Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Discussion Questions for "Arousing Aspirations: Lifestyle Apparel and High-Fashion"

I have a lot of questions about this piece, the first of which is, "what the hell?" This piece is such subjectively written misogynistic garbage that I've been sitting here completely baffled as to why it would ever be assigned.
No, seriously. My next question is "is anybody else as insulted and disgusted by this as me?" And my third and fourth questions: "are we being tricked? Is this another thing about evaluating quality journalism?" Because this piece has little to no merit as a commentary on the advertising techniques of lifestyle apparel and high-fashion companies. 

This piece started out okay, but Tom Reichert completely lost me in his section on "Christian Dior's Lesbian Chic." He seriously writes this: "They [the models] both fit one of the stereotypical supermodel beauty ideals--thin, Euro-American, physically attractive, with long legs and long arms" (247).  Okay.  I guess we should just forget the fact that Beverly Johnson, Veronica Webb, Iman, and Tyra Banks--four of the most iconic supermodels of the past decades--are women of color.  In order to disentangle what Reichert is trying to say here, you have to spend time figuring out his definition of "physically attractive."  In the grading scale of quality objective journalism, that earns a whopping F in my book. 

BUT WAIT!  It gets worse.  The sentence immediately preceding that one reads, "As with most attempts at mainstream advertising of lesbian imagery, it's obvious that the two models are 'straight'" (247).  So Reichert is saying that, because these models have "stereotypical supermodel beauty ideals" they could never possibly be real lesbians.  They're hot, right?  At least according to what Reichert finds attractive.  So they must be "straight."  (Why does he put that in quotes?!)

At this point Reichert had totally lost me, but I kept reading anyway.  That is, I kept reading long enough to see that he said this about a 1999 Rolling Stone advertisement for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino:  "The illustrated ad depicted two straight women hugging and kissing, much to the delight of men in the ad" (249).  How did Reichert know that these women were straight?  Oh right, they must have fit into his definition of what's physically attractive and therefore could not possibly be lesbian. 

I don't know how this could be discussed in the context of a worthwhile discussion on advertising techniques, so if anybody else has questions for the group I welcome them to take over. 

If this isn't sufficient for the assignment, I'd rather just be assigned to a different article.

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