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Inside the A-School

Public Forum: “MONEY SHOT”

Marlon Blackwell gave a lecture on Monday describing his work, using the term “money shot” on several occasions. The term raised some flags amongst the students, and over the few days, a series of posters began to appear around the building: “money shot is a pornographic term, not an architectural one. Isn’t there a more inclusive way to discuss our work?” This has sparked some interesting responses from the student body. These ranged from accusations of passive aggressive behavior (regarding the anonymity), an accusation of childishness, to “your mom,” to those who provided further options for discussion such as the colloquial definition of “money shot,” or even a response claiming that urbandictionary.com is not a reliable source for colloquial definitions. (To get an understanding of the “common” definition of “money shot,” I would recommend google image searching the term.) The most negative response has been to tear them down to stop any further discussion.

These tags were produced by Melissa Elliott, a second year graduate student of Landscape Architecture. To address the responses, she would like to say a few words explaining some of her intentions behind these tags:

“Money shot” is a term that I have heard increasingly used here in the School of Architecture.  I find the use of the term offensive, and am concerned that the term objectifies and devalues women.   Yet in a school with a student body comprised of over 50% women, the term has become so accepted that a visiting lecturer, Marlon Blackwell, used it repeatedly in front of a packed lecture hall.  After discussion with my peers, I felt that a larger interrogation of this term’s meaning and use within the school was necessary.  Without any known forum for such a discussion, I elected to post a few posters around the school reminding our community of the term’s pornographic association and asking whether we could find another means of discussing our work.

Why is the term “money shot” so problematic?  As a few people have pointed out, money shot did, at its origin, refer to the most expensive scene of a film.  But this term was also coopted by the pornography industry to refer to images of male ejaculation onto a female body.  Terms do have different meanings across contexts, cultures, time and genders.  However, if a group of us within the school find the use of the term offensive, why not interrogate its use?  Why would “money shot”, even in its original use, be a term that we would want to embrace as a community of designers?  Its objectification of people, things, and creative products seems contrary to the ethics of our school – which are rooted in thoughtful attention to the relationships between figure and field, intervention and site.

The poster project, as well as this essay, is not an attack on individuals who use the term.  One of the reasons that I did not ask Blackwell about the use of the term in the lecture is that I didn’t feel that he deserved to bear sole responsibility for a term that I hear used in our studios on a daily basis.  For me, the lecture served as an impetus to take action, but not the sole target of my efforts.  What I want to emphasize is the need for a dialogue regarding terms we find questionable, objectionable or confusing, rather than an uncritical acceptance.

What is the correct forum for discussing this term? What are the other terms that we might find problematic? How can we, as a community, move forward?

One of the faculty, Professor Maurice Cox, offered the following words: “I am intrigued by the ‘money shot’ reference appearing around the A-School and welcome the discussion that the anonymous tagging is meant  to ignite. I am particularly interested in the issue as it’s been understood by students who may have heard the term used by Marlon Blackwell, the TJ Foundation Professor who is currently teaching with me in the Fulton Gas Works Studio. Students are clearly less interested in the single photo-op moment of their design as they are in the process of their design itself. The term “money shot” is so perversive in architecture that I suspect that Marlon Blackwell only referenced it jokingly and not as a cheap reference to its use in pornographic films. However, such terms are now accepted as normal and deserve to be challenged. I think the tagging quote does that but doesn’t allow much of a way to interact with it.”

The poster underneath is one annonymous response.

Someone decided to make a very intelligent “your mom” joke.

In response to the “urbandictionary.com” definition, someone decided to provide a definition from a more reliable source.



54 thoughts on “Public Forum: “MONEY SHOT”

  1. I guess it is still a man’s world. Keep fighting it though.

    Posted by VoR | April 21, 2011, 1:36 am
    • I’m very thankful for this discussion. I had not realized the full range of meanings behind the term ‘money shot’. I myself have used the term often. Although some people may understand the term as the most expensive or impressive scene of a film, I can imagine many more people understand the term as that associated with pornography.

