Calvin Klein, Brandon


In an unusually controversial Calvin Klein campaign made to look like child pornography, youth are asked revealing questions by an unseen man from behind the camera.

The male interviewer says, "You've got pretty blue eyes. Where did you get them from? What's your name? Where are you from?" Brandon answers that he's from Kentucky. The man says that the shorts fit Brandon real well.

While the other ads in the campaign included women, a number of boys were also asked by the man to remove clothing, perform and answer probing questions as well. Some of the young men are uncomfortable while others appear to be street-savvy. While research shows that pedophilia is more often perpetrated by men who identify as heterosexual, this ad appears to support the myth that gay men seek to molest young boys -- especially if a viewer doesn't see the interviews with young women.

Of course, fashion advertising is usually about sex, but Klein has many times created media storms over his ads. This campaign may have taken the title since President Clinton even derided the effort -- when he had his own better moral standing. Klein not only relented in response, he even issued a statement of apology.

Amazingly, the Justice Department was convinced to conduct an investigation to see if the models were "under age." This is ludicrous, since there is no age limit to being a model or actor -- the age investigation implied that the ads were actually pornographic.

Nonetheless, such advertising efforts are disingenuous, since their intent is to incite publicity, and are not unusual from fashion advertisers with small media budgets such as Klein, Diesel and Benetton.

User Comments
I really feel bad for this kid. I know he's acting, but it makes me feel bad.

Umm, I don't really think this ad should be linked with homosexuality. The fact the there's such a reaction to this ad shows something about how we buy into certain stereotypes.

I was pretty creeped out by this, it reminded me of a scene I once saw in a horror movie about a child molestor. (shudder)

Well, I loved it. I just don't think it is bad, I would be more comfortable undressing if I were asked. Initially there are chills and fears, but later it could be fun. Being molested by gay men MUST BE FUN, I mean it should be worth enjoying!

I thought this ad and these series of ads were obvioulsy a satire on those cheaply made soft-core porno films of the 1970s (the paneling alone should have been a dead give-away).

There was such self-righteous outrage over these "kiddie porn" ads that they were banned, which is ridiculous for ads which had models who were all in their late teens and early 20s. I realize that to a 90 year-old woman, her 65 year-old son is still her "child," but we better be careful using the term "child" or "kiddie" in the public sphere--otherwise we'll be sending 60 year-old men to prison as "pedophiles" for having consensual sex with a 30 year-old man.

And by the way, "Brandon" from this ad looks more like a classic Michaelangelo or Donatello statue clad in a denim loincloth--even if he says he's from Kentucky.

Very creepy, I can't believe this ever aired!!

Looked like a porn screen test. Although I don't think that 20 is young enough to call him a pedophile.

Scott Olson
I don't really take offense to this commercial on a gay level .. but I can't imagine what thought process led to the creation of this commercial. It's most certainly in bad taste. Why would this commercial make someone want to buy their jeans?

Jon Melusky
I think the satire of kiddy porn fails to deliver. It was too realistic for a huge cross-section of America and that was why it was banned. I think Klien realized it wasn't a good satire when he apologized for the ad. Perhaps if the young boy in the ad mentioned that he was from the Bronx, it might have been funny and if the voice of the old man behind the camera had been more over the top instead of lecherous, then it might have worked as an ad.

These ads were no doubt created to create controversy. Nevertheless, I found some of the male models in them quite beautiful. I objected strongly when they were pulled, not only because there is no legal age restriction on models or actors, but also because nothing illegal was done and it was within the First Amendment rights of Calvin Klein and their ad agency to present these ads. I think much of the perceived "pornography" in these ads was in the eyes of the beholders.

James D. Seber
These ads were very disturbing. It made me feel like I was watching a pedaphile during a predatory conquest. FILTH!!!

Patrick J. Hendricks
How many times can you say... Ick and sick?

This ad looks like those natural porn movies with amateur looking of the early 80s. Very funny ad.