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September 09, 2008

It's Like Pinky and the Brain...

Pinky_brain A random thought for today that cropped up as I responded in the comments section relating to the big particle 'buster' that is being switched on today. I remember my first few days at university, thinking 'oh wow.' I had a lot of male instructors that were intelligent. I remember one math professor who could add huge numbers in his head; how impressive I thought. I had a biochemistry professor who'd dabble with recombinant DNA. I remember expanding my reading material to such a degree, that I also gained my first pair of reading glasses after developing a killer case of eyestrain that would result in annoying daily headaches.

The books that lined my bookshelves, that are still present, ranged from biology to killer viruses; I read books like The Hot Zone, when the Ebola virus started spreading its wings in Africa, but over a short period, I arrived to one conclusion; that I could only cope with men (should I need to have a relationship) that were real, that didn't compartmentalize everything from emotions to communication. Despite all that is written about James Watson, how many of his comments are taken out of context (many have claimed him to be racist), one of the most interesting events I attended was a talk given by the great scientist, who along with Francis Crick, put DNA on the map. He was older, in fact 'old' and that gave him an aura of experience; he didn't suffer fools and didn't give a shit about political correctness. He stated his opposition to eugenics (and eugenics and racism tend to walk hand in hand) and saw the developments in DNA technology as a preventative tool rather than a way to create any superior 'race', but there are a few morons today that refer to him as a racist because they take a few things he says out of context, to add their own personal interpretations. People love creating demons, devils and anti-Christs; does the devil really exist or is the devil an ancient example of a contemporary horror fiction story?

With one day to go (for the US, anyway, due to the time difference) until the world is supposed to 'feel' the impact of this new Large Hadron Collider, I find the entire exercise amusing. It's amusing to think that a few think that the 'end is nigh' already; how boring would the world be if we didn't have The Apocalyptics (my term for doomsayers) to entertain us every now and then, but even so, these sorts of people tend to provide a reminder of things that are more of a priority. It's not like humans will be able to go to Mars within the next decade, but here we are providing funds (our governments providing funds) to send little Tonka-like probes to the planet, simply to say, 'oh yeah there's water! OMG'. I guess we've always wanted to know our origin, but what if our origin relates to a teeny-tiny cell that arrived here via a hunk of space junk that collided with the Earth? How do you trace the origin if that is the case? And if it's not the case, how long does it take to trace human origin? But really, does this really matter when we have the problems that we have now?

I think a lot of science is about escapism; it's like a quest to find another world to escape from our own shite. Science, centuries ago, was more about solving our own problems, but over time, it has become about answering abstract questions that the general public don't understand, will never understand, and one cannot really blame them. How important is Mars to them when they're trying to keep their homes from the banker? Some of the most soulless men (and some women, but I had more male teachers at university) I've come across, I've come across at university; after two years, I'd think, 'how empty are these people?' Many lost track of the everyday significance of their lives; I had one professor that had four research projects going, he earned four doctorates in his lifetime, being a prodigy of sorts, to die of a massive heart attack, leaving two children behind; he didn't smoke, drink or eat junk food, but synchronicity or God or whatever it is caught up with him. Call it 'the universe' catching up with him, giving him alerts from time to time, to take a break; he'd discuss some of his failed experiments, but he still wouldn't stop, he'd continue. He'd practically live at the university, so in a small way, it's like the universe catching up; "You don't listen to me when I give you small indications, so cop this – heart attack." I have a saying, that I've taken from relatives over the years, and it's provincial, totally 'Greek' and concise: "Everything is paid for on this Earth." It tends to obliterate the 'after life' funland of heaven or dungeon of hell, and tends to emphasize the importance of life in the now, and some of these scientists don't have any idea about that, some of them groping for every theory they can think of, while others disperse their contemporary philosophies; there is no one that is less fun to me, in the world of philosophy than Peter Singer. I admire his arguments; in fact, I think no academic can construct the arguments Singer can construct. It's the way his brain ticks. I don't know how to phrase it, but if he were a politician, he'd out-argue every politician on this planet; it's amazing how certain people have vocations in other arenas. Singer chose ethics; why didn't his life path bring him to politics? Strange huh? But even though he has some of the most scintillating arguments, he lacks a soul. At uni, when we went through our Singer period, I often wondered what would happen if you pricked Peter Singer with a needle? Would he bleed? Further on, people look at the later images of Albert Einstein, particularly the 'fun' image where he's poking his tongue out, and think 'aww how cute and fun?' But Einstein was anything but fun. This was a huge disappointment to me, but poke your nose in any Einstein biography and you'll be introduced to the blind ambition and soulnessness of Einstein. Apart from having a fetish about female asses, he wasn't a fatherly figure, hardly involving himself with his first batch of children in Europe. When his theory of relativity hit the news, he was like a science equivalent of Paris Hilton: publicity, publicity and more publicity. But what the hell are we doing with this theory today? Does this theory really make a difference for those that experience tribal massacres, starvation and death? Not really. How does one distinguish the value or the raw value/potential of theories? Is Charles Darwin more significant than Albert Einstain? In many ways, he is because his theory relates to the tangible world. When you read about Sir Isaac Newton, you'll come across a man that was more intelligent than Albert Einstein, and by intelligent, I mean a man that had various abilities, that didn't restrict himself to one area.

