Alex Blaze

Spread the love (but not the power)

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 05, 2010 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: AFA, Armani Exchange, bisexual, Kansas City, lesbian

Armani Exchange has a new ad campaign that has an AFA group riled up but really isn't all that interesting. They're going to put these posters up in their stores:


Meh. I don't really get off on brands trying to attach themselves to a certain group's mystique, risque-ness, or political cache. We have enough problems as it is, and it's not like our identity and sexuality should really be used by a corporation to make sure that its brand ends up on the right side of the culture wars. While the boys are hot, it's not like Armani put up the ad to be inclusive or anything - it'll attract the right kind of political attention and make them seem like proper liberals selling the appropriate clothing for forward-thinking homo- and metrosexuals.

And, of course, there's always a useful idiot available to complete the charade:

OMM typically focuses on issues that air on television, but there is one other issue we cannot ignore any longer: fashion designers using scantily dressed models in advertisements who have recently put their focus on threesomes or same-s*x couples. This is not okay!

Malls, where teens hang out, have retailers whose window displays poison our children with 10-foot posters that are nothing but soft p*rn. In particular, Armani Exchange has recently displayed Valentine's posters with partially dressed "couples" holding one another. These couples consist of two men, a man and woman, and two women. The women are scantily dressed while it is questionable if the men have any clothes on at all. Two of these models are used a couple of times to represent bis*xuals. If it could get any worse the text written is "SHARE THE LOVE." (An asterisk '*' is used to ensure our emails get through to those who have signed up for our alerts. Otherwise specific words referenced would be blocked by some Internet filters.)

Not every local mall has an Armani Exchange, but we need to take a stand since A|X is one of the fashion leaders and this is becoming a popular trend. You may view these on their website at WARNING! Pictures are offensive.

And another fundie is attacking the ads in Kansas:

I can see part of their point - they don't really have a much of a choice about the sort of thing that goes up in a public space in their town. The AFA worries about teens at the mall (as if they haven't seen more than that, I know, I know), and, when you think about how the mall has replaced the town square as a place to meet and hang out. Yet they are usually completely private and opposed to any democratic discussion about the messages it sends within its walls in terms of advertising or the presence of outside protestors.

We have less public space now than ever before and it's all plastered with messages that we have no control over and no ability to respond to. I get that powerlessness, the feeling that I'm sure many people who care about what the AFA says get as well, but I guess the leadership at the AFA have to make sure that people's anger is directed at the fact that two dudes are kissing without any deeper criticism of the money and power involved (because what would be the point of a wedge issue if it didn't distract from important ones?).

On the other side of the culture war divide, I'm sure there will be gays and bisexuals and supportive straight people who'll proclaim with self-righteous anger that now they're going to shop at Armani Exchange to show their support for the campaign and piss off the AFA, apparently oblivious to the craven use of politics to mentally place a brand in all the meaningful cultural locations that will resonate with its target audience. Of course they knew the right would be pissed off with this ad; that why they created it! If Armani Exchange is OK with men and women showing affection and then "takes heat" for it, then that means that they're the right sort of people, right?

What are the chances that the fact that a fool is born every day went into Armani Exchange's calculation on how much this ad campaign could make?

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I don't care about their ulterior motives or obscure corporate plans.

What I care about is that if at least I'm going to be assaulted by sexually salacious advertising, that it doesn't have to be all heterosexual.

Meh. I don't really get off on brands trying to attach themselves to a certain group's mystique, risque-ness, or political cache. We have enough problems as it is, and it's not like our identity and sexuality should really be used by a corporation to make sure that its brand ends up on the right side of the culture wars.

I don't agree, for three reasons:

1) They're obviously trying to market themselves to people of every sexual orientation.

2) Whatever their commercial motives, ads like this have a tendency to promote tolerance and acceptance, which is exactly why the fundies are so wound up about it and so worried about its effects on teh cheeilldrun.

3) Giorgio Armani is gay himself, so it's not surprising that he would seek to use advertising to subtly push for GLBT rights. Kenneth Cole did the same thing with its "Are you putting us on?" print ad campaign.

4) Even if Armani wasn't gay, I still think it says a lot that a company would rather "end up on the right side of the culture wars" than knuckle under to a bunch of religious right bigots.