      I also appreciate the comments about developing terms to describe design process, as opposed to one moment that might somehow have the power to describe an entire project through time. All too often architecture books and magazines highlight the image of a shining new building on a perfect sunny day, when in reality architecture weathers through time and use. The most stunning examples of architecture in my mind are those that are able to shift and accommodate many circumstances with grace.

      I feel good about deciding not to use the term ‘money shot’ to describe architecture again.

      Posted by anonymous | April 21, 2011, 9:16 am
    • Why don’t we discuss etiquette when a renown visiting professor is still at the school. Its unfortunate that Mr. Blackwell most likely saw your cute little sign hanging in the east addition on Tuesday. Where’s the decency?

      – This is stupid, everyone get back to work

      Posted by Matt | April 21, 2011, 1:52 pm
  2. Bleeding heart liberals are not cool, and are the downfall of the country. Stop being whiny college students, there is a blog for that. http://whinyliberal.com/

    Posted by Eric Stratton | April 21, 2011, 7:58 am
  3. FYI- A significant number of Marlon’s projects involve interior designers who have worked on [non porno] film sets the majority of their respective careers. Webster has two definitions for the term, yes. Note that the context being suggested by this blog came about much later in time.

    As a blanket statement, let us not forget that a lecture is a 90 minute snap-shot of someone’s 20 year career.

    If anyone wants to spend minutes/hours/days reassigning the context intended by the lecture- so be it. This comment took 30 seconds. Back to work…

    Posted by Brad Schuck | April 21, 2011, 8:34 am
  4. Melissa, I applaud your efforts at confronting a topic, which despite its subtle integration within contemporary architectural vernacular, inevitably equates “perfect rendering” with an explicit sexual undertone. If we do not voice our opinions and provide a platform for meaningful discussion, how will we as designers challenge preconceived notions?

    Posted by Sarah B | April 21, 2011, 9:10 am
  5. i think you’re taking this WAYYY too seriously. when people in the studio say money shot, they obviously are not referring to the word’s pornographic context. and since they’re are several definitions for the term, one of them being very relevant with concern to architecture, i think you should stop being sensitive and get over it.

    Posted by a woman who disagrees | April 21, 2011, 9:26 am
  6. The use of high quality, lovingly produced and retouched photographs of buildings as a way to communicate is an issue to be addressed. People have the same concerns about food photography and nature photography–essentially that an image that has been so manipulated and processed actually does damage to the actual object or condition: reality cannot measure up to alluring image.

    “Money Shot” thinking does occur during the design process. Perhaps a more sensitive way to express it is to say: “..and then you turn the corner and see the view of the meadow framed by the bookcases and the clerestory windows are in alignment and you know that you are in a special place.” But perhaps that kind of talk is too sincere and off-putting for some. Easier to use the tongue in cheek expression based in popular culture with a naughty undertone.

    Should architecture borrow the language of pornography? Probably not.

    Posted by Robert Sharp | April 21, 2011, 9:55 am
    • Robert,

      Interesting points. However you miss the obvious fact that “money shot” has merely been co-opted by the porn industry. It is not a product of the porn industry. If you don’t want language to only exist in the context of porn then don’t let it be used exclusively in that context.

      Posted by Jeff | April 21, 2011, 11:50 am
      • My apologies to this forum for missing an obvious fact.

        While I care a great deal about the integrity of language, I care more that an architectural concept that is important to me not be torpedoed by a term that might have unsavory connotations for some members of the public. The English language is rich enough to convey concepts in multiple ways, many of them more descriptive and evocative than “money shot”. My primary concern in this discussion is that architecture is more than image and that some images tend towards a superficial understanding of the building or space. I have experienced a genuinely delightful uplifting moment in one of Marlon Blackwell’s buildings so I know that his buildings are not only about shallow imagery. Other, less talented designers might make some bad decisions in pursuit of a particular image, so let’s hope that design becomes more about how things work and less about how things look.