Don't get me wrong, I didn't mind going to university. I liked the knowledge but the real dilemma for me related to what I was going to do with the knowledge? I didn't see myself working under some academic wanker (for that wanker to take the credit), to delve in things I didn't agree with ethically, and I'm strange like that. Here am I, a person that didn't fret about cadavers, or catching a quick coffee during morning dissections (to wake up after a study all nighter), but when a lab demonstrator told me that we had 'spare rats' for dissection (to pass the time during our last prac after mid-year finals finished), I told him I didn't want to do it, for him to press on:

"But you have to. That is our lab for today," he said.
"I've dissected twenty rats this year, and I don't see the point when our exams are over," I replied. He didn't like my 'lip' or attitude. But fuck me, I thought, do we really have to do it for the sake of doing it? Trust me, I can dissect a rat today, and point out all the organs with a 99.9% accuracy. I told my lab demonstrator that I was going to use my three hours at the café and library instead. He didn't appreciate it, telling me he'd mark me as being 'absent' without reason. I told him that I didn't give a shit, and that's the good thing about university, you can tell your 'teachers' or instructors literally; you don't "give a shit" and you won't cop a detention or suspension. I didn't think he'd care. After two years, I'd witnessed grown 'brainy' men in labs without any heart or soul, but when I told him I didn't give a shit, and further, 'dissecting spare rats not being significant on the scale of everything,' he didn't know what the fuck to say to me or how to react. His face actually moved; he was pissed off, but he couldn't do anything about me leaving the lab. He probably wondered if I'd create a massive protest against pointless vivisection, and that is what it was – pointless. Just because the faculty of behavioral science (the psychology department) had spare rats, I didn't see the point of dissecting them for the hundredth time. He kept on persisting, for me to tell him that I didn't fucking need to find another rat thyroid gland. So I gathered my belongings and made my way out of the lab. And that is the problem with mature age students. We tend to see the bullshit first hand, and aren't as malleable (or gullible) as an eighteen year old first year straight from high school, and I think that this can be a problem in science, especially when scientists enter college without experiencing the real world (straight from high school) or having a chance to get in tough with their empathy on a real scale – which is why I believe that all teenagers should undergo a form of community service before they enter colleges. That way they'll see how their community works. They can volunteer at hospitals and see the various ways diseases operate and the indiscriminate nature of disease, how diseases affect neonates to the elderly.

The most valuable experience for me (knowledge aside) during my university years didn't relate to the books I could access or the extended version of scientific information, it related to expanding my own understanding of my self – in relation to science. I don't think that science is 'empty' or soulless on its own; people make it empty by the attitude or approach (maybe their lacking evolution) they bring; it's not about the methodology being empty, the methodology is fine as it eliminates bias and/or corruption, but even though scientists today proclaim to search for meaning, they have few ideas about 'meaning' or have removed themselves from the zeitgeist or human pulse. Many times (at university) I'd ask myself about the beauty of everything and if my teachers really explored that aspect or focused more on the 'practical' and soulless side. Many were about control. How they could control quantities, and I guess that gave them some semblance of power; some of them had difficulty controlling their personal wardrobes for chrissake, but the idea for them to control biology, by combining mammalian DNA with non-mammalian DNA, was like a massive erection for them. They had control. And it made me wonder if they really had control in their personal life? Did they feel content with the simple things in life or were they always dissatisfied? These sorts of blokes (and women) at uni, would make me feel sad (for them) but the irony is that they'd most likely feel sad for me.

