She's bare, and she "looks eight"

SyFy's new "Caprica" campaign is scary for all the wrong reasons

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published September 30, 2009 3:31PM (EDT)

The girl, all tousled dark hair, casts a sultry glance over her nude shoulder. She grasps a bright red apple that bears one large bite mark. She has large eyes and full cheeks. She looks all of 12 years old.

Great timing there, SyFy Network -- leaking your provocative early poster for the hotly anticipated “Battlestar Galactica” prequel “Caprica” the very week that the entertainment community has gone out of its way to support a man who raped a young teenager. 

The face and bare skin belong to Alessandra Torresani, a young veteran actress who is in fact a full 10 years older than that creepy ad would have you believe. She plays the series’ pivotal character Zoe, a rebellious, uniform-sporting 16-year old. It’s like Christmas came early, schoolgirl fans. 

When the image popped up on io9 yesterday, along with five other “Caprica” teaser images, fans were quick to voice their discomfort. “Is poster #1 for ‘Mackenzie Phillips: The Series’?” asked one user, while another complained “She looks like she's only eight years old!”

SyFy’s other proposed “Caprica” posters, though less overtly pandering to the perv demographic, nevertheless have a certain “Want some candy, little girl?” je ne sais quoi. In one, Zoe stares blankly into the middle distance, clutching a dandelion as its seeds waft into oblivion. In another, she rests in deep shadow, curled up and naked as a fetus.

It’s Torresani’s arc that will set in motion the Cylon uprising that formed the basis of “BSG,” so the whole Eve/butterfly effect/baby imagery isn’t utterly off the mark. And the actress herself is a 22-year-old woman who has posed seductively in the past. Where the campaign goes spectacularly wrong is in its Miley Cyrus ripoff Photoshop horror that makes Torresani look like she just wandered in from “Toddlers and Tiaras.” Want to exploit the sexy teen angle? That’s what the CW was built on. Want to make a grown woman look like a grammar school temptress? Then when the robot rebellion goes down, we’d like you to be first on their list for enslavement.

A SyFy spokesperson told io9 yesterday that “We routinely and confidentially research numerous concepts which are not limited to the images you have inquired about.” Can’t wait to see what they ultimately roll out. In the words of one commentator, “Which demographic are they trying to attract with these photos: Roman Polanski?”

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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