Madonna and Katy Perry's Bondage Pics Are Insipid, Not Provocative

V has just released one of the three covers, as well as some editorial images, from its Summer 2014 issue: shot by Steven Klein, it features Madonna and Katy Perry dressed in bondage-inspired outfits and engaging in some vacant-eyed faux lesbianism.

The editorial is meant to be provocative, I think — it's certainly been received that way — but I was pretty un-moved. It's not an exceptionally original idea: we're all, by now, pretty much inured to "controversial" S&M themed fashion spreads and ads and music videos — not to mention, this looks remarkably similar to V's bondage-inspired faux-lesbian Rihanna/Kate Moss shoot last year. There's also nothing exceptionally erotic or titillating going on here. From their expressionless faces to their perfectly airbrushed skin to their stiff poses, Perry and Madonna look like Barbie dolls abandoned halfway through playtime by a child who somehow got her hands on mom's Fifty Shades audiobook.

Madonna and Katy Perry's Bondage Pics Are Insipid, Not Provocative

Katy Perry and Madonna from V Summer 2014, vs. Kate Moss and Rihanna from V March 2013.

I'm not alone in harboring this sentiment: at The Fashion Spot, Mark E writes, "This isn't exactly something new and we're accustomed to seeing Madonna dressed like this. Quite frankly, I'm extremely bored with every element here." People on the site's forums agreed — "This doesn't shock me," said one; added another, "I'm just bored, and it feels like nothing we haven't seen from Madonna before."

My issue with the editorial isn't that Madonna (who's previously collaborated with Steven Klein a lot, to much more interesting effect) has traipsed over these territories before. It's that presenting sexuality in this way — by having models/celebrities detachedly approximate lesbianism or pose with some artisanal whips, without giving any real indication that they actually enjoy sex — is uninteresting and uninspiring.

On the cover, for instance, Madonna's legs-akimbo pose/blank expression combination just reads like "LOOK: SEX. IT'S SCANDALOUS." But, to me, this isn't subversive in any way — nor is it raunchy, even, because raunchiness doesn't take itself quite so seriously. It's just a pose, the edgy woman's version of the model hunch. The only reaction I could muster was a shrug and a "meh."

If you want to really shock people, why not try something actually ground-breaking? I, for one, would be stunned if I saw an "erotic" editorial spread without a single instance of slack-jawed, dead-eyed Sexy Face.

Images via V.