It is a well-known fact that public service announcements and calls to action are supposed to be shocking. The more edgy and startling they are, the more impactful they will be. However, sometimes the shock value can also compromise a powerful message.
Perhaps that is what happened with renowned artist and activist aleXsandro Palombo with his latest photo series, "No Woman is Immune from Domestic Violence."
The astounding project aims to raise awareness about domestic violence and features famous women with black eyes and bruises. The disfigured celebrities — Photoshopped to appear as victims of physical abuse — include Kim Kardashian, Angelina Jolie, Kendall Jenner, Miley Cyrus, Emma Watson, Kristen Stewart, Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow.
“The biggest accomplice of violence is the silence, a silence which every year kills or causes permanent disability more than diseases or accident,” the artist explained in a press release. “Domestic violence is a social cancer that knows no boundaries nor social status, it can affect anyone, whether you're an ordinary person or a celebrity. To defeat him you need to use the antidote of culture by educating and raising awareness on respect and equality.”
The message of the campaign is really commendable, but ironically, all the images included in the series were used and edited without the celebrities' permission.
“It's unethical. It would have had more power had they consented because it would be sending a much more powerful message,” domestic violence researcher Professor Kerry Carrington told ABC. “If they consented they would be wanting to vicariously put themselves in the shoes of women who suffer from domestic violence.”
Truth be told, Photoshopping bruises and black eyes on images on female celebs without their consent greatly weakens the message behind this campaign.
“I think there was a good motivation behind it, but domestic violence is also about control and power and if you're not seeking the consent of using the image that way, it's sending a bad message,” she added.
Palombo’s campaign includes the slogan “Life can be a fairytale, if you break the silence” and definitely has the potential to resonate with the female victims, since most women who experience domestic violence are too ashamed to come forward.
However, using images of female actresses and models – many of whom may have suffered abuse – without their authorization is exactly opposite of what this campaign apparently wants to promote.
On the other hand, Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner, both featured in the campaign with black eyes and split lips, have reportedly “issued warnings” to the artist as neither of them had signed off on their images being part of the initiative.
Kardashian has publicly made abuse claims against her first husband Damon Thomas who she married at the age of 19 in 2000, while Thomas has repeatedly denied the claims.