Wednesday, April 8, 2009


William Klein's 1966 film Who Are You Polly Magoo? is a brilliant and scathing look at fashion, media, and identity. The film opens with an avant-garde fashion show featuring dangerously sharp, sheet metal haute coture. One model shrieks "I'm wounded" as she is sliced open by her rigid costume. The designer, who is lauded for "recreating woman" doesn't flinch as he orders assistants to cover her cut with pancake makeup. The women in the film are interchangeable props engaged in a skin-game of continuous masquerade. 

Supermodel, Polly Magoo is singled out by a TV crew shooting a reality documentary series called "Who Are You?" The mostly male production team dictates and directs a story which portrays Polly as a vapid Cinderella, despite their claims to want a "self-portrait." The main interviewer Grégoire Pecque, probes and prods Polly through a battery of psychological tests and diagnoses her as both frigid and narcissistic. She is manipulated by the crew as well as the designers and photographers who want to shape her image. She is a creation of male fantasy and the director of the TV show even doubts her existence.

In her own defense, Polly says " You want to know who I am. Sometimes I wonder. They take my picture every day and every way. They've taken millions of pictures, and every time they take one there's a little less of me left. So what'll I have left when they're done?" 

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