July 25, 2010

American Apparel Still Sucks: Deep Inside the Brand

American Apparel sucks.

With hiring and firing practices that include only hiring “attractive” people; their pervy, porny ads featuring waifish, jail bait models some call reminiscent of kiddie porn; and the arrogant, sexist founder and CEO, Dov Charney, a guy who “masturbated in front of a reporter, sleeps with his employees, promotes hot 17-year-olds to replace veterans,” “sweat-shop free” or not, why would anyone shop or work there?

Well, for one thing, it’s a job in an economic climate that makes landing even a low-paying retail job harder and harder to come by. And, lots of young things are attracted to the very idea of working for a company that has such picky hiring standards. If you’re hired, well, that must mean you’re special and super hot.

In fact, that is exactly the reason a former employee started working for Dov’s retail porn palace and, in the end, the reason I received this letter chronicling the dirty details so many employees have come forth with lately. The details of the following letter aren’t a novelty (see letter after the jump). In fact, stories like these have become commonplace for American Apparel and Charney which is why this letter is worth posting.

After multiple sexual harassment suits and similar exposes, what is striking about this letter is the fact that nothing has changed. Charney is so arrogant and confident in himself and his “politically progressive,” “hipster” brand image that the public masturbation, bedding of employees and controversial hiring, firing and at-work practices continue blatantly and without apology.

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April 15, 2010

Marc Jacobs is a Mysogynist

Filed under: Media,Media Gallery — Tags: , , , , — Melanie @ 10:06 pm

What other explanation is there for a company that continues to create ad campaigns that depict women as 1. disposable 2. victims, sometimes disposable victims.

If you saw the ad round-up posted recently, you have seen the patterns, image after image reinforcing narrow and limiting themes of women in advertising.  To see the images lined up next to one another takes on a remarkable quality and produces a powerful impact. I know it did for me when I saw all of the ads put together, even after 15 years of conscious and critical analysis.

With that said, I’ve seen scores and scores of ads as a consumer and even more through the lens of a media critic and, unsurprisingly, in that process I have become a bit desensitized. Oh, another super skinny model, another model posed passively, and on it goes. I’ve seen such awful ads that many have become less shocking because there are others that are so much worse.

Marc Jacobs continues to strike me with the blatant devaluing of women and the often brutal or degrading circumstances in which they are depicted. The two below are no expection.

Top: Marc Jacobs ad from the March 2010 issue of Harper’s Bazaar (Kate Moss is on the cover)

Bottom: Marc Jacobs ad from the March 2010 issue of W (Megan Fox on the cover).

They’re both disturbing (and entirely unnecessary to sell whatever they’re trying to sell: the bag? the shoes?) but the bottom is one is what really made me cringe. Do we need to draw on rape scenes of women assaulted in back alleys? It reminds me of the Marc Jacobs ad campaign circa 2005 when shoes were being sold by placing them on models whose feet would be attached to a lifeless body on the ground, legs poking out from behind a bush. Yup, more images of disposabe, victimized women. I’ll be rummaging through my collection of ads to post them if you’re in the least bit skeptical or doubt me.

So, not much has changed in 5 years. In fact, not much has changed in over 30 years. Check out the vintage ad for shoes from 1974 that Ms.Blog posted yesterday. The fact that these images have not changed drastically in several decades solidifies my commitment to remaining vigilant and using my media literacy skills to call out the misogynistic companies that use victimized, brutalized and disposable women as ways to make a profit. Shame on you.

March 31, 2010

Is raping women only a game?

CNN reported on the latest [apparently, not the latest: see comment below] atrocious video game that allows the player to rape a woman over and over again while choosing a variety of methods to initiate the assault.

That’s right.

RapeLay, a video game that has gone viral since people, especially women’s rights groups, have reacted in outrage (and rightly so). Rapelay, a video game that, as CNN reports, makes Grand Theft Auto (the game that stirred up a firestorm of criticism upon its release in 2008) appear as harmless and “clean as Pac-man.”