Life, for me, is rather empty if a human being can't put a smile on someone's face or touch another human in any way or form. And that was the take home message for me, the very thing that made me change my mind about the course I was studying at university; I couldn't be that factual, empty person that relied on data and kept humanity at arm's length. So what do I really think about the search for the 'god particle' at a cost of 9 billion dollars? I think it's sad or sad that a portion of scientists feel that this is the way to go in order to make a difference to life, even if it doesn't make a difference – they're only looking to test a theory (not a medical or social theory), but at an astronomical cost.

September 08, 2008

Secret Men's Business...

I like shopping for men’s things (clothes, accessories and bric-a-brac) because male shop assistants are a totally different breed to your female garden variety; firstly, they don’t operate on a preconceived notion of ‘all women being insecure.’ If you don’t believe me, enter any department store and try buying simple facial moisturizer; you’re assessed by age, ‘wrinkles’ (or crows feet as they are called by the cosmetic counter pussy posse) and given suggestions that almost break the frigging bank. The La Prairie range for skincare is the cream of the crop; it’ll set you back a minimum of five hundred dollars for your standard ‘three step routine’ and I think it’s bollocks. Everyone ought to know that no amount of fancy chemicals they add in moisturizers isn’t going to inhibit skin damage (solar damage) unless there’s an in-built SPF. Anyway…

I had to accompany my son to buy a father’s day present. We settled on a cordless shaver, and of course I had no idea about them. I don’t shave my face. The first thing I was asked:

“How coarse is the facial hair?”

As me anything. Ask me about the probability of being struck by lightning versus finding your soulmate, and I’ll have an answer. Ask me about average penis size, and I’ll give you an answer. If you want a quickie lesson in penile anatomy, the cardiovascular system or the complexities of the renal system, I can give you an answer. If you want to know who created the color “Shocking or Hot Pink,” I can even tell you that (Elsa Schiaparelli - it’s something I retained from my high school years and my first ambition, to be a fashion designer). As for shavers? You’ve got to be kidding me. I don’t use an epilator on my legs because I find it far too torturous; it’s like plucking hair in batches. I tried to use an epilator on my bikini line once, and I wasn’t happy, disposing of the horrible ‘Christmas present’ (nothing says ‘gift’ more than a hair removing machine eh?), so I thought, ‘why do men have it easy?’ Why don’t they have epilators hmmm?

“If the growth is course, the rotary blades won’t do,” the assistant said. I kept staring at his clean shaven face, wondering which version he used?

“It’s not as course as an iron file,” I said, so he showed me the appropriate electric shavers, but - as all assistants do - hovered around shavers in the three hundred dollar range, which I thought incredible. I didn’t have that kind of dough; I had all my earnings from Saturday Night in the Kitchen. Not bad I may add; more than what I’d make in a day at the stupid telco, but I also needed to stock up on cat food on the way home.

“I’m looking for something that does the job, between a hundred and a hundred and fifty,” I said. I’m not a tightarse, but I do know about the (few hundred) percent added to the wholesale price of things. I eventually settled for a Braun, but there was more. Assistants love selling you other shite. I caved and bought a lubricant - yes, you do apparently need a spray lubricant for electric shavers, but I stopped short of buying the ‘facial oil’ that apparently, ‘lifts the hair, enabling a smoother shave.’ Yep, sales spiel that I immediately registered as ‘bullshit’ in my circumstance. It’s not like my son’s dad has a Neanderthal crop of neck hair each morning. I declined, maintained my stance because I knew I’d get a sample, not that I needed or wanted one, but he gave it to me anyway, which was kind I suppose. After all, what are samples for?

Me? I prefer shopping for menswear and accessories. As for the male ranges of skincare, I think they’re a bit over the top. Men don’t need much in the sense of facial care. When they shave their faces each day, they exfoliate. A moisturizer is just packaging really; real skin care occurs from within. Its dietary more so than face creams. My own personal skin secret isn’t anything exciting. I eat a lot of olive oil. I don’t use margarine to butter my bread, I dip it in olive oil. Every salad I make, is dressed with olive oil. I’ll also use light olive oil (not Virgin) for cooking. But good skin care is also about eating lots of veggies and fruit. One thing that is obvious, especially when women go on those ludicrous diets, is their skin. It’s one of the first things to go when they deny themselves good fats and restrict their fruit intake (due to fructose - which is the fruit version of sugar). They say that women, as they get older, have to decide whether they sacrifice their face to maintain their arse; me I’d rather let my arse be cushy than resemble a gaunt scarecrow for the sake of my butt. After all, the first thing a person sees is your face, and if they’re focused on your arse (as the first thing) then I think there’s something really ‘gay’ about that to begin with.

