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14 December 2008

That is pretty fucked up.
posted by jonathanstrange 14 December | 22:39
just the look on the guy's face makes my stomach tighten. The sickest part may be that this was a group decision by this company, and concocted in a conference room somwehere.

This ad was an account.
posted by Lipstick Thespian 14 December | 23:11
well, shit.

I know who's not getting my hard earned suit-buying dollars.
posted by heeeraldo 14 December | 23:36
Deeply callous and scary.

I know people are writing to the company right now. In this case taking it to the next level would be worthwhile as well - writing or calling the stores that sell the clothing, periodicals printing the ad, etc. Enough. There should be no reward for this.

I also wonder, how do you be the model in this sort of ad? How's that feel? The male too, but mostly the female. How much do you have to get paid before you're OK with "Can you relax your hand a little more, maybe bend your fingers kind of loosely so you can look more...dead? Awesome, honey, hold that, great. That's perfect."

LT's right - whenever an image like this makes it way to our eyes, there was a lot of agreement and cooperation all along the line from a lot of people - executives, writers, stylists, models, photographers, ad buyers, marketers, makeup artists. So all of them thought it was totally cool, I guess.

Fuck that.
posted by Miko 14 December | 23:51
I also wonder, how do you be the model in this sort of ad?

You be a model without a noteworthy career who's offered a lucrative gig from a major designer. I understand and share your feminist disgust, but that's how.
posted by middleclasstool 14 December | 23:54
Yes, I understand the attractions of finance that make people do this, but what I'm asking, challengingly of course, is not why you do it but how you liveit -- how you manage it in your head. How do you be that person - how do you construct this in your thoughts, quash the clear messages you're being given.
posted by Miko 15 December | 00:01
Also, it's just plain disgust.
posted by Miko 15 December | 00:01
"I know people are writing to the company right now." and I'll bet the company is loving it. This sort of thing worked great for Calvin Klein. By that I mean this is no more or less than I expect from fashion advertising.
posted by arse_hat 15 December | 00:42
Yes, I understand the attractions of finance that make people do this, but what I'm asking, challengingly of course, is not why you do it but how you liveit -- how you manage it in your head. How do you be that person - how do you construct this in your thoughts, quash the clear messages you're being given.

Simple. They don't manage it. Because they don't care.

Not everyone thinks about things as deeply as you do. Not everyone has the same moral conscience you have. Not everyone has an inner life.

As long as they're getting paid and what they're being asked to do for that paycheck isn't too overtly repulsive, some people will be happy to do just about anything.
posted by jason's_planet 15 December | 01:00
That ad is awful.
posted by halonine 15 December | 01:24
Welcome to the world of the bespoke suit. GQ is probably the lowliest of periodicals in which DQ and their ilk would advertise, perhaps even occasionally Playboy, however the bulk of their ad budget goes to much higher end publications.

Stores? No. Tailor shops. Where $6,000 is a cheap suit, $12,000 earns you a bit of respect, $18,000 is an average suit, and the high end starts at $30,000. Establishments where the staff will look a man directly in the eye and tell him not to return until after he has lost 13 pounds. Their customers are men who can easily afford a dozen such models wiggling on the hoods of a dozen sports cars all evening long.

Feministe is giving these guys exactly the publicity that they want, and their reputation will not be tainted in the least. In fact, they and their customers will get a good laugh over "the middle class feminists pissing indignantly all over themselves". Feministe is servicing Duncan Quinn as assuredly as the model in the ad.
posted by Ardiril 15 December | 02:21
Of course it's horrible, but it's also ubiquitous. Hot dead women litter the landscape... you literally cannot turn on the television, go to the movies, pick through a stack of bestsellers without tripping over a couple of dozen hot dead women. This ad is sick, but it's common as dirt.
posted by taz 15 December | 02:22
That ad turned my stomach.

So, now at least, do we assume that men who buy those suits are pigs?
posted by bunnyfire 15 December | 07:43
high end starts at $30,000.

