Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Don't let Calvin Klein get to you



The clever ad guys at designer Calvin Klein are at it again, stirring the blood of America with a controversial new campaign. Near nudity isn't enough. Implied sweaty sex isn't enough. Implied sweaty gay sex isn't enough. Now we've moved into implied sweaty group bisexual sex.

Maybe this wouldn't be so conversation-inspiring if the ad was buried in the latest issue of Cosmo or Vanity Fair. But CK has taken over the side of a building in New York City with a 50-foot billboard of the steamy foursome. (What? You don't think the hottie on the floor is gonna be left out of the action, do you?)

"It's soft pornography is what it is," Laurie Baranowski, a tourist in New York, told FoxNews.com. "I don't think that just because you put Calvin Klein's name on it makes it acceptable. It's a beautiful picture, but I don't think that that's the place for it."

Aaand ... I agree with her. Not about the "soft pornography" part, but the "I don't think that's the place for it" part. But am I disgusted and morally outraged? Nah. This is what the company does -- they're provocateurs.

I took a quick trip down CK ad lane, and the images were borderline NSFW. Lots of pics like this one: genetically blessed, touchy-feely young models, barely clad in snug denim and spritzed with something to make them look sticky and sweaty and sexy as all get-out. The only thing different about this campaign is the number of writhing bodies. (This billboard pic is actually part of a series. Think this is freaky? There's an image with five people breathing heavy.)

I think what really gets to people is what the image implies. The three guys and one chick look like they're all about to get it on. As in, there aren't enough women to go around, and that's not a problem. Put that on a billboard and not only may some parents have to explain the birds and the bees, but why some boy bees might like other boy bees instead of the queen.

But here's the thing. We all know that Calvin Klein is doing this to get publicity, to get people talking. The reality is, while it's a beautiful and erotic photo, everyone in it, and the photographer who took it, were paid to create a fantasy. The only power it has is what we give it. If you don't freak out, your kids won't freak out. As for such an image contributing to the oversexing of our culture, one could argue that a 50-foot billboard of topless, entwined pretty people could actually desensitize passers-by to the beauty and sensuality of the human form. Not me, mind you -- I would smile every time I passed it, and I don't even wear Calvin Klein jeans.

What do you think? Are you offended by the new campaign?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you have been sucked into this highly erotic world we've allowed..and you're promoting it by saying, "don't let it get to you". That's ignorant. How would you feel if you walked through your living room and saw your bared chested daughter with two bare chested boys on your sofa? Your comment to not let our children see us freak out suggests you prefer to be a passive parent. Our children should learn from parents OUR values. We should not gloss over the lack of values of our society. You apparently embrace the free love (all examples of it) and try to be so open minded that you've lost your common senses. Sure the ad has beautiful people and sure it's suppose to be racy, but keep it in a magazine.

Anonymous said...

What are they selling again??? I was so distracted by the ad. Adults have the right to do almost anything, behind closed doors... not on a public billboard.

Anonymous said...

Pretty sure the ad was designed to incite controversy by stoking the ire of everyone with an opinion and a keyboard. Good work. I'm sure they appreciate the free publicity.

Richard Billings said...

Of all the ways you could dissect these images, the fact that your main argument is rooted in borderline homophobia is disappointing. I wouldn't expect much less from a writing that catered to a Charlotte audience, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Is there a 'support pimpin' ribbon pasted on the billboard? Only then, might i take offense...

Anonymous said...

So why do kids have to look at this garbage?

Anonymous said...

Do not buy CK... Ever... And tell your friends to tell their friends.

Anonymous said...

Does it look anything like that orgy you went to?

cltmalaise said...

Viva Calvin Klein and his cronies! I get a big chuckle out of anything that "stirs the pot" of the blah breeder society of Charlotte. Ha!

Architectonic said...

The only reason kids will buy it is because there parents are calling it soft porn. I for one am fine with it and I am fine with my future kids seeing it because they get messages just as bad from abercrombie, teens magazines, and tv shows/movies. Why should we censor advertising if we dont censor it all. If Parents feel that it is too provocative then dont buy it and dont endorse it. If you are already doing that, you dont need to do anything else. I for one wear CK and i do not because of the ads but because it is a good product....i actually chuckle when people get in a "hissy" about the ads. Grow up people. Its a PICTURE.

Mary said...

It's OK.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Is there a 'support pimpin' ribbon pasted on the billboard? Only then, might i take offense...

6/16/2009 4:31 PM

OMG that is such a good point. She's offended by that, but this ad the size of a city block is nothing to freak out about and nothing our kids wil make a big deal out of if we don't . But the support pimpin ribbbon is unnacceptable... Please. Loved your comment

Anonymous said...

When is Calvin Klein going to introduce a line of leather bondage underwear or latex bondage underwear. I can't wait to see those ads when I come off the subway. Have a guy with with leather mask and sultry eyesa hugging a dog. Hey it's art!

Anonymous said...

Calvin Klein should have a picture of three women in nothing but undies with dollar bills stuffed in them kneeling in front of a man and stuffing cash in the fly of his briefs with the slogan "Support Pimpin"

Anonymous said...

Too funny. She was offended at the Pimpin' bumper sticker b/c it referred to men who make a living degrading women (to paraphase her words). But I'll bet dollars to donuts she'd say this picture "empowers" women.

Have the 3 guys stuffing dollar bills in the gal's panties with 'Support Whoring'? Deirdre's all for it!

Anonymous said...

love my calvin klein jeans! They were bought on sale or clearance; for comfort and fit and price, I was not looking for a particular designer jean. They are a weekend jean style I believe. I received so many compliments on them and been looking for calvin klein jeans ever since just like them.
As for the adds, just what do we expect from calvin? as he has been at these adds for a number of years now, and I must say thru the years the attention first given to the adds looking back seems not that shocking years later. Don't know if that is good or bad? So maybe rather than blame the designer for the type of adds he uses for jeans, and what we think as we view them....maybe it is some of the american behaviors of the 'now' times that some find shocking instead and when we think we see this type of behavior shown on a billboard add we don't like that reality? Just a few questions I ask myself and wonder too? If this add no longer gets attention or seems 'shocking' or offends? What is calvin thinking and planning for the next add?
Still too I ask myself, as I love my calvin jeans, no adds are even needed for selling calvin's jeans ;) the product speaks for itself and sells instead
or inspite of the adds ;)

Anonymous said...

Quit overreacting. I walk by the ad, and others like it, as do other locals, and it's no big deal. Selling sex? Old hat. For the young generation, who doesn't dress up to attract attention, to look good, and to feel like they look good. It happens, and ads like this don't cause anything but perhaps an affinity to a certain brand.

What's the big deal? That an impressionable kid who has never seen this stuff is likely to walk through the streets of New York, see an add like this, and want to engage in a bisexual experience? Or that the kid will simply realize that those experiences are out there? Concern for your child because he is susceptible to such advertisements bceause he is otherwise lacking in judgment or guidance? Or for others' children?