The other thing I love about shopping for blokey things is that male assistants really listen to you when you tell them that you’re “looking” (which means, ‘bugger off, leave me alone’). Males store assistants ‘get that’ and leave you alone to look, they don’t hover like their life depends on a commission. On the whole though, I'm pretty good at shopping (for male things). I can pick a winning shirt. I'm great at tie selection, and I can give you a shortlist of suit brands that are noted for fit, fabric and style.


The End of the World on Wednesday?

Blackhole Get ready to shag like mad, get high, loot, or gorge on naughty food because the countdown is on (apparently) from this Wednesday. And you thought it would be global warming? The "Nostradamus" third world war and/or anti-Christ? Try a big arsed machine - the largest ever gadget known to the world that'll be switched on this Wednesday. When I read this article, I didn't know whether to laugh or think, 'Jesus H Christ WTF?' Then I thought, 'can the end wait until I get my tax refund?'

The machine is called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and it is located in Geneva. It's said to be the largest instrument on this planet and its function? To produce shitloads of data that scientists can access and analyze. By shitloads, I mean 15 Petabytes (15 million gigabytes) and it's all part of the Worldwide LHC computing grid.

You'll have to read the full newspaper article for a detailed breakdown in how the world is hypothesized to end but it basically involves the creation of a black hole that'll be like the blowjob of cosmic proportions.
What did make me laugh, even if it is macabre or bizarre, relates to German chemist Otto Rossler arguing that, should this gadget end everything then it would violate the right to live and the right to private family life. That's nice to know isn't it? Because once the ball started rolling, it would all end faster than a fart so there is no chance of a class (or global) action lawsuit, is there?

If a black hole did eventuate could you really blame the geeks who want this gadget? If they knew (in their calculations) that there was a probability of a black hole, could one hypothesize that they're secretly pushing the extreme limit, that they want to see what an Apocalypse would be like? Scientists tend to go bat-shit crazy about things they shouldn't be doing. One of the reasons I reversed my decision to follow science at uni was the proportion of nutty professors I had, the kind that had mad glints in their eye when they discussed the 'fantastic possibilities' that could result if you combined mammalian DNA with vegetable DNA; it makes Mary Shelley's Frankenstein look like a Golden Book kid's tale. I told my female relative this today when we were discussing science over the phone and why I took a detour; "some of the scientists at uni had no soul," I said, "they were so embroiled with their extreme curiosities that they never considered consequences." And that is true for things like the nuclear bomb. Oppenheimer didn't really allow the consequences to hinder his work or his team's work, going so far as to remember (from the Bhagavad-Gita) the quote "Now I am become death, the destroyer of all worlds," and it's ironic how it takes a huge nuclear explosion (test) for scientists to realize that. But they already knew that; Marie Curie was aware of the dangerous potential.

So if the world ends this Wednesday...it's been nice knowing you all, but I wouldn't be hanging around on the Net if I were you. Go out, fuck like rabbits, gorge on all the food your doctor tells you to avoid (life is short, but according to the 'Armageddon speak', life is even shorter if a black hole suddenly appears under Geneva), have a few drinks, a few smokes (it's not like they're going to kill you know is it?) and have twenty minute HOT showers, don't worry about the recycled trash and thank the geeks in Geneva for creating the doomsday machine.

(I doubt anything will happen, but the Armageddon-ists out there can't function unless they have some 'end of the world' stimulation from time to time -I feel sorry for people like that, I really do but I also have bad days when all I want to do is stab them in the eye with my metal Parker pen; I'm terrible, I know).

There is one consolation: at least black holes are pretty. The last thing you need on your last day on this earth is to be confronted with a galactic eyesore.

September 06, 2008

When it rains, it pours but the cleansing is what matters

It's been one of those weeks. I haven't done much at home. I've had an erratic Internet connection due to the constant rainy onslaught, and that has annoyed me to the point where I gave up calling my Internet Service Provider demanding information; it's annoying when you pay the bills and receive shitty service or products, and Internet connection in Australia is still rubbish in my view.

