says:

    Hi Kelly, thanks for linking back to my piece at The F Word!

    Just wanted to say hello, it’s good to see another vegan atheist feminist on the web! :oD *waves*

    I can’t really comment on the Saw poster, as I’ve never seen the films (torture porn ain’t my thing, oddly!), but I would say based on just looking at the image that it’s just woman-as-meat-as-woman, like you said. The pig represents meat, the boots represent female sexuality (as viewed from male perspective). Both are dispensable and can be toyed with and destroyed for pleasure.

    Yuck.

  4. Matthew Says:

    This isn’t the first instance of the pig mask in the Saw movies. It was connected to the Jigsaw Killer before it was put on Brenda: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jigsaw_Killer#Pig_mask

  5. Kelly Garbato Says:

    Thanks for the info, Matthew. I didn’t at all remember the mask from the first film!

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