        Posted by Robert Sharp | April 21, 2011, 12:07 pm
  7. Why do some women think they speak for all women – especially women within the design world? Why does a woman acting in a porno always have to be a victim? Why does the poster creator’s reverse sexism automatically assume that a woman involved in a public display of her sexuality should feel denigrated or ashamed? Why does the poster creator bow down so willingly to the male-centered concept that a woman enjoying sex is an object? Women in countries like Italy and Sweden would laugh at this uptight American girl who is so scared of enjoying sex and so threatened by the very idea of pornography that she feels compelled to impose her puritanical standards on everybody else in the department. Not all porn is bad. Not all sex is bad. Some women enjoy the act under discussion, even – gasp – outside of a pornographic context. Political correctness died sometime around September of ’01. Wake up and smell the real world. And citing Urban Dictionary is certainly no way to build credibility in academia. Thoroughly embarrassed by my alma mater, Dani

    Posted by Dani | April 21, 2011, 11:31 am
    • Why is asking to start a dialogue about the use of a term “speaking for all women?” I appreciate a plurality of opinions about the appropriateness of using a term that may have negative associations in some women’s minds. I haven’t suggested censorship, but discussion.

      Posted by Melissa Elliott | April 21, 2011, 12:31 pm
    • i agree with you whole heartedly. embarrassed by the GRAD. students of my university.

      Posted by a woman who disagrees | April 21, 2011, 2:47 pm
    • Speaking of puritanical standards, it is important to remember that America has strong roots in persecuted Puritans who settled here for a different way of life. It is not helpful to consider Europeans’ perception of the issue because theirs is a different context. Abolitionism never would have happened in Europe. I would recommend keeping th discussion more contextual.

      You are the only one calling the writer of the tags an “uptight American girl” here. We never said we are afraid of sex. We never said porn is bad. We said the term is used pejoratively as a result of its use in the porn industry.

      If political correctness died, then why does this discussion disturb you so much? Why are you disturbed by some people who would like to openly discuss potentially problematic fissures in the current social system if it does not actually matter?

      Posted by sjlarch | April 21, 2011, 3:24 pm
  8. Well, I guess somebody doesn’t mind being known as Melissa “Money Shot” Elliott for the rest of her career.

    Posted by Rob | April 21, 2011, 11:39 am
  9. Maybe the use of money shot in an architectural context should actually be encouraged since it would help to “reclaim” it from those who only think of the term in a pornographic context.

    Don’t let the pornography industry completely take the term.

    Posted by Jeff | April 21, 2011, 11:47 am
  10. 1) I whole heartedly agree with Dani

    2) Everyone in this school is guilty of using various forms of archibabble (“money shot” included). So let’s be real here.
    Listen to nearly any final review and each of these rules will be broken:
    1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
    2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
    3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
    4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
    5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
    6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous

    I dont know about anyone else but I’m here to be in design school and produce as many sexy projects as I can.

    Posted by Sarah | April 21, 2011, 12:00 pm
    • I also agree with Jeff

      Posted by Sarah | April 21, 2011, 12:24 pm
    • “Listen to nearly any final review and each of these rules will be broken”

      – Does the simple act of saying problematic things justify their usage? If I called your architecture project “gay” pejoratively, does it make it ok to use that term in that sense?

      Posted by sjlarch | April 21, 2011, 3:00 pm
    • “Listen to nearly any final review and each of these rules will be broken…”

      And isn’t that sad? Actually, I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or earnest.

      Sooner or later we will all have to graduate, and one day we will be expected to explain our work to non-architects. Do you really want to be in the habit of using a term that might have terrible connotations for some members of your audience? Take ownership of your language, but don’t expect that everyone in your audience has reclaimed the same words you have.

      Posted by Delia | April 21, 2011, 9:50 pm
  11. There was an interesting lecture given by Iwan Baan last year at the GSD. He is the principal photographer for numerous well-known architects (i.e. OMA, Herzog de Meuron, SANAA). If one is looking for some inspiration with regard to describing architectural photography, consider viewing his lecture via library request (not streaming on GSD site currently) or see the documentary ‘Visual Acoustics.’

    Posted by Brad Schuck | April 21, 2011, 12:10 pm
  12. I never knew money shot had a pornographic meaning until this morning, so I have to disagree that the term is usually associated with pornography. I also didn’t know its original movie meaning either, and I am a trivia buff.