Earlier this week, as I've mentioned, I was contacted by a female relative who isn't a direct blood relative per se, but once I began giving her an update about my life of the past five years, I realized the different route I've taken. Call it fortune or call it weird circumstance, but if I hadn't ceased all contact with my half brother (her former partner) I would have been in a different place that would not have been that positive. Then again, I didn't have a chance because I had to make immediate decisions that completely altered my path; deferring university and entering the real world of work was one of those decisions but if I hadn't done that, this blog wouldn't exist, but more importantly, I would not have been writing short stories or other tales. And even though that can be viewed as a positive, it has had its moments.

There is no easy way to write. Most writers live double lives – negotiating day jobs and writing after official work hours. It can drain a person emotionally and/or physically, and it is one reason why I'm currently taking time out from writing erotic short stories and focusing on writing other stories that don’t revolve around sexual encounters. The prime reason behind this decision is related to my current medicated state. I'm not a zombie, but I had to take a detour; it's what happens when one negotiates between sanity and everyday chaos.

I told my relative that I'd be working this weekend, namely tonight, and she asked what I'd be doing. She didn't expect me to say that I'd be working as a kitchen grunt this weekend. It's only for one night, and it gives me a taste of normalcy; let me tell you, working in a demanding kitchen is unlike a silly office. You either do, or you're told to 'hurry the fuck up,' there is no room for political correctness or paper-pushing bureaucratic bullshit. And I like that, even though I can't see myself working in a kitchen as a permanent state of being, but it's a lively change from working in an office. I also updated my relative about the office saga, and how I'd had enough of working with bitches, office sluts and spineless bastards. And no, it isn't about my temperament; I'm one of the easiest people to work with but I've had the shitty luck of working in shitty office spaces, but apart from that, I am not really cut out to assess the person behind the desk because they put on a façade most of the time. I have to admit. I don't read people that well, especially if those people put on an office act of niceness.

What shocked her was my choice. But I had potential. But I was doing well. But this and but that, but at the end of the day I had a half blood relative, my brother, being a bastard on a daily basis, and something had to give; I severed the relationship and moved on. Life is too short to have poisonous people in your life. If it's not the stress that can kill, it will be a toxic human being. I'm not complaining about the now, although I do wish I could just take a breather every now and then. I can't say that my life is what I planned it to be, then again did I really plan that well? I didn't and that can be partially blamed on me (as an adult) and the guardians that thought they were capable during my childhood and teenage years; you don't have much control when you're a child and you have a parent in a downward spiral and foster parents that are deluded to the point of thinking that something akin to whoredom is a must-have for females. But you live, you learn and you do the best that you can do, finding something that maintains an even keel and if it turns out all right, then that will have to do.

So tonight, as I enter the steamy kitchen, and work on everything from starters to dishes, I'll be content knowing that I've never sold myself, my values or standards for any bastard or bitch; and that, to me, is what counts in the end.

Crikey, It's a Lolcat!

One of the best Lolcats to date

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September 05, 2008

Links: From Britney to Lily 'Alco' Allen

It's raining, pouring and I'm hoping it won't be this ratty all weekend. Dealing with a leaking roof is a pain in the butt, but I thought I'd kick off the weekend with the following links:

Should Fashion Designers Appearing in 'that spread' in Vogue India Be Boycotted?/Priya Tanna is a Stupid Cunt

When I did work experience in fashion as a high school student, I loved the pomp of it all. Although a bitchy industry, there is always something to gossip or laugh about, that's if the head designer isn't something to laugh about if they're camp beyond belief, which was what I experienced at the first fashion house (I won't name the designer here). I don't believe that a person's sexuality (in the case of fashion – homosexuality) immediately gives them a passport to style. You can't compare Tom Ford with Marc Jacobs; the former put Gucci back on the map and the latter continually creates fashion atrocities. So no, the 'gay' aspect doesn't immediately provide superiority. Coco Chanel wasn't a gay male and she made a huge dent in women's fashion.

01vogue02_190 The last fuss in the fashion world or the fashion publication world relates to Vogue India and their 'creative' use of poverty-chic to create a wave of controversy. Vogue India's editor is using the lame excuse – to illustrate the power of fashion. Power of fashion eh? It's something that you can only expect a fashion editor to say. Sure we'd like to believe that we're all born equal, but if that were the case, then why do some women become Nobel winning scientists while others prefer to push the superficial line?

