Soon to be causing an international uproar at your local multiplex: Warner Bros.' teen comedy What a Girl Wants. Tee-hee.
The studio has, like, jumped on the PC bandwagon, doctoring a so-called controversial poster of star Amanda Bynes. Promos for the movie originally had the teen, dressed in a stars-and-stripes tank top, standing between two British royal guards and flashing the peace sign. No way!
Fearful that the peace symbol could be misconstrued while war rages in the Middle East and opinions clash at home, the studio airbrushed the offensive digits. Now, print ads running in the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers feature Bynes with her arm at her side. Changes were not made to billboards and bus banners already in place, because there was not enough time. The movie opens this weekend.
"We did not want to add any political overtones to a completely nonpolitical movie," a Warners rep told the Washington Post. Gotcha.
Warners also says that after the film opens, the beefeaters flanking Bynes will be replaced by review blurbs.
In the movie, Bynes plays Daphne Reynolds, a stylish teen who's got everything a girl could want--except a dad. Daphne impulsively jets off to London to find the sperm donor who ditched her mother 17 years ago. As it turns out, Daddy Dearest is a titled politician (thank god he's rich and not some lying lowlife). Now Daphne must decide if she should change herself to fit in with father's snooty crowd or maybe (hope, hope) he'll accept her for who she is.
That clears up how audiences might have confused this G-rated fluff feature with a political indictment of the administration's policies.
Given the backlash against activist-minded celebrities there is a shred of validity to Warners' concerns--though the marketing decision could also be considered a well-timed promotional tactic to draw attention to an otherwise unremarkable movie. Studios, networks and record labels are all being ultra-careful to appear to the right of impartial for fear of alienating audiences and, more importantly, losing money--despite pleas from the Screen Actors Guild to avoid a return to McCarthy-era retaliations.
Martin Sheen may have been the first to suffer financially for his antiwar stance. Visa allegedly pulled a promo starring the TV prez and his son after viewers complained (the credit card company denied the cancelation had any political overtones).
Next, Sean Penn claimed he was unfairly dropped from a movie called Why Men Shouldn't Marry after he traveled to Baghdad on a fact-finding mission. Then, Natalie Maines' Bush-bashing speech in London affected Dixie Chick record sales and radio play after American listeners objected. And finally, Susan Sarandon's keynote speech at the United Way of Tampa was nixed after the not-for-profit organization received complaints about her political views. (Lord knows what's going to happen to Michael Moore after his Oscar tirade.)
According to the studio, Bynes, 16, was tipped off to the tweaked posters before they were released and had no objections. She currently stars opposite Jennie Garth in the WB's What I Like About You and was last seen on the big screen opposite Frankie Muniz in 2002's Big Fat Liar.