    I always thought of it as either a tabloid term – the money shot is catching a star cheating on spouse, etc, or the shot that finally proves a theory – the money shot of the Loch Ness Monster.

    Posted by mere | April 21, 2011, 12:11 pm
    • I agree with Mere and Jeff. Many of the students do not even know of the term’s connotations and/or meanings outside of architectural usage, creating captivating images that can be used to explain your project’s concepts and spaces.

      So okay, “money shot” has negative meanings, but we have a choice to move past that and stop perpetuating that meaning. Moving forward doesn’t equate to being dismissive. Rather, we can change the term to perpetuate something positive, showing our projects at their highest potential.

      If matters of offensiveness continue to be discussed.. I have found it more offensive to have posters up around the building describing the vulgar acts of “money shot”– completely unrelated to the topic of architecture. When I walk up the stairs, I don’t want to see that. There are other forums for discussion, like this blog…

      Posted by a woman who also disagrees | April 21, 2011, 2:32 pm
      • Consider for a moment, that the offense that you feel upon seeing those tags is the same level of offense that someone can feel when they hear certain terms.

        In fact, why use terms “completely unrelated to the topic of architecture” to describe it in the first place? Why is it necessary to associate architecture with money, and then money as good?

        Posted by sjlarch | April 21, 2011, 3:11 pm
  13. Should we also not speak of the Eiffel Tower because it has an sexual connotation according to urbandictionary.com? Look up just about any word on that site and there will most likely be an inappropriate or degrading definition.

    Urbandictionary.com is not a reliable source, and words and phrases should not be dismissed from the English language because they have been assigned secondary meanings over time.

    Posted by Alex | April 21, 2011, 12:53 pm
    • Alex, I did not reference/cite Urban Dictionary. A simple Google search will reveal the connotations that I associate with the term.

      Posted by Melissa Elliott | April 21, 2011, 2:56 pm
    • A response from the Oxford English Dictionary
      money shot n. U.S. colloq. (a) Sport a shot on which the outcome of a match, etc., depends; a very important shot; cf. Compounds 3; (b) a provocative, sensational, or memorable sequence in a film, on which the film’s commercial performance is perceived to depend; spec. (in a pornographic film) one showing ejaculation (= come shot n. at come n.1 Additions); (also in extended use) a crucial or pivotal moment, event, or factor, esp. in another art form, as a novel.

      1928 Dunkirk (N.Y.) Evening Observer 6 Aug. 15/2 Bobby Jones [sc. a golfer] admits he gets scared when he has to make a *money shot.
      1961 A. Palmer Golf Bk. 38 In low-scoring, high-money tournaments, your drive becomes the money shot.
      1977 S. Ziplow Filmmaker’s Guide to Pornography 34 There are those who believe that the come shot, or, as some refer to it, the ‘money shot’, is the most important element in the movie.
      1990 Vanity Fair June 56/2 That glimpse of molar through the hole in Otto’s cheek is the novel’s money shot.
      1991 Washington Post 4 June e7/1 In Kareem’s waning years, when Magic [Johnson] was taking all the money shots.
      2003 Film Comment May–June 17/1 The images were of the so-called money shots from well-known movies like Gone with the Wind or The Sound of Music.

      Now can we discuss this term in a civil manner?

      Posted by sjlarch | April 22, 2011, 1:38 pm
  14. Language, like design, derives much of its meaning from context. That is why meaning in language and architecture is not stable. You know from the words I have just used that “stable,” here, means not fixed; it does not mean a place filled with horses and manure.

    I think that we need to grant Marlon the context of his words and the benefit of our doubts. There was obviously no intention to refer to or to introduce pornographic constructs into the civic realm of his public lecture. I think that this was clear from his use. It is also clear from the context of everything I have seen and heard Marlon do in his time among us. It is clear from his support of student work, both by women and by men. It is clear from his engagement with our School community. It is clear from sitting and having dinner with him at Peter Waldman’s house with his partner Ati and their two wonderful children.

