Monday, August 30, 2004

And so I rear my head once more...
I've been silent for far too long, I know, but I'm back. I needed to be isolated for a bit, figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Ever get that way? Like a sick animal that just wants to curl up in a cave by himself. That was me, broke and freaking out about it, trying to get the taste of that awful place out of my soul and wondering what the heck to do next.

So, on to today's thought...

I am a fashion conscientious objector (as opposed to victim), and as such, I’m proud to say that I just don’t get it. I simply do not understand how women can pay thousands of dollars for the privilege of torturing themselves with uncomfortable articles of clothing and footwear that will be out of style in a year. I fail to see the attraction of it all. And, personally, I just cannot believe that I will be mesmerizingly more attractive to the opposite sex if I wear shoes that I cannot walk in, jeans that I cannot breathe in, and sweaters that cost more than a month’s salary.

Nor do I understand the creative rationale behind fashion ads. Why do photographers insist on putting models into situations where the clothing they wear cost more than the entire building? Are derelict warehouses that conjure up the remembered scent of old urine and fresh vomit the natural landscape for hand-tooled Italian leather boots and English cashmere sweaters?

Do $300 dollar bathing suits get shown to better advantage against a graffiti-littered brick alleyway as opposed to, oh say, a beach perhaps?

Don’t they realize that the kinds of individuals who typically haunt these decrepit locales are highly unlikely to have platinum American Express cards – and the kinds of individuals who can easily drop $1000 on a blouse or a pair of shoes rarely find themselves surrounded by rusted chain-link fences, weed-spattered parking lots, and broken concrete?

Perhaps that’s what the “victim” in the phrase “fashion victim” means. Someone who, if they appeared wearing that clothing in that setting, would become a victim. A statistic. A “hey, I’m wearing more on my ass that you own in your whole life, so why not come over and rob me” kind of victim.

It just doesn’t make sense. Oh sure, a few marketeers actually put their models in the appropriate setting. Perfectly air-brushed androids posed majestically against one Hampton or another. Lounging languidly on a yacht. Sipping something frosty on a sun-dappled terrace in the south of someplace.

But all too frequently fashion ads resemble nothing more than crime scene photos, minus the chalk outline. Looking variously bored or miserable, anorexic mutant babes lean poutily against a scarred brick wall. Strong-jawed men, like show dogs, slouch into a chair with ripped upholstery in a tawdry motel room with an acid neon glow. Pseudo lesbian melodramas enacted with a freaky tableau vivant flair in empty and cracked swimming pools.

Like the hidden morality in 17th century Dutch still-life paintings, this emphasis on so-called beauty in the midst of decay seems to serve as a twisted commentary on life. But whereas the Dutch saw the presence of a rotting peach as a reminder of the fleetingness of beauty and the importance of a moral life – here the condemned warehouse seems to say “hey, life is short so you might as well blow an obscene amount of money on killer boots.”

In addition, it adds a touch of class to poverty that further removes the conspicuously conspicuous consumer from the homeless, the hopeless, and the just plain poor. After all, how bad can it be to live in a deserted garage if it’s good enough for Ralph Lauren? And how easy to walk by some hairy, cart-pushing bum when he’s walking past a building that could, at any moment, be filled with well-built, oiled-up young studs in $50 boxer shorts?

Nope, I just don’t get it. And I’m damned glad about that.

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