Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Women and Planes

My attention was drawn recently to, an outfit that produces calendars and live events built around the combination of attractive young ladies, dressed and styled for a 1940s look, posing with restored military airplanes of that era.

The photography on the site is conventional and mostly competent, if a bit cliched. Some of the poses are awkward, and the Warbird Pinup photographers are not as adept at flattering the models as, for example, the guys at Sports Illustrated showed themselves to be when using similar WWII aircraft as props: Of interest at present, though, is not the merits of the particular photography but the whole concept of pairing young women with old planes.

The babe-and-machine shot is nothing new, and there are whole magazines such as Easyriders,, filled with this genre. Scantily clad women also have a special history with World War II aircraft, having been a popular theme in nose art painted by servicemen during the period. I understand the appeal of photos of young women and of photos of old planes or other beautiful machines, but not really the combination. As a fashion accessory, airplanes are not easy to wear well. Women draped over planes almost always end up in positions that look uncomfortable and unnatural, or else they have no relationship to the plane at all and just happen to be sharing the frame. The women don't do much for the attractiveness of the planes, either, assuming anybody is even looking at the planes. Actually I've never seen a photo of a woman and a plane, or a motorcycle or car or whatever, that really works as a photo that is even as good as the sum of its parts. Not one. I can't really even envision what one would look like.

The juxtaposition does, of course, raise interesting psychological questions about just exactly why guys like to look at pictures of cars, planes, and bikes. But maybe it's best not to go there.

This doesn't seem to bother the following of Easyriders or Warbird Pinups, however. They must figure: it's got a chick, it's got a cool ride, it's all good. Never mind whether they go together well. Hey, could I get a scoop of ice cream on my pizza?

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