    Our discussion here reminds me of a November 2010 exchange in the Charlottesville City Council Chamber. John Cruickshank, a former grade school principal and the head of the local chapter of the Sierra Club, used the Council’s public comment period to object to the plans for running 24,000 cars a day through McIntire Park (a plan that approaches pornography in my view). The plan sticks Charlottesville city taxpayers with the bill and the blight while accommodating Albemarle County traffic. He concluded his remarks by saying local citizens were getting “gypped.” Councilwoman Kristin Szakos, while avoiding the substance of the comments, responded that Cruickshank should avoid using racial slurs in expressing his feeling about the highway project, which she supports. Cruickshank was mortified. Of course there is no such meaning in the OED, but it is possible to find some on-line references to this being a racial slur. My colleagues in the preserve McIntire Park movement have now coined the term “getting Szakosed”: an attempt to undermine an opponents position by twisting the words out of context and casting their ideas into question.

    I appreciate Sophia Lee’s assurance that there is no ill will towards Marlon Blackwell. I don’t want him to get Szakosed. I have not heard “money shot” used in other contexts within the Architecture School so I can’t speak to the meaning in those contexts and I appreciate Melissa and others raising this discussion, so people in our community can weigh the weight of their words. This is appropriate. It is not whining.

    It seems to be best policy for us all to be as generous in attributing motives and intentions as possible. This obviously applies to Marlon Blackwell. And, as it becomes clear that the term “money shot” has origins and uses outside the realm of porn, and that many of us were clueless that it even had a pornographic use, we might presumably assume that any and all of us in the school who have used the term did so without knowing that.

    By the same token, I think we should extend our generosity to Melissa, Sophia, and others who raised this issue of meaning and brought us to think again about how we talk about our work. I did not realize before that the term had this “explicit sexual undertone,” to use Sarah’s apt phrase. So I am glad for the information and for the challenge to think a bit further. BTW, when I heard Marlon use the term, I assumed that he meant, somewhat humorously, the shot that gets the next commission. And I am certainly glad he has continued to get the next commission; his work is extraordinary.

    Now I am considering the explicit materialist undertone of the phrase in that context. If the term has entered the common vernacular in the school, maybe there are other grounds for reconsidering it. Nothing wrong with thinking about getting commissions, but maybe we should be careful lest we too easily fall into the habit of assuming that “money” indicates the first and last measure of quality or value.

    Posted by Daniel Bluestone | April 21, 2011, 2:04 pm
  15. I would agree that a majority of the student body would hear the term money shot and not think of the porn industry. I think the way that Marlon used it was perfectly acceptable and represents how we realistically have to relate architecture to those not in the design world. The building has gone through a lengthy design and costly construction process and in many cases a publication wants one image to represent the finished product. The money shot is your final polished shot in which you have to attempt to summarize the beauty of your building. While we as architects understand the beauty behind the process of production, we must realize that paying for that final image allows that design to translate into popular culture.

    As for the debate about the meaning of the term, I think this forum illustrates how the connotations of a pervasive term can change. I respect that some have been offended by the term and feel the need to try to lessen its usage but in turn you have made it spread like wildfire. Trying to eliminate the usage of a term that some see with a pejorative connotation is only going to fuel the fire and spread the pejorative use around. Language changes across generations and I think we should see terms with an open mind rather than restricting their use. The fact that the money shot exists in architecture is a reality that we will live with.

    Posted by Tyler Whitney | April 21, 2011, 2:13 pm
  16. The purpose of this discussion is to re-think and re-define our intention – whether it be through text, spoken word or graphics – rather than lambast the person who stimulates such discussion. As designers, I would hope that we are all sensitive, yes “sensitive,” to the fact that there are various people who may be offended by what you deem quotidian language. Thus, when you design spaces, please be conscious of your intention. To provide an example, a wonderful person I know says, “Let’s feed two bird with one bread.” So let’s please do this and encourage further invigorating discussion and nurture this architectural dialectic.

    Posted by Sarah Marcela Bolivar | April 21, 2011, 2:26 pm
  17. This whole discussion is ridiculous. Obviously Blackwell didn’t intend for the phrase “money shot” to allude to pornography. Some feminists just decided to be offended and put up flyers. Get over the colloquialism and realize that he’s from a different generation who don’t make perverted comments and get offended by the drop of a hat. (drop of a hat doesn’t refer to pornography, does it?)

