Movie billboards in Paris featuring The Artist actor Jean Dujardin might affect his chances of winning an Academy Award, according to the French press. The country's advertising standards authority ARPP said the posters, promoting Les Infideles (The Players), "present a degrading image of women".

Quelle horreur: Members of the public had complained saying t
hey found the posters of the movie starring Jean Dujardin
offensive. Pic/AFP

One of the adverts features Dujardin holding the bare legs of a woman, with his head between her high-heeled feet. Le Parisien said the US would not find the "salacious photos" amusing. But L'Express magazine questioned whether any row over the posters would actually affect the actors chances of taking home the best actor Oscar.

The publication asked whether removing the posters was "logical, given their openly misogynistic character, or a disgraceful censorship that reveals the strength of political correctness in our society?" The ARPP said it had received four complaints from members of the public, who found the billboards offensive.

The posters, which went on display, "propagate an image of women that damages their dignity," ARPP managing director Stephane Martin said. He added they "present a degrading image of women" because "you do not see the woman's face. This is certainly presenting an image of women as objects, in this case sexual objects."

Controversial stories surrounding Oscar favourites are not unheard of in the run-up to the awards ceremony.
Last year, a story about George VI, the central character in the Oscar-winning The King's Speech, began circulating on the internet, alleging the wartime monarch had Nazi sympathies.

Although it did not involve the film directly, a campaign was launched to affect the film's chances, which has become common practice among studios. During an interview with Premiere magazine, Dujardin said his new film was a satirical role, which focuses on male infidelity. He described the two lead roles as 'flamboyant idiots."
The actor has been widely praised for his role in the silent movie The Artist, which has been nominated for nine Oscars.

Oscar controversies

In 2006, when Eddie Murphy lost the Oscars for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Dreamgirls, rumours swirled that his chances were hurt by posters for his other movie Norbit that blanketed Los Angeles streets.

Similarly, Gerard Depardieu's hopes for a best actor Oscar for Cyrano de Bergerac were dashed when Time magazine ran a profile mistakenly suggesting, due to a mistranslation, that he had "participated" in a rape at the age of nine.