In one of the photographs, an old Indian man is holding a two hundred dollar Burberry umbrella. The old man is obviously living in a slum of sorts, not dressed in a Saville Row suit, and the resulting disparity has led to outrage. What do the designers say? What do companies like Burberry say about these photo shoots? Nothing so far; is it the magazine's fault, the editor's fault (for being idiotic) or the fashion label's fault for not having creative control. And if they did have creative control, then what the fuck is that company thinking? Yes we know that Burberry is a high end fashion label, but do they need to highlight that by having their products photographed in what resembles a slum, held by an individual that doesn't fit the image (financially?), and is it his personal fault that he doesn't earn enough money in this world of inequality masked as 'fantastic globalization?' The idea of featuring models, in this case ordinary (impoverished) citizens to model luxury items is an insult. It has been viewed as being callous and out of touch, and yeah, if someone tells me that there is a growing middle class in India, I'll just point them to my house phone and tell them to wait for the latest round of telemarketers so they can answer the phone. I doubt that the customer service army in Bangalore can afford Burberry, let alone Prada but there are people in India who can afford it, so use models that fit the part.

Continue reading "Should Fashion Designers Appearing in 'that spread' in Vogue India Be Boycotted?/Priya Tanna is a Stupid Cunt" »

Style & Luxury fashion is and isn't (purely) about money

What is luxury? More specifically, what is a luxury product? A luxury product is something that most people cannot readily afford. It’s that simple but there is more. A luxury item is an item that doesn’t cost the earth to manufacture, but has other costs factored into the product. If you take any luxury label, and you assess everything, from magazine marketing campaigns (advertising) to the rents it pays across the world - to occupy space in a department store to the building it uses as a ‘boutique’, the costs are astronomical. Then you factor in the behind the scenes marketing costs: photographers, models (in many cases known public personalities), makeup artists, wardrobe stylists, and you have more expenses, so a luxury item, like a Louis Vuitton product has all these prices factored into the retail price. Although the quality may seem superior, the materials are usually similar to what you will buy elsewhere.

My simplest example is a Napa leather Oroton handbag that I recently bought at an Oroton outlet. The bag is black (goes with everything), it’s a good size and it has a classic design (that really doesn’t go out of style) but it is out of season (for the label) and it was sold in their outlet store for $175 dollars. However, its retail price was $325.00. Now I know that the company will earn a profit from the $175.00. Companies make sure that the cost is accounted for, which means that this bag must have cost less than fifty dollars to manufacture. In other words, how much (raw cost price) are other luxury items? I guess it’s more obvious to state the obvious - people tend to pay more for a name than the ‘real’ cost, and no, I don’t really care for the excuses: ‘but it’s SUPERIOR quality,’ excuses that may as well be hinged with, ‘it was constructed from the hand of God himself.’ Sorry but I don’t buy it. I’ve known people who have worked in the rag and fashion trade to know that wholesale prices are low and that the manufacturing costs are even lower; products enter the boutique with mind boggling prices. Take a fashion and accessories label like Coach. I don’t care that it’s been around since 1941. Who cares? But its products aren’t made in the US of A, they’re made in Asian countries. How much do you think they pay the workers? Let’s take a cheaper item from their catalogue, something that is priced at $98.00 (US). Factor in advertising, rents (around the world for stores because all these luxury boutiques don’t own their buildings outright), marketing campaigns (photographers to models to makeup artists), how much do you think that  product is to make before it enters the store? Less than twenty dollars? Less than thirty dollars? Most likely.

Thus, luxury to me, is all about presenting an image. The buyer is a person that associates luxury products with status, and in most cases, many buyers are tacky; money doesn’t buy class, nor does it buy decorum. Kelly Osborne may wear all the Chanel handbags in the world, but her style is shabby.


Continue reading "Style & Luxury fashion is and isn't (purely) about money" »

The EU Has a Fit Over Sex & Advertising

I don’t have a problem with attractive people advertising perfume, clothes or makeup, but I do have a problem watching women advertising household cleaning items or appliances. It’s not they’re fault; they want to earn money, are on an agency’s books and it’s a simple fact of life: you go where the money is and speaking roles in television commercials pay a lot of money. Who’d say no to that? The only catch 22 is that women are continually stereotyped as the key holders of the domestic dimension.

