Clothes for white, teenage colonisers!

// 6 August 2008

goodbyeinnoence.jpg

goodbyeinnocence2.jpg

Via AdsoftheWorld

Comments From You

chem_fem // Posted 6 August 2008 at 12:44 pm

Just makes me think why?!?!

The advert designers could have easily made this not about race, like having a ‘tribe’ of people of all races with the same imagery of unicorn skulls and teddy bear skins.

Like a lord of the flies for teens rather than white teen colonisers.

Lucie // Posted 6 August 2008 at 12:45 pm

You know what always amazes me? The way in which the ‘advertising/PR community’ seems either so utterly sinister or completely detached from reality. I’ve come across it on several advertising websites. And they don’t seem to be able to spell.

Case in point, comment on the link you provided: “The art on this one is defenetly better than the girl one.. She looks pasted in and too bright and sharp compared to the rest of the picture. + the gun looks like a toy.

Idear is pretty cool.”

Yeeeaaah.

Zenobia // Posted 6 August 2008 at 1:16 pm

They seem to be making some kind of ‘subtle’ point about the sinister stuff underlying children’s toys and literature. Or something like that. It’s not the worst example of this I’ve ever seen, it at least seems slightly aware of what it’s doing, but it’s still pretty questionable.

Although I don’t think it’s fair to blame this on the possible dyslexia of its afficionados.

Shea // Posted 6 August 2008 at 2:06 pm

erm horrendous? Only outdone by the Italian Vogue shoot that seemed to promote rape in the military. I agree with Lucie above, advertisers are from another planet, entirely detached from reality.

Kath // Posted 6 August 2008 at 2:17 pm

Lucie – completely agree with you about the nature of the comments on the ad site. I can’t believe that no-one points out the racism (well, I guess it’s too obvious to need pointing out) or that they were made in the first place. Just wrong.

eleanargh // Posted 6 August 2008 at 3:15 pm

Zenobia – I think they’re implying that the teenagers have lost their innocence and murdered all their childhood toys, hence the Minnie Mouse & Hello Kitty etc skulls – but whatever, there’s no need to reeeally reaaally weirdly bring in some colonial parallel.

And after the picture from the Next Top Model shoot posted earlier… advertising execs and fashion shoot designers are clearly in need of some compulsory race/colonial history awareness training.

Leigh // Posted 6 August 2008 at 3:19 pm

Okay here are the people to complain to http://www.cbgrey.fr/ enguerra@idenium.com

lara@cbgrey.fr

I just don’t have the words. My brain has broken at these images.

Alicia // Posted 6 August 2008 at 4:27 pm

I do like the Hello Kitty skull though.

Renee // Posted 6 August 2008 at 5:29 pm

This right after the disgusting image of Britain’s Top Model…when is enough going to be enough with these terrible tribal images?

Zenobia // Posted 6 August 2008 at 5:46 pm

Zenobia – I think they’re implying that the teenagers have lost their innocence and murdered all their childhood toys, hence the Minnie Mouse & Hello Kitty etc skulls – but whatever, there’s no need to reeeally reaaally weirdly bring in some colonial parallel.

I assumed it might be referring to some of the stuff in the story books they read as kids. Maybe I’m giving them too much credit.

And after the picture from the Next Top Model shoot posted earlier… advertising execs and fashion shoot designers are clearly in need of some compulsory race/colonial history awareness training.

Well, except that kind of training is meant to protect them from the people who would accuse them of being racist, it’s not provided out of the goodness of their companies’ hearts after all.

Besides, I think we can assume that they’re well aware of the colonial history. Plenty of people, particularly advertising company executives, think this kind of thing is fine.

And I mean obviously it’s pretty offensive, then again I’ve yet to see a fashion photo shoot by a large company involving a non-white model that wasn’t offensive in some way. There’s obviously a far bigger problem that needs to be addressed here. So yeah, fetching the smelling salts and writing angry letters could be step 1, if you want, but I just hope we don’t all forget steps 2-165, or just concentrate on this whole image, because one thing that scares me whenever these things come up is that it’s like they each occur in a void: “oh my god, this is terrible, how did we allow this to happen?!”. That’s one part of the correct reaction, but there is further analysis needed too.