If I ever spend $30k on a suit, it better come with someone inside it who'll go to work for me.
posted by jonmc 15 December | 08:31
Oh whatever, ardiril. Readers of Feministe are used to being called the worst sorts of names. Your argument can be summed up as, "People should speak up about social injustices, because it'll just make everyone hate them." Feministe's target isn't the sort of man who gets turned on by that ad and decides to buy a suit - Feministe's target are sane, rational people who perhaps haven't realized why the ad is so terrible in the first place.
posted by muddgirl 15 December | 08:32
Wow, I'm not sure what's more offensive, that ad or paying $30K for a suit. I chafe at paying 1/2 that much for a car.
posted by octothorpe 15 December | 08:42
shouldn't, not should
posted by muddgirl 15 December | 08:50
muddgirl, I don't think that's what ardiril's saying at all. He's saying that the company making these is actually counting on people being offended, since it'll drive up publicity for them and sell more suits. Which puts people who are (justifiably) offended by this ad in a weird position.
posted by jonmc 15 December | 09:01
Muddgirl's got a good point though, jon, in that the discussion may not hurt the company at all, but may raise awareness of the point taz makes, that there is a lot of fetishization of death and violence in our culture.

People who buy this sort of clothing are already morons, and I don't expect this to make a dent. What I do expect is that a clear outcry will help draw a clearer line for publications and other businesses who may be unwilling or unable to sustain consumer dis-ease. I would also love to see this sort of imagery become less and less common as people grapple with what it really means and represents.
posted by Miko 15 December | 09:52
$30k suits? From what I've heard/read, the top Savile Row tailors charge in the 3k-5k range.
posted by mullacc 15 December | 10:00
On further thought: In these cases, we always hear that discussing/calling out the lousy ad is futile, because it only benefits or plays into the hands of the advertiser. I've decided to reject it. That's really nothing more than another way of silencing objections: belittle your opponent for their legitimate concern, or congratulate them for doing your PR for you. Either tactic is an effort to cast the objections as meaningless. But they're not. Being silent, in fact, or shrugging and walking away, is the response that really plays into their hands ('See? It worked in our favor and then it blew over. We can go farther next time').

So I'm no longer conflicted about that.

And though it is everywhere in our culture, I can never give it a pass, and it amazes me that we so often do. People need to think more deeply about the imagery they watch and participate in, whether it's their natural inclination or not, because as long as we don't we continue to create a culture where violence is seen as an everyday, inevitable reality, a culture in which apologists can be counted on to rush in and tell us we should shrug it off.

Again, fuck that.
posted by Miko 15 December | 10:04
mullacc is right, the rack suits run $2-3K, and bespoke $2,750, not including fabric. No matter the fabric it's not likely to exceed $5,000.
posted by Miko 15 December | 10:09
I think the best way to have your say about something like this is to go to the publishers who print it. Companies like this do this shit gleefully, practically salivating over the attention it garners to offend people who aren't their intended constituency anyway. But complaining en masse to people who augment their revenue stream -- that might help somewhat.
posted by loiseau 15 December | 10:16
(Also, what's with all the use of the word "bespoke" suddenly? I think I've seen it here and on Mefi more in the last two weeks than in my entire life before that put together!)
posted by loiseau 15 December | 10:17
I wonder what menswear expert (and GQ contributor) The Sartorialist has to say about this.
posted by By the Grace of God 15 December | 10:21
People who buy this sort of clothing are already morons,

Agreed. I'm not an anti-luxury zealot, but there's only one reason people spend that much on a suit, and it's the same reason they run ads like this: because they can.

Actually, I think that the most effective way to stop companies from running ads like this is to speak the only language they truly understand or care about: MONEY. Don't buy their stuff. In cases where the ads are for luxury goods that 99.99% of the world can't afford it anyway, this gets tricky, so that means you'd have to convince enough people who could afford it not to buy. Then they'll change their tune. Conciousness raising is all well and good, but economics is still the ultimate weapon.

