Just saw the “Body Worlds” exhibit in Boston and was thoroughly disappointed by how the corpses were basically used as gimmicks to promote an ideological viewpoint that borders on fitspo. It pretends that its purpose is educational, positive, informative and “for your health”, but just like fitspo, there is nothing exceptionally educational about it, nothing that hasn’t been thoroughly covered in any number of non-corpse ways; I learned nothing I didn’t know before. I was, however, beat over the head with a bunch of tired old shaming bullshit.
It is also notably gender stereotyped/sexist, with only 2 females in the exhibit (vs maybe 10-12 males?), yet both of them were positioned as “dancers”. In a comment on this post (which does a pretty good job of describing the shallowness that I felt the exhibit exuded), someone wrote (about the female bodies in the exhibit):
Their backs were arched and hips positioned in overtly sexual ways, and their vulvas were simultaneously positioned away from the viewer’s path and accentuated with mirrors for people who wanted a certain angle. I’m sure some of this is exhibit availability and the disproportionality of female donors, but at a certain point it comes down to his assumptions about gender and beauty. Brilliant anatomist, but a shallow and patronizing artist.
What compels people to visit this kind of exhibit is that these were once real people. Yet, Body Worlds seems content to ignore that fact, never mentioning who these people were, why or how they died, what they were like - anything that would actually create a real, meaningful experience of empathy or connection. The only information that we get about these people, if anything, is if it was a Smoker, a Fatty, a Drinker or any other kind of Bad Choices Loser. Who cares who they were as people? That would distract from The Message. To quote the great philosopher Walter Sobchak, “No, we can’t do that, Dude. That fucks up the plan.”
From this article about the Body Worlds NYC show below:
"There’s a narrative and viewpoint taken with the ‘Body Worlds’ show," says Angelina Whalley, master planner of the exhibition.
There may be enough innards and posed bodies, but that narrative is not one of anatomy, says Whalley, a physician surrounded by brains shucked of their skulls and hearts plucked from their circulatory systems.
"Body Worlds," she says, is meant to be about how we move through life’s stresses, often emerging worse for them in the end.
"It is really my sincere goal to not raise a finger and say, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that,’" says Whalley, readying the exhibit for the opening. Yet after similar shows in other cities, she’s seen reports that visitors have pledged to stop smoking, exercise more and eat healthy. "It’s like a paradigm shift," she says.
You know who says “It is really my sincere goal to not raise a finger and say, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that’”? Someone whose sincere goal is to raise a finger and say, “Don’t do this, don’t do that.”
You would never know from the marketing and hype that this is not a show about anatomy, but narrative and viewpoint. Probably because it’s a narrative and viewpoint of a completely craven and cynical mentality.
As an example of manipulation techniques, especially using science and positions of authority to promote ideological messages, this exhibit *is* quite educational. Other than that, though, I’m afraid it’s just a bunch of moralizing bullshit that should not be supported in any way.