Calvin Klein, Brooklyn
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, "Where are you from?" The kid answers that he's from Brooklyn. The man says, "You have a lovely body, do you like your body?" He answers that he does, and then the interviewer inquires whether the kid would like to see something improved on his body. He says he likes his body as it is and the man adds "Those jeans look real good on you."
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, these ads appear 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.
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