    Posted by Dave | April 21, 2011, 3:11 pm
    • Final Review drinking game – Drink for every sexual innuendo. Take a shot every time someone says “Money Shot”. Game On! Whose with me??

      Posted by Tequila = The Money Shot | April 21, 2011, 4:28 pm
    • I disagree with the idea that this discussion is ridiculous. This conversation has value otherwise no one would have responded. To jump to conclusions about Melissa and throw the word ‘feminist’ around is, in my opinion, short-sited.

      I very much respect the courage Melissa and others have had to voice an opinion about a subject that is controversial.

      Posted by jkv9en | April 21, 2011, 5:03 pm
    • Dave, I think that Prof Bluestone’s anecdote about Cruickshank is actually very helpful here. Words and terms don’t have universal meaning, and re-examining our vocabulary from time to time is a worthwhile exercise.

      Posted by Melissa Elliott | April 21, 2011, 6:43 pm
  18. I would like to point out that the fact that many people were not aware of the fact that the term had been co-opted by the porn industry, I think, runs counter to the statement that the word has any “explicit sexual undertone” at all. It speaks to the fact that language is contextual and supports an architectural context for a term; we should consider Jeff’s comments and look at this as an opportunity to take ownership of the term to strip it of these connotations that caused all this in the first place.

    Posted by matt | April 21, 2011, 8:29 pm
    • Eventually, we may be able to reclaim this term – but I believe to do so first requires acknowledgement of the term’s associations, as well as acknowledgement that for some individuals, this term will always be offensive.

      At the same time, I have to wonder why we need this type of term in the first place. Is this really the way we want to graphically and verbally describe our work?

      Posted by Melissa Elliott | April 21, 2011, 8:55 pm
      • Our profession always has and always will involve interacting with professional outsiders – our clients, the public, and some of the media. Even in reviews, where the people viewing are actually interested in process (and we are an environment interested in process more than most, I feel), it’s extremely hard to effectively condense months of work into a few minutes and a handful of images. An image that attempts to capture the most interesting, fundamental, or moving elements of your project can go great lengths into making a project accessible or capturing someone’s attention. The latter is particularly important when dealing with non-architects. I would not be surprised someone thought of the “money shot” term off the cuff, drawing on its original definition, to describe that kind of image.

        As an aside: I find the presence of the word “money” in the phrase extra fitting when in the context of literally selling one’s work to a client or a public (is “selling one’s work”, which could talk about getting paid or convincing someone of the feasibility of your project or the value of its idea, another one of these types of phrases, though admittedly less offensive). I also think there might be a Koolhausian humor to the phrase “money shot” having a pornographic use when the phrase is used in the context of showing your architecture to a client or the public.

        Posted by matt | April 21, 2011, 9:32 pm
      • Matt, I have no doubt that when “money shot” began to be adopted in architecture, the term was considered to have a “Koolhausian humor” in relation to its pornographic association.

        Unfortunately, this is a joke at the expense of women. In this joke, women are equated with buildings: objects to be consumed, designed and controlled by an architect (subject).

        Posted by Melissa Elliott | April 21, 2011, 10:45 pm
      • Melissa,

        I appreciate your concern, but your alarmist attitude is unwarranted and your criticism misplaced.

        “Money shot” has had an artistic/visual meaning long before it had a pornographic meaning.

        As you say below: “I have no doubt that when “money shot” began to be adopted in architecture, the term was considered to have a “Koolhausian humor” in relation to its pornographic association.”

        You may have “no doubt” about this personally, but you are wrong and this is a self-serving assertion. The pornographic associations of “money shot” came about in the past 20-30 years with the rise of the pornography industry and the obvious connections between climax scenes in that industry and the important scenes in mainstream film and art. Money shot has always been an artistic term tied with the commercial aspects of art, and thus I’d contend that for practicing architects and artists it is a valid choice of words. You can debate freely whether it’s the best way to describe a powerful scene or image, but that is a different argument from whether or not it is offensive.