posted by jonmc 15 December | 10:24
That's why loiseau's point about hitting their advertising outlets with the objection is the best bet. When a magazine is refusing to carry your ad, or an influential blogger refuses to write about you until you pull it, revenue is lost.
posted by Miko 15 December | 10:26
The year? It's two years old.
posted by dabitch 15 December | 10:51
Is it? all that wasted outrage. Next evildoer!
posted by Miko 15 December | 10:53
Also, regarding the outcry - does it help or do companies count on it? They count on it. That said, I don't think that if we stop kicking up a shitstorm is good either.
But then I get a little confused. There's this nice fella who runs a blog named copyranter. He'll post all ads like these often, he posted this particular one in July (sorry about the two year ting, I confused it with an old Tom Ford ad. There are so mant these days). He obviously doesn't like them and he gets lots and lots of traffic where people can come and look and hate the latest sexist ad he finds. Lots and lots. Me, I got this policy to not post shit like that, not even to scream "oh how offensive" even though I could clearly rake in the traffic on that (unless they are actually banned by the ASA or similar org, because this is news I want to report every time it happens). Instead I post really really long winded rants against sexist advertising on a regular basis like this one, to try and kick up a shitstorm or at least a debate within the advertising community about crud like this, which isn't a traffic magnet at all. So nobody reads them. (hehe) I'm such an idiot. I know.
posted by dabitch 15 December | 11:03
Indignant outbursts and calls for the morals police are usually counterproductive, but I am not advocating that they stop. This is still a democracy, and everyone has a voice and the obligation to use it. The herd has chosen its leaders, and now we see what they may achieve.

Who are their advertising outlets? Let's just say that you will not find all their periodicals at your average news stand.

Yes, off-the-rack tops out at $3K, and a "cut from the cloth" suit can be had for less than a grand, but neither has status.

As for the models, bondage and necro photography still thrives and the models are just as into it as the voyeurs. Feminists may not like it, but feminism is just one of many feminine mindsets just as misogyny is just one of many among the masculine.
posted by Ardiril 15 December | 11:14
Yes, off-the-rack tops out at $3K, and a "cut from the cloth" suit can be had for less than a grand, but neither has status.

Where are you coming up with an $18k "average" bespoke suit? I'm no expert, but I've done plenty of reading on the subject and I don't know of anything of higher "status" than a Savile Row bespoke suit. Something from one of these tailors--and those, I'm told, can cost up to 5k (or $7.5k USD).

I'm not doubting that $18k or $30k suits exists, but it sounds like a bizarre fetish for Gulf state oil sheiks. The equivalent of a Gulfstream V with a solid gold toilet. Not what you'd expect to find on the standard high-end bespoke suit owner, like a Wall Street CEO or the like.
posted by mullacc 15 December | 11:54
Who are their advertising outlets? Let's just say that you will not find all their periodicals at your average news stand

Oh, nonsense. They're not as high-end as you claim, they're aimed at a youngish midmarket, the hedge-fund type; and I'm not sure why you'd think we'd never heard of the periodicals - feel free to name some, if you know. You might be surprised at some of the circles your online acquaintances travel in.

the models are just as into it as the voyeurs.

A really strange statement and one I certainly contest, at least as a broad generality, and especially in an advertising context. I see you are continuing to try to find a way to minimize/justify this, but honestly I don't think you know as much about this as you think you do, and I'm not sure I see any legitimate reason to continue to suggest you have a more sophisticated understanding of the market or dynamic than others do.
posted by Miko 15 December | 11:56
Feminists may not like it, but feminism is just one of many feminine mindsets

it's not a 'feminine mindset,' it's the point of view, shared by men and women, that women are human beings deserving of equal legal and social status.
posted by Miko 15 December | 11:57
Thank you, Miko.
posted by Specklet 15 December | 12:04
Just throwing this in. For people like me -- those with no fashion knowledge at all -- the ad is really perplexing. I had no idea that "Duncan Quinn" was referring to the suit. Could have been the man in the ad or the photographer behind it, for all I knew.

Granted, I'm obviously not the target audience, so the makers can't be criticized for not making the ad clear to *me*. But that also makes it a little worse, in my opinion. Framing it like that adds this whole element of in-on-the joke; the viewer becomes complicit, not passive. Whole new level of ick.
posted by mudpuppie 15 December | 12:05
He advertises and does placements in GQ, Esquire, New York, The NYTimes Men's Fashion mag, Details and Vibe.

You can walk in off the street and make purchases. No appointment needed.

