Move Over, Dove. “Orange Is The New Black” Celebrates Real Women
... [Creator Jenji Kohan] wanted a title sequence suggesting the show would tell many incarcerated women’s stories, not just Piper’s. TCG’s solution was to photograph a full range of real women who had been in prison—from a most intimate, up-close, not typically TV-ready perspective, moles and all.
Michael Trim photographed nine women in New York, including Piper Kerman on whose memoir the series is based (she’s the blue-eyed one who blinks). In LA, Thomas Cobb photographed 52 women who he found via Homeboy Industries, an organization that helps the previously incarcerated and gang-involved redirect their lives with education and employment services, therapy, tattoo removal, and case management.
Bryman says, “Thomas directed each woman to visualize in their mind three emotive thoughts: Think of a peaceful place, think of a person who makes you laugh, and think of something that you want to forget. He apologized ahead of time for the last question but found it was incredibly effective in evoking a wide range of unfortunate memories.”
The women’s faces flash by in a sequence set to Spektor’s new single, “You’ve Got Time.” She sings over images of cuffed hands, fingerprints, and barbed wire—interspersed with haunting, never-airbrushed human close-ups—“The cage is full/Stay awake/In the dark, count mistakes.”
Says Bryman: “Thomas found this really interesting sweet spot of cropped compositions that would not necessarily reveal who the person was, but at the same time provide a portal into their soul through their eyes.” One woman with a smattering of little heart tattoos on her temple throws her head back laughing. Another has “ROCIO” inked like a mustache right under her nose. Some grin, some scowl, some have rhinestone studs in their cheeks. Eyebrows are un-groomed or over-groomed. Skin is pocked. There are visible under-eye bags, freckles, pimples, crows’ feet, lip hair.
This shouldn’t be radical, but it is. Though the dearth of “real women” in the media has long been blamed for generations of body-dysmorphic girls, the media rarely respond with positive change. Instagram’s popular “no-filter” hashtag garners points for amateur photographers, but the no-filter approach is unheard of when it comes to commercial TV.