        There is also the highly likely scenario that while we take for granted the fact that “money shot” applies to the porn industry, we are also the children of the internet era and widely and freely distributed pornography (and slang references like urbandictionary). Our parents’ and professors’ generation and others will probably miss this new connotation entirely (but you’d have to ask them).

        Again – I appreciate your vigilance in alerting us to unintentional sexual connotations in common language. But this time your concern is misplaced and it would have been more appropriate to do a bit of research and examine your own biases before posting inaccurate (and somewhat alarmist) fliers all over the a-school.

        Posted by Jeff | April 22, 2011, 10:46 am
      • Jeff,

        Perhaps it would be helpful here if some senior members of our faculty could advise us as to the longer history of this term’s use. Personally, I have never encountered the term “money shot” in any mid-century modern architectural text.

        At the very least, the absence of the term suggests that other alternative terms do exist, and that we might choose to use language with less potential to offend.

        Posted by Melissa Elliott | April 22, 2011, 11:04 am
      • To follow up on my previous comment, a quick search of JStor, Avery, EBSCO Host, and Google Scholar did not return any articles directly related to architectural design that employed the term “money shot”.

        Please let me know if you are able to find any references to this term in architectural literature.

        Posted by Melissa Elliott | April 22, 2011, 11:16 am
  19. I found this discussion to be extremely important and helpful. For me, I am not using English as first language. Obviously, I don’t know the hidden meaning of “money shot” until Melissa pointed it out. Suppose I find this term interesting, and start using it repeatedly without this knowledge, I might offence someone unintentionally. This is probably the hardest part to learn a second language, some words, you will never know alternative explanations in dictionary, unless you discuss to native speaker. So if someone thinks in my position, you will see how valuable the discussion is.

    Posted by Xin | April 22, 2011, 1:29 am
  20. As someone with no background in architecture (but with friends at the A-School), I can understand how the term ‘money shot’ could be used to aptly describe an image that captures the essence of a project and draws someone in. Especially if that someone is a paying customer. But I must say, if I were that paying customer and an architect I hired used the term ‘money shot’ in the course of a presentation or conversation, I would not be personally offended, but I would wonder why they would choose to use a term that has such strong ties to pornography for many people. I would probably begin to question their professionalism.

    It seems to me (looking in from the outside) that architects and designers put a great deal of thought and effort into how they present themselves, their work and their ideas. Because an important part of presenting yourself well involves understanding your audience – their needs, desires, biases – a frank, respectful conversation about language and word choice can only serve to heighten awareness of the unintended consequences of using particular phrases. Talent, skill and hard work can take you far in your career, but we all know at least one person who is immensely talented at their work but utterly tactless, and their lack of social skill holds them back. Tact, while not sexy, is incredibly important in the professional world, and it takes practice. What better place to practice tact than in the safety of your peers and colleagues?

    Posted by Not an architect | April 22, 2011, 1:38 am
  21. I am embarrassed to attend the same university as the people making many of these posts. While architecture students might not understand this concept, words have many different meanings. The people using these words, believe it or not, are not responsible for anticipating every possible interpretation of these words that wingnuts might come up with.

    “Money shot” has many meanings, ONE of which refers to a scene from a pornographic film. I won’t even touch on the absurdity of actually citing UrbanDictionary.com as a source. I suggest that architecture students stay out of fields (like English) that they clearly do not understand and stick to what they know.

    Posted by Logan Spencer | April 22, 2011, 2:19 am
    • From the Oxford English dictionary:

      “money shot n. U.S. colloq. (a) Sport a shot on which the outcome of a match, etc., depends; a very important shot; cf. Compounds 3; (b) a provocative, sensational, or memorable sequence in a film, on which the film’s commercial performance is perceived to depend; spec. (in a pornographic film) one showing ejaculation (= come shot n. at come n.1 Additions); (also in extended use) a crucial or pivotal moment, event, or factor, esp. in another art form, as a novel.”

      Words have different meanings. We are not trying to discredit those who do not know its ulterior meanings. However, we are suggesting that now that you DO know what its different meanings can be, be careful of when you use it. How can you know if someone has only heard the term in its pejorative sense? What if that person is your future boss?