I would not say this is indicative of a brand that is terribly, exclusively, arcanely or intimidatingly high-end, based on their ad buys and on the obviousness of their profile. It's indicative of a brand aimed at making money from young people with high incomes who want to be seen, and to be thought of as fashionable.
posted by Miko 15 December | 12:18
I am referring by example, mullac, to a subset of tailors, not the industry, who specialize in menswear that requires 100 man-hours or so by world-class craftsmen, not counting the artisans who wove the cloth in the first place.

miko, so the women who believe that they are free to express their sexuality in a morbid fashion for the titillation of men can just go fuck themselves, eh? Their beliefs must be subservient to feminism, because like christianity, feminism is the one true belief system. Funny how in one weekend, we have gone from mourning Bettie Page to bemoaning one of her heirs. Tolerance of diversity still has a long, rocky road.

Don't get me wrong. I find the dom/sub lifestyle and their death fetishes despicable as well; it was the primary reason I divorced my ex. However, I will not preach against their chosen lifestyle like some evangelical. My belief is that if you don't like the ad, skip it. Better still, stay out of other people's bedrooms.
posted by Ardiril 15 December | 13:07
An ad isn't someone's bedroom. It's something foisted upon the public in hopes that the image will stimulate them to buy, and there's nothing wrong with the public talking back about that. Big difference.

I've always been bemused by the idea of replacing the violent/degrading images of women with, say, dogs. A guy strangling a dog on the hood of his car... How outraged would people be? A lot, that's how much. We wouldn't stand for it.
posted by taz 15 December | 13:31
Um, I don't find those lifestyles despicable, though they're not for me. And I certainly never said the words you're trying to put in my mouth about women who can 'go fuck themselves.' And I would never say that. Women are free to express their sexualities in whatever ways they choose that don't hurt others.

You don't seem to be comprehending of the difference between modeling for money in an ad that glamorizes the murdering of women and expressing sexuality. The woman in this picture is working. She is not 'expressing her sexuality;' she is doing a job for more money. In a society in which the most lucrative thing a woman can do is expose her body in ways men dictate and pay for, we do not have equal status for women. When a woman chooses to do it, particularly in the advertising world, this isn't a choice about her sexuality. It's a choice to take a financially rewarding gig - not a choice about how, and with whom, to spend her own free time.

The fact that you seem to be confusing her job and her sexuality is reflective of this problem. Where advertising models are concerned, they are rarely the same thing. When talking about advertising, we are looking at two issues: (a) how can choices be really free when women are paid far more for displaying themselves than men are, and far more than they can make doing any other sort of work; and (b) what is the impact of these images on people outside of the room where the photograph was taken - the impact on the audience? Does it make violence against women seem cool, debonair, what smooth guys do? Does it encourage people to assume that women enjoy this sort of depiction of themselves? Does it tell women to be fearful of men? Does it tell other men that to be rich and powerful is to wear great suits and kill women?

Your understanding of feminism is not quite accurate, which is convenient because that lets you dismiss it. But you are constructing a straw man. What you are thinking of as 'feminism' presumes a condemnation of women and their behavior that feminism does not involve. Individual women make individual choices, when they are free to. But patterns of limiting and manipulating women's choices can and deserve to be examined. Objecting to this image isn't objecting to "tolerance and diversity," nor is it saying anything about what goes on in people's bedrooms. You're conflating a few different areas into one there - again, that's part of the problem. You would like the feminist stance to be hypocritical, only it's not.

feminism is the one true belief system.

Again, what feminism says is that women are equal as human beings in society and under the law. The only way to oppose that as a 'belief system' is to have a belief system that says women are second class citizens, in status and in law. Holding that view is flatly unacceptable from a human rights standpoint; I'm not sure if you want to take that view, but you can if you want, though it certainly is extreme. Do you think women are inferior to men and undeserving of equal rights and opportunity?

I am referring by example,

where's the example?

posted by Miko 15 December | 13:39
I thought the same thing about dogs, taz, and there would be (there are) street protests when ads like that appear. I thought of some other potential paralell ads you could mock up, some involving restaurant kitchens and penises maybe, or Iraqi children, but you know, it's kind of sensationalistic to go down that road. However, comparisons would be apt.
posted by Miko 15 December | 13:40
That was waaay worse than I thought it would be. Yep, that's pretty bad.

