Artful Conception #9: Carried

I realize I've posted on this before, but I don't think I did the topic justice - it's such an iconic image.  A tour through a collection of old books, movie posters and comic books quickly reveals how incredibly common this scene is: the beast or the he-man carrying the damsel in distress. 

Last time, I kind of speculated on why this image was so damn omnipresent, but I don't think I reached a satisfying answer.  Here's a few theories I've come up with.  Feel free to add your own.

A) The idyllic hero for men during these days was the ultra-masculine hulk, and their vision of woman was as helpless waifs.  The imagery simply corresponded to the male frame of mind, but to an extreme degree.

B) After WWII, men saw women begin to assert themselves in society.  Indeed, they had filled a lot of the vacant jobs while the boys were overseas.  This may have been subconsciously emasculating, and the totally defenseless beauty in the arms of a brawny beast may have been subliminally comforting.

C) Young men were a primary target audience for the books, movies and comics that featured this imagery.  Boys have a naturally fear of the opposite sex (whether they'd like to admit it or not), until they get older and less awkward.  The weak, often lifeless, maiden was what these young lads wanted to see - as opposed to an intimidating woman of power.

Anyway, whatever the reason, to prove my point here's several hundred images to demonstrate my point. I think the sheer volume of examples silences even the most stubborn doubters out there.  The "carry image" is, like it or not, an iconic part of our pop culture history. 

Click on mosaics to enlarge.


  1. I like your theories and would like to throw out another:

    D) It's an acceptable way to have the pair touching each other in a very intimate way. Especially true for monster on maiden action. So, I guess what I'm saying is disguised sex.

  2. Some guys/monsters/beings/robots sure don't worry about grabbing a handful. Woohoo!

  3. I think there are a lot of women who like the idea of being swept away (by a he-man, not a monster anyway).

  4. I think it works for both genders: the man, as he becomes the hero, or saves the damsel in distress (and if it's a monster, it becomes more threatening, perhaps), but the hero comes to her aid, and rescues her. For the woman's mind, it's the hero or the white knight rescuing them from their work-a-day life, or subliminally the monster, her parents, crummy jobs, bad spouses, and so forth. It's also a romanticize form, maybe even cliched (you hardly ever see any heroes carting off any, let's say bevvy females--it's the small framed damsels), and also for a lot of this genre, just sheer escapism.

  5. Wow. Pretty thorough. I've been doing something similar at http://themagicwhistle.blogspot.com/search/label/DYING%20VICTIM

    There's also the 'Wrong Side of the Art' blog which has a lot of movie posters with this theme.