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American apparel and sleazy advertising In june, when dov charney was finally ousted from american apparel, the fashion company he founded in 1998, commentators suggested it was not because he has been repeatedly accused of sexually harassing his female employees and generally being a sleazebag, but because profits were down. The subtext:You can get away with mostthings even after former shop assistant irene morales sues you for $250 million for allegedly making her your slave for eight months as long as you bringing in the cash.To quote forbes magazine, the company was profitable, or when it still seemed plausible that charney could turn it around after years of heavy losses, these allegations were brushed aside, settled or fat out denied.Now that the stock has plunged the board has far less patience.Weird, obviously;Intimidating, unacceptable and all that;But the biggest problem i have with this story is, why was anyone surprised? Charney and his team have been peddling sexism in plain sight for years.A 2006 class action against american apparel brought by ex employee sylvia hsu, who accuses an unnamed male colleague(Not charney)Of sexual harassment, remains unresolved.In 2008, saturday night live spoofed charney penchant for parading around the office in his underwear.In 2010, the us equal employment opportunity commission found charney had sexually discriminated against female staff. Depicting women as sex objects is in the brand dna.Its ad campaigns regularly cast female models as pieces of meat, mostly topless(Why bother with a shirt when you advertising pants? ), often with faces hidden(Who looks at the fireplace when they poking the fire? )And legs akimbo.Remember that ad for bodysuits the one with the girl spreadeagled on a bed beneath the caption open did it make you cross?It did me. Some people argue that these images are empowering;Their un airbrushed realism and porno postings simply reflect how modern girls see themselves, how they are and want to be owning their own sexuality, hot and in control, and fine with it. But american apparel sells its basics to both men and women(And children), so why aren men treated the same way in its ads?When a man does appear, why must he be the clothed one, holding the near naked woman legs apart?What liberated about that? It what the kids are into!Is the sort of thing i imagine charney, 45, might say being the operative word;Morales was 17 when, she says, her boss first started hitting on her.And is this really what the kids are into or is it surely more likely what the gross, middle aged bloke in charge is into?In a recent op ed piece in the new york times, journalist frank bruni noted, will be boys and great men will be monsters, including to women.Too readily, we shrug.Same week charney proclaimed he wasn going down without a fight(Having borrowed $20 million to up his share of the company from 27 per cent to 43 per cent), Lady Gaga made headlines for the leaked music video for her upcoming track, Do What U Want.Can you guess from the title where this is going? Directed by that beleaguered purveyor of designer smut, photographer terryRichardson, 48, the video features gaga on a hospital operating table.R. Kelly theRapper who, in 2002, was indicted on child porn charges when a 13 year old girl accused him ofRaping her and filming it is cast as her twisted surgeon.This is one of his lines:Putting you under, and when you wake up, you going to be pregnant. Is it any wonder the cry of ad forRape!Went viral? The whole scenario is 100 kinds of wrong, from kelly sinister glam get up(He in black scrubs, dark glasses and a black glittery face mask)To gaga mastabatory writhing in response.What her message for her little monsters(Those ardent fans, so many of whom are underage girls)?That it fun to be knocked out and interfered with?That guys should be able to what they want with girls bodies?That richardson is a valuable cultural raconteur to be praised for making miley cyrus and her wrecking ball cool, rather than the man accused of groping models and worse? Sky ferreira, the la based singer and former fashion model, took to facebook to michael kors:www.teambs.com.au defend richardson, with whom she herself has worked many many many occasions since she was 17.Would like to say from my own personal experience:I have never been forced or manipulated into anything, she wrote.Media acting as if terry richardson manipulated lady gaga into making a video about getting touched by r.Kelly or whatever is a whole other Thing.[Gaga] is 28 year old woman [sic] fully capable/aware of what she was doing.These are the excuses they make:Slebs love him(See, for evidence, sittings by rihanna, miranda kerr, even barack obama);It just a bit of harmless, sexy fun;It has a sense of humour(See richardson posing with a giant baguette coming out of jeans);It collaborative art didn lena dunham pose for him? (She did, she has also said she regrets it. ) I remember when richardson book, terryworld, came out in 2004.I worked at an indie fashion mag at the time and we celebrated it lavishly across our pages.Check out terry ejaculating in the model face!Isn he, like, so daring!We thought it was cool because we were young and stupid, and because said it was cool, and because richardson shot ads for tom ford and covers for i d;His pictures were gritty, edgy, outrageous.And because there is no greater sin in fashion land than to be conventional, we pushed down that feeling that there was something not quite right here. Do you know how many times since 2010, when model jamie peck told her story to the gloss and the new york post outed richardson as favourite pervert i heard that everyone knew about uncle terry monstrous antics on set?Let just say, plenty.If fashion and music are art(Which they are), it their job to encourage us to think differently, start conversations and keep culture on the move. That why a plain grey t shirt is clothes not fashion, and why gaga in body distorting comme des gar is art and not simply noise.It also why american apparel tries to be arty with its ad campaigns because without them, its clothes are just commercial units.Why buy one plain shirt over another?Sex, obviously.If you don believe in censorship(Which, in general, i don artists be they performers, designers or photographers should be allowed to express themselves as they see fit, providing they not hurting anyone.If you don like it, don look.If gaga up for it anaesthetised patient offends you, you may choose to ignore it turn off the tv, close the browser, so the argument goes. But the flip side is, the more we are bombarded with these misogynistic images in fashion and the media, the more normalised they become.We stop being shocked.And when that happens, a luxury brand such as christian louboutin can release an ad for stilettos featuring a pair of severed female legs in a gift box, as it did recently, and we just shrug and say, well, sht happens.I seen worse.Nice shoes.Don want to censor gaga, but i not buying her for rape and don forget, it is for sale.As consumers, we have power.We don have to support fashion dated sexism and nasty, misogynist undercurrents;We can vote with our wallets.And we can express our distaste as part of pushing the culture forward.I don find violence against women or institutionalised sex discrimination glamorous.It certainly doesn inspire me to spend my money on the products it is associated with.How that for a conversation starter?

 
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