Miko, while I understand your "how could she" concern about the model, it's probably much simpler than you're making it out to be. The image is not her. She's posing, doing a job. I do not assume she is expressing her sexuality, but she may very well see the end result and say "whoah, that's creepy! Awesome. Let me put that in my portfolio." She may not have the luxury of a good steady job - she needs these gigs to make rent - maybe working part time somewhere too, who knows. It's not like she does this for fun on weekends and a little spending money. It's just - she did it. She had no control over the end product, and I'm not convinced it would bother her at all. Maybe she's quite young, and seven years from now she'll need therapy, but I bet it more likely to be from an eating disorder than from a sudden realization that she was disturbingly objectified.

We'll never know the hows or whys or whos of this model, but. . .she's a model. Who took a job. I think that's ok. I do NOT think this image is ok.
posted by rainbaby 15 December | 14:05
Miko, Miko, Miko, thank you a thousand fold for carrying the rest of us who are too sick or tired at the mo to try to construct the arguments you made in this thread. It may come as a shock to Ardirl but for many people feminism helps both genders equally. Of course you'd have to practice it for a day or two to discover that essential truth. I think of practising feminism in the same way I think of being courteous in daily life, just a way to make life better for everyone around me, including me. Win-Win.
posted by Wilder 15 December | 14:06
I know all that, rb. I think people really misread my comment, or I just didn't express it well. It was more of a musing about how people rationalize this in their own psyches - in this case, you're probably right: good money, portfolio piece. It does take a certain amount of denial, though - the denial you mention, that the resulting image is what it is. That mental silence, that space of denial, that closed door, is an interesting one.
posted by Miko 15 December | 14:09
I am referring by example, mullac, to a subset of tailors, not the industry, who specialize in menswear that requires 100 man-hours or so by world-class craftsmen, not counting the artisans who wove the cloth in the first place.

That sounds like Savile Row to me. Oh, well, I give up...I think your $18k and $30k price points are exaggerated by 3-4x.
posted by mullacc 15 December | 14:51
For the record, DQ does advertise suits at $30K, but they are not the focus of the business. It's something they can promote, attention-getting to be sure, but all indications are their business is in the off-the-rack suit from their walk-in shops, tailored, $2-3K, and their marketing is aimed at people shopping for that price point.
posted by Miko 15 December | 15:02
I concede this one because what I wrote makes little sense to me this morning. I spent the last 18 years in the world of gay and transexual bdsm and prostitution as well as other deviancies acting as a moderating influence for my son to that exposure and working toward springing him from his mother's custody and her friends' drugs, money and influence. Why I would turn around yesterday defending them and echoing their bullshit without research is beyond me. I had hoped that my retreat to this cabin life would put some distance between me and various controversies, but apparently I haven't quite reached that goal.
posted by Ardiril 16 December | 06:34
You know, I'm not 100% sure that the subtext of this advert is the degradation of women. As taz has noted, images of dead, mutilated and abused women fill our cultural life. It's (unfortunately) nothing special.

What this advert is saying to me is, "If you buy one of our suits, you'll be so successful that you'll be above the law. You will be able to commit whatever crimes you want with impunity. Because you'll be a member of the elite, and they can do whatever they want."

The candid, slightly washed out news style of the photograph re-emphasises this for me. It's a photograph of young bankers spending our money on champagne and cocaine and prostitutes.

At a time when thousands of lives are being decimated because of the illegal actions of a financial elite, I find this subtext much more disturbing than the usual misogyny.
posted by seanyboy 16 December | 07:36
And yes - The fact that the Hoi-Polloi get upset by this advert is a good thing as far as the branding is concerned. One of the side effects of building that throne of skulls is the fact that the little people complain about it.
posted by seanyboy 16 December | 07:39
At a time when thousands of lives are being decimated because of the illegal actions of a financial elite, I find this subtext much more disturbing than the usual misogyny.

OK, but see, that's exactly the issue. Women's bodies get used as things, as stand-ins for "more important" things; that whole process of thinking, "It's not really a person, it's an agent-less symbol of my own desires and issues" when looking at a woman's body is pretty much the definition of objectification.

And while photos and other things are occasionally constructed with men's bodies working as symbols, there's not nearly the automatic correlation. Even just the idea that "sex sells" shows this -- when people say or hear that, they don't picture an ad in which two people are having intercourse. They picture an ad with a scantily clad woman. Women's bodies are automatically assumed to equal sex; the symbolism is so embedded that we don't even see it as symbolism anymore, the objectification is pretty much complete.

