Men Who Posed as Wife Beaters Sue Over Wife-Beater Portrayal

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In late 2002, New York City ran an anti-domestic-abuse ad campaign that pictured men behind bars with captions such as “Successful executive. Devoted churchgoer. Abusive husband.” The four male models who agreed to be pictured as the abusers are now suing the city, claiming that the ads have given people the impression that the models actually were abusers.

The men, who were paid $1500-2000 for posing in the ads, claim that the city had agreed that the ads would be posted only in buses and subways and would only run for about five weeks. They allege that the ads in fact stayed up for nearly a year and appeared in other locations, including police stations and charities. The lawsuit alleges that because the ads stayed up so long, friends of the models became convinced that the men had actually been arrested for “women beating.” And if you ask me, showing that a model’s friend was confused is pretty conclusive evidence. The models’ lawyer, Jeffrey Pagano, called the ad campaign “a public service that’s gone sideways,” which frankly doesn’t sound all that bad, and that it had “turned into a horror show,” which sounds worse but also does not sound all that true. Among the unknown models now seeking $1 million each in damages is a guy named “Triple Edwards,” which until now I thought was some kind of ice skating maneuver.

The city said it was “not privy” to any time limit on the ads, but has agreed to take down any of the ads that are still up. City officials have also pointed out that the men did after all agree to be portrayed as domestic abusers.

This is an interesting development that movie studios, among others, probably need to be aware of. For example, “The Passion of the Christ” has been running so long now that a lot of models’ friends are probably convinced that those actors really helped kill Jesus. And that could cause all kinds of problems.