      Posted by sjlarch | April 22, 2011, 10:35 am
  22. Thanks, Melissa, for starting such an interesting dialog. It has been revealing to me in a couple ways: 1. I didn’t know the term ‘money shot’ had a pornographic association 2. it has revealed a wide array of communication styles that exist in the A-school… some well reasoned disagreements… and some close-minded, name-calling.

    I think it is important to remember that we all have ideas that we want to convince other people are good ones and can possibly change the world for the better… or at least some small corner of it. As designers we communicate both visually and verbally. Generally, neither alone will stand on its own. If either mode of communication is offensive to your audience, your idea will never be considered regardless of its quality or potential for ‘good.’ So, if you want to save starving children, stop mountaintop removal and defend human rights around the world you’ll do that with greater effect when you choose your words wisely and consider opinions counter to your own more civilly.

    Posted by dwooden | April 22, 2011, 9:56 am
  23. Can’t we look past the nomenclature of the topic to what Marlon was really referring to? As with countless other practicing architects, the money shot is referred to as a beautiful visualization of the project. Whether be computer or hand rendered, the money shot is the image that hooks your client. End of story. There are countless other day to day terms used throughout our culture that it becomes an impossible task to rid society of any combination of words that might hold multiple connotations. For example, the use of “rule of thumb” was actually a standard to where it became acceptable to beat your wife with anything similar to the width of your thumb. Yet I guarantee people on this very post use that saying countless amounts of time. My point- vocabulary evolves, meanings can change with context, and the fight to ban ‘money shot’ from use means we would have to ban countless other phrases from use as well.

    Posted by jd4dm | April 22, 2011, 11:00 am
    • Once again, I would like to reiterate that this is not about Marlon Blackwell. We understand that “money shot” has come to mean “beautiful visualization of the project.” But this is not the “End of story.” We are not fighting to ban it, we are saying why should this term be used to describe architecture when you in fact just gave a perfectly acceptable alternative, “beautiful visualization of the project.” Vocabulary evolves, meanings can change with context. And “money shot” has evolved to take on terrible meanings that maybe do not make you uncomfortable, but certainly can make others very uncomfortable. 9/11 used to be a meaningless combination of numbers. Now it contains national memory. Would you use the numbers 9/11 lightly to describe something? How is using “money shot” any different?

      Posted by sjlarch | April 22, 2011, 12:58 pm
  24. I am a a sex-positive feminist.
    Among informed, consenting, adults I am pro pornography and pro sex work.

    I am also pro being-mindful-of-language.

    Above all, I am pro discussion. Which means I am pro the 1982 “Scholar and Feminist IX” Barnard conference; pro Melissa raising this issue and working to create dialogue; and pro anyone who wants to come speak further about it with me. I’m David Holzman, I’m on the fourth floor in the “Form Follows Flows” Landscape Studio, and, again, I consider myself a feminist.

    Happy Earth Day.

    Posted by David Holzman | April 22, 2011, 2:01 pm
  25. With all due respect, this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard of. Let me be clear though that this is NOT an attack on this discussion … remember, I said with all due respect

    Posted by Tim | April 22, 2011, 2:59 pm
    • OED definition of “ridiculous”: 1a “Arousing or deserving mockery or derision; absurd, preposterous; risible.”

      OED definition of “respect” verb: 6e ” e. To uphold, maintain, refrain from violating (a right, privilege, law, decision, etc.). Also: to refrain from harassing or obstructing (a person); to treat with consideration in regard to a particular course of action, function, etc.”

      You are not being respectful at all.

      Posted by sjlarch | April 22, 2011, 5:04 pm
  26. The OED is not a reliable source, as it is European by nature. I only trust American things. Your argument is flawed. Stop trying to be worldly, you just look like fools.

    Posted by Evan Stone | April 22, 2011, 7:21 pm
  27. This is definitely one of the most fascinating blogs I’ve seen. It is so easy to tune out, but there is seriously some good things on the net, and I think your blog is on the list!

    Posted by Parinita Master | October 6, 2012, 5:50 am

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