Given the statistics on domestic violence, assault, and rape, it is difficult for me to conceptualize this video game as a “game.” Our media landscape is (and has been) populated with endless streams of images and messages glorifying, eroticizing and diminishing the serious nature of violence against women, an issue that some have called a hidden pandemic and others have labeled an epidemic of global proportions.

Viewing repetitive and stable images decreases our sensitivity to an issue, it normalizes the images and themes contained therein. Violence against women is an issue that we, as a culture, are already desensitized to on many levels. The systematic objectification and dismemberment of women (see Jean Kilbourne‘s film Killing Us Softly 3 and read her book, Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel) is rampant in and a staple fixture of our mediated culture, reinforcing images of aggression and violence against women as normative and unremarkable.

“Games” that continue to use images of gratuitous and unapologetic violence as a source of “entertainment” frighten me because the inevitable results are horrifying. We know that dating violence among young people is increasing. We also know that the level of mediation and amount of time young people are exposed to messages constructed by the mass media, including video game makers, is increasing (there are even treatment programs for young people addicted to video games). Taking these variables into consideration and recognizing the correlation between the level of mediation and one’s attitudes, expectations and behaviors creates a dismal picture for girls and women (and this isn’t even taking the construction of gender and the corresponding expectation of violent masculinity and submissive femininity as normative into consideration).

Given that, I think it is safe to say that rape, virtual or real, is never simply a game, at least not for the victims of that violence, virtual or real, and its social, physical and emotional consequences. In the end, we’re all negatively effected by a culture that makes violence against *anyone* a game.

rapelay_title

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February 13, 2010

Stop dissin' the vagina

I don’t know where to start.

Robert Pattinson, of Twilight fame, is featured in the March issue of Details Magazine fully clothed while surrounded by a slew of naked or near-naked women.

Typical (see my post from April 2009).

That, in itself, is worthy of a blog post but what riled me up even more was the asinine quote from the interview.

I really hate vaginas. I’m allergic to vagina. But I can’t say I had no idea, because it was a 12-hour shoot, so you kind of get the picture that these women are going to stay naked after, like, five or six hours. But I wasn’t exactly prepared. I had no idea what to say to these girls. Thank God I was hungover.

I hate vaginas! Really? He says this while lounging among tons of vagina. In the same week that John Mayer’s interview with Playboy revealed that his

dick is sort of like a white supremacist. I’ve got a Benetton heart and a fuckin’ David Duke cock.

What is more pathetic and disheartening is the fact that these misogynistic losers will still continue to date scores of women that aren’t completely outraged by these statements and what it says about these guys.

pattinson3_ssh

February 12, 2010

Culture jammin' ladies take a stand

Filed under: Gender,Media — Tags: , , , , , , — Melanie @ 10:08 am

There’s been plenty of discussion on the pervasive Super Bowl sexism this week but a few ladies decided to take action and subvert the message of male oppression and anxiety. The original ad, which appeared in Salon.com’s list of “Best and Worst of Super Bowl Ads,” appears first and is followed by the culture jammin’ response that went viral yesterday.

May 7, 2009

Fighting homophobia with misogyny

Filed under: Gender,Media,Politics,Sexuality — Tags: , , — Melanie @ 3:31 pm

This was a great piece over at Feministing.

January 28, 2009

Crushed out on Matt Damon

Filed under: Gender,Media — Tags: , , , — Melanie @ 4:20 pm

As if Matt Damon’s statement about Sarah Palin wasn’t amazing enough.

His most recent statement:

”They could never make a James Bond movie like any of the Bourne films,” Damon says scornfully. “Because Bond is an imperialist, misogynist sociopath who goes around bedding women and swilling martinis and killing people. He’s repulsive.”

According to Damon, that action hero formula is played out and old skool…kinda’ like sexism.  Yeah.  Thanks for being a real man and calling misogyny and sexism out as freakin’ tired and unoriginal.

I see why Sarah Silverman was fucking Matt Damon :)