February 3, 2008

A trace of ass cleavage: obscene in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