Winston In Europe, a revolution is unfolding and I think it's silly considering there are other more pressing social problems that need to be dealt with. This revolution aims to reduce gender stereotypes in television commercials, and it isn’t about women; adverts such as Beckham’s Armani undie advert are also viewed negatively. The EU members’ report isn’t legally binding but it can set out examples for future adverts and alter the future of sex-in-advertising.

Who is at fault when stereotypes live in television adverts? I don’t think the actors are to blame; they have to eat and pay their bills. As for David Beckham? Forget him, he has enough money from his astronomical deal with Galaxy to advertise Armani, so doesn’t really ‘need’ the money as much as a struggling actor or a mature adult that does TV work to make ends meet. Beckham is an anomaly, as are supermodels and other actors that earn extra pocket money advertising products (like George Clooney). Extras and small-time actors should protest against these celebrity behemoths, tell them to stick to their sport and Hollywood films, and stay out of their domain. The 'sexualized' adverts of today are in your face, usually boring or silly, and don't play on anything other than a celebrity's body (ahem Beckham) or identity. Take the old Winston cigarette advert image above. Sure, it has a female in the main picture, but it also makes a subtle dig about what is supposed to 'count' but leaves the reader/viewer wondering: is it the penis or the cigarette? It could be one or the other. It could be both. But the female in the ad isn't some 'barely legal' piece of ass or a questionable (drug addled) celebrity model or pop star either.

Every country has advertising codes but only few people complain. I mean, life is too short and there are other significant issues than calling up an advertising standards council to complain about a sixty second advert on dishwashing liquid. The adverts I loathe on television are those that are shown late at night; they’re allowed to show ads like ‘Girls Gone Wild’ or the stupid phone sex adverts at that time, but I’ve never made a formal complaint to the ad council because I know I’ll be told that the adverts comply with code (due to the time they’re shown on television). If they were shown at 6pm, then there’d be hell to pay for the network, but networks have teams of lawyers and their job is to check advertising codes but you will, occasionally, have a few complaints about adverts. And when I say ‘few’, I mean less than ten.  People can’t be bothered and it’s interesting because the adverts that have been complained about in Australia are adverts that aren’t sexual.

One advert for a car manufacturer depicted a small child driving a car. The ad was pure fantasy, playing on the inner child concept, but it received complaints harping on about social irresponsibility and other things. The viewers didn’t get it, so the ad was edited. Another advert for cup-a-soup showed a female police officer chasing a bag snatcher, to tackle him to the ground and give him an ass whipping, but that was deemed ‘violent’ by those that complained. The ad was pulled off the air. Tell me, really, what would you do if you came across a bag snatcher? Would you simply let them skip along with your belongings or would you tackle them to the ground and give them a hiding if you knew you could take them on?

The idea of adverts creating ‘sexism’ is silly. People do have control over their perceptions and people are aware that advertising exists to sell, and the methods employed focus on attention. After all, you only have thirty to sixty seconds (in most countries) to capture your audience’s attention, so repulsing the viewer or boring them shitless isn’t a really great idea.

After all, who are you going to have to advertise a perfume? A hobo? As for perfume adverts. Perfumes are all about the fantasy surrounding fragrance. So what if an attractive woman is advertising perfume? Is it criminal? Some would say that it objectifies women, or that it promotes false ideals, but come on, who is free from objectification? We all objectify something, and the object doesn’t have to be human. People are more guilty of objectifying their ‘gods’, transforming them into masculine father-like images with specific (edited) human traits; yes they get ‘angry’ but they’re free from being ‘mean’. I mean, come on already.

I no longer get angry at the advert; I think of the moronic executive on the other side that comes up with the stupid idea of (once again) depicting a female in a kitchen praising yet another oven cleaner. How creative is that? I'm more creative when I unload a number two as I'm reading The Sydney Morning Herald on the throne - that's what I call multi-tasking.

September 04, 2008

PETA Take Note: Bimbo Nudes are Passé

Shark_wideweb__470x3680 This image may look like something from Lollapalooza but it's actually a protest against shark fishing for fins at a UK Lush outlet.

It kind of makes the PETA nudes look like pretentious photo shoots. When will PETA realize that the bulk of mainstream society are completely over Pamela Anderson Lee, her hair flicking and fake boobs?

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