So, back in the early days of science fiction, pulp magazines tended to feature garish covers with bug-eyed monsters, phallic spaceships, and -- especially on a magazine called STARTLING STORIES -- skimpily dressed spacewomen whose most striking feature tended to be the brass metal brassieres they wore. Yes, metal. As in cold, hard metal.
And especially this:
|No bonus extra sexual subtext |
on THIS cover.
Move along, pervert.
That particular trope, memorable as it was (and it was used by critics as an example of science-fiction's essential juvenile/puerile nature for decades), faded away after awhile. It sometimes appeared on "women warrior" covers for fantasy novels, though that seems to have dropped in frequency as well. A few notable exceptions include the "Slave Girl Leia" costume from RETURN OF THE JEDI (but then, the whole Star Wars Trilogy -- There can be only one! There was only one! -- was a callback/homage to the old SF pulps), and, in a slightly different design, the ludicrous chain mail bikini worn by Marvel Comics' version of Red Sonja. (There are also the occasional form-fitting spacesuits or power-armor, but at least they're not bare skin in space!)
So we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the "brass brassiere" cliche has, for the most part, vanished into the dustbin of history. Right?
Well, not quite. The BBC television series Da Vinci's Demons (shown on the Starz cable channel in the US) recently put out some publicity stills for the show's second season:
It's official: Brass brassieres are back!
From what I've read about Da Vinci's Demons, the show's first season played a bit fast and loose with historical timelines regarding what happened when, or with the lifespans of various historical characters. (One character depicted as being alive to interact with Da Vinci died, in real life, about thirteen years earlier.) But they weren't egregiously anhistorical.
For the second season, it sounds like the show's writers are now turning more towards the Holy-Shit-These-Are-GREAT-Drugs! scriptwriting model made popular by ABC's Sleepy Hollow, wherein the historical record is turned inside-out, dressed up in a tutu, and painted in day-glo colors. (See: Zombie George Washington.) Da Vinci will discover the Americas and have a run-in with the Incan Empire. Yes, really. One assumes from the photo above that the brass-brassiered beauties are supposed to be the legendary Amazons, or that Da Vinci stumbled onto an Incan fashion-model photo shoot, or, oh fuck, I have no fucking idea what the fuck is going on in that photo, just that it makes me go "GHAAA! MAKE IT STOP, MAKE IT STOP!"