Sorry, make that four...I got carried away, lol

I love it when we get carried away around here. :)

1. honestly, I don't much care for the ID politics behind this since I think it's being used so cynically. Corporations (like Benetton and Nike) have known for a while that the easy people on the left to please are those who just want representation of minorities - add a few black people to ads, make two dudes kiss, add an empowering message for women (that was probably taken from a real feminist), and, voila, you're progressive. Who cares how little the workers who make the clothes are being paid - the advertising is inclusive!

In other words, it's just tiring, and not because of the ad itself but because it represents the end, the end of progressive politics and the end of what Armani would be willing to do to seem like a responsible corporate citizen.

Even if we take representation as important, then where are the black people, the asians, the fat people, etc? Why are they just beautiful white people hanging out? I don't think that that's of the utmost importance, but if representing all of society is important when it comes to queers in this ad, why not other identities?

2. It may, I don't know. I think the right gets up in arms about this more because they want to fundraise off it later. I'll wait until there are popular protests there before I believe that the fundies are generally pissed off instead of the ones who depend on the movement for cash.

3. I went to his wikipedia page to see if he was still alive, since I knew he was old. Turns out he's building his flagship hotel in Dubai. Yeah, I'm sure this guy cares.

And if all he cares about is LGB rights at the exclusion of all else, well, then only the gay part of me is happy at the exclusion of all the other part.

4. That is a better alternative, you're right. The best alternative is to find a way to take our public spaces back so that this isn't always a battle between the religious right and normal people.

I don't think this is a cynical move on Armani's part at all. If it was, then it would have put that ad in New York or San Francisco and posted an ad at its Kansas City store featuring a suburban Christian family; or they would make the subject of same-sex affection an object of ridicule. But it's running an ad with gay guys and lesbians in Kansas City, which is probably one of the most conservative cities in the country. In other words, it's willing to a) piss off a lot of conservative people and b) alienate a large and significant market. There's no reason to think that this is just an attempt to appear "inclusive" considering how subversive it is in a place like KC and how connected the fashion industry is to the GLBT community in general.

So yes, companies like Armani, Nike (which, if memory serves, supported approving Ref. 71) and Benneton manufacture their products in developing countries in factories staffed by low-paid workers, and Armani plans to build a hotel in the Dystopian Disneyland of Dubai. Suffice it to say, they probably don't share your left-wing politics (I consider myself a moderate, but even I would have serious ethical and moral issues with even visiting Dubai, let alone doing business there). But when individuals and companies support GLBT rights, it doesn't automatically follow that they will support every left-wing cause out there.

Um, no. it's not subversive to commodify sexuality as if it's inherently "edgy" anywhere. There's nothing "inclusive" about it.

Unfortunately, I don't think these posters seem to be geared toward achieving equality, but instead to demonstrate how sexy Armani is. To me the location in Kansas City seems more like a strategic move to encourage kids to shop there than a progressive move towards LGBT rights. I feel like conservatives in Kansas City are going to tell their kids not to shop there because of the "offensive" ad campaign (possibly making Kansas City even less LGBT friendly, like we need that), which would (ideally for Armani) pique their interest and make the more rebellious teens want to shop there more often.

I like to look closer for symbology and this image interests me. The man and the woman in the middle are the same models that are embracing same-sex partners in the pictures to the sides. Additionally, in the middle picture they are both wearing sunglasses -- almost if they are hiding something. Are they cheating on their partners? Are they closeted and pretending to be straight with each other? Who knows? But it peaks my curiosity. I wonder if the company that created the posters are even aware of the range of possible scenarios they are creating.

Or maybe a new line of sunglasses has been released?

Ha! Yes. I suppose that is just as likely. Knowing the commercial intentions behind it, that's even a more likely possible conscious motivation.

LOL. I still love your ideas, like the brave new world where same-sex love is normative and straight people have to sneak off to express their love.

I remember that episode of Ellen too.

Or bi folks. I've lived in that world, where folks are closeted about being bi, even to the point of hiding their relationships with other queer people of the opposite sex for fear of being outcast from the community.

Oh, ok, now I get it. Good point.

crescentdave crescentdave | February 6, 2010 2:16 PM

I'd like to think it's bi. In terms of the overall post ... I disagree. Visibility is a good thing. Referencing the LGBTQ community is a good thing. We want equality ... well, we are being equally pandered to, manipulated and/or exploited.

Comes with the territory.

I actually agree with the complaint that most fashion ads are like soft porn, but that trend started long before teh ghey entered the advertising realm.