So much so that people can apparently see an image of a strangled woman and think, "Eh, no big deal. She's just a symbol of everything that's wrong in this culture." That's... not good, really.
posted by occhiblu 16 December | 10:44
Sorry, that last sentence came off as passive-aggressive and I didn't mean it to be. By "people" I did not just mean seanyboy, because I agree that his interpretation is pretty much what the ad was going for.
posted by occhiblu 16 December | 10:46
I agree with you occhi, but my thinking here is that the advert does little different than any other advert which objectifies.

I think, if they could get away with it, and it looked good, the advertisement agency would happily have the male protagonist kicking a tramp to death.

That they haven't done this does say a lot about societies attitude towards women, and the usage of the female form in advertising but for me, these are issues best addressed towards those adverts which are singularly misogynistic.

I believe that this is a misanthropic advert targeted towards a sociopathic elite and should be viewed as such.

posted by seanyboy 16 December | 11:14
There are no ads that are singularly misogynist, though. Everything intersects -- class, race, disability status, etc.

I mean, what would a "singularly misogynist ad" look like? Text only, saying "We hate women, and you should, too"? Are you saying that only when it gets to that point, then we can speak out against it? Cuz that doesn't work for me, so much.

Misogyny often gets written off as some sort of by-product of "more important" issues, is the thing, which is frustrating, because it's a giant self-perpetuating cycle. If we ignore it, it begins to seem like no big deal because we can ignore it, and since we can ignore it there's no point in stopping it, just ignore it. It's a little maddening.
posted by occhiblu 16 December | 11:22
And no problem with the passive aggression :-) I didn't see it that way. There is definitely a kink in my psyche that finds the image of women being strangled less offensive than it should. I'm not sure why that is.

I consider myself a modern man; I'm surrounded by strong capable women; I was bought up in a family where my mother was the primary bread winner; I'm good friends with old-school and new-school feminists; I don't feel the slightest threatened by feminism and the slow move towards equality. But tell me a joke where the punchline is "Nothing, you've told her twice already.", and it's the funniest thing I've heard.

Of course, I've only myself to work this out with. It's another one of those conversations that people should be able to have but can't. Whether this is for good reasons or because of middle class male guilt I don't know.
posted by seanyboy 16 December | 11:27
A "singularly misogynistic" advert (in my mind) is one where the only thing bad about it is it's attitude towards women. This advert hates everyone.

Maybe I should have said "singularly sexist". But I was thinking of those adverts where women (and only women) are the prize.

Misogyny often gets written off as some sort of by-product of "more important" issues
I'm not 100% sure what you mean by this, and I'm not aware of other situations where misogyny is demoted behind other more important issues.

I suppose, (for example) in a situation where someone is labelled with a combination racist/sexist term, the racism would get priority. Is this a simple example of what you mean?
posted by seanyboy 16 December | 11:43
Is this a simple example of what you mean?

Yes, but I mean more that, in general, issues that disproportionately affect women tend to get ghetto-ized, or ignored, or labeled "not the main issue." The process goes exactly like what you did in your post -- look at a photo that shows a strangled woman, declare that the image is not really about the dead woman, and state that the real issue is actually something else entirely ("thousands of lives are being decimated because of the illegal actions of a financial elite") which isn't even depicted in the ad.

Which isn't to say that that subtext isn't there, but that process of thinking, "Yeah, ok, women are being abused and raped and murdered, but that's not worth getting upset over, because all this other stuff is happening" (I know I'm slightly exaggerating that) is, at core, saying "Things that affect women are par for the course, we don't need to bother thinking about them or talking about them or in any way doing anything about them, because we should instead be upset about [fill in issue that affects men more]."

As for when it happens, it's happened in pretty much any conversation I've ever had about "women's issues," at least as soon as any outrage or desire to act against the status quo is expressed.

A "singularly misogynistic" advert (in my mind) is one where the only thing bad about it is it's attitude towards women. This advert hates everyone.

I don't think it's possible to have a misogynist ad that doesn't, in the end, also hate men. Either because it assumes men are idiots, or predators, or so insecure that they can't face the thought of treating half the human population as people.
posted by occhiblu 16 December | 15:52
I'm joining occhiblu 's fanclub.
posted by dabitch 16 December | 17:22
Speaking of Dogs || It's December 15, and it's 60 damn degrees out in NYC.