This post first appeared on Monday, March 16, 2009
“She bends over, exposing her ample cleavage.”
I see that line, or some variation thereof, FAR too often in the first fifteen pages of scripts I read – a completely gratuitous cleavage shot. There are a lot of aspiring screenwriters out there in need of cold showers. Sex and sexy girls aren’t bad – just make sure there’s a reason you’re getting your hot-bodied police detective to parade around in her Victoria’s Secrets.
Ironically, I get the sense that a lot of writers put scenes like this in as a way of claiming they’re writing strong female characters. If a woman uses her assets cunningly to distract and manipulate a man, she’s got to be smart, right?
Wrong. We see right through that, and usually the actress will too. In fact, it might even appear degrading to the characters – both the one doing the flashing and the one being flashed. Sometimes that’s exactly what the scene needs and if it serves a function, go for it.
But if your only thought here is “BOOBIES!” your reader is just going to roll his eyes and call that a clean strike.
And in case you’re putting this in there to make sure that your lead actress is stunning, ask yourself this: when was the last time Hollywood ever cast an ugly girl in the lead?