And I don’t mean the kind of analysis that goes ‘Hoodunnit? The Butler? No, Patriarchy!’

Jennifer-Ruth // Posted 6 August 2008 at 7:49 pm

I just…can’t understand how this could get to the client pitching stage, never mind being published. That is horrendous!

Just so you all know, we’re not all completely detached from reality in advertising. I swear I would NEVER let anything like this pass without comment at my agency.

(one day I would like to run my own ethical advertising agency)

Anne Onne // Posted 6 August 2008 at 9:20 pm

Chem_fem, exactly! I look at something like this, and think ‘why go there?’. Seriously, what posesses these people to produce ads like these?

I get the ‘killing childhood toys’ context, the irony being that it need never have been put in a colonial natives-as-props context, because there’s plenty of other less racist hunting history to have used for imagery, if they wanted to. But of course, they didn’t want to, because they didn’t care if they were being offensive, or wanted the attention.

Laurel Dearing // Posted 6 August 2008 at 9:24 pm

and there was me thinking that weird littlewoods ad with trinny and suzannah and their plane crash was bad enough!

Anna // Posted 6 August 2008 at 9:45 pm

I think I’ve commented before that I’m pretty dense, but I didn’t even notice the toys until they were pointed out to me – just the hideously racist overtones.

Lynsey // Posted 7 August 2008 at 11:17 am

They are just trying to shock aren’t they, and it worked.

I confess, I do like the artwork (espeically the skulls), it’s quite Ryden-eque.

Flo // Posted 7 August 2008 at 2:07 pm

If I didn’t know this was an advert I would think the colonial imagery had everything to do with the loss of innocence thing, i.e. the teenagers have lost their innocence because they killed their toys and because their toys and fashions are all products of a dark neo-colonialist global production line. So as artistic social commentary it makes sense. But as an advert meant to sell clothes …I don’t get it! As an advert I don’t see how the intention could be to critique the dark side of capitalism and consumerism, which makes it seem they must be using the imagery because it makes the clothes seem cool by associating them with power and ruthlessness. Eeuuuch!

Liz // Posted 7 August 2008 at 5:57 pm

I’m reminded of achebe talking about heart of darkness, and how offensive it is that people continually laud it as such an important work, and spend time critically analysing it when it blatantly comprimises his humanity.I can’t remember what he said exactly, something along the lines of if it comprimises my humanity then it is worthless. Whatever statement it is trying to make, it still comprimises the humanity of vast numbers of people and therefore is not deserving of critical praise.

Carol // Posted 7 August 2008 at 9:13 pm

I agree, Flo. The whole thing looks too stylised and posed to be a realistic critique. And it’s all presented as if on a stage.

This makes it look like a comment on the young white man and woman’s historic past. But it’ all done so stylishly that it just makes the African people and artefacts look like fashion accessories.

Lucie // Posted 7 August 2008 at 11:33 pm

Jennifer-Ruth: I really hope you succeed in setting up that agency! Often I find myself wondering how frequently concepts this bad must get suggested, but I can only speculate really. My view is skewed – I’m a political economist, haha.

Zenobia // Posted 8 August 2008 at 11:17 am

So as artistic social commentary it makes sense. But as an advert meant to sell clothes …I don’t get it! As an advert I don’t see how the intention could be to critique the dark side of capitalism and consumerism, which makes it seem they must be using the imagery because it makes the clothes seem cool by associating them with power and ruthlessness. Eeuuuch!

Yeah, that’s exactly what’s disturbing about it. Kind of ‘We’re aware, and we’ll keep doing it because that’s the way things are, and we’ll have a wee dash of radical chic to go with that thanks’. So what they’re basically saying is that all the political ideas they’ve used for this photo shoot, and any other ideas, have no importance save as a means to sell their fashion, which is the real radical statement here. Not that Benetton haven’t been doing that for decades, I mean, that’s fashion for you, pretty despicable all in all.

Citrusse // Posted 8 August 2008 at 12:39 pm

Hi everyone.

I was so shocked when I saw these ads yesterday.

Please if you think these ads are racist, write a complaint letter to the ad agency:

Callegari Berville Grey

92 avenue Ternes

75017 PARIS

FRANCE

Thank you.

PS: Do not forget that corporations estimate that for 1 letter of complaint, there has been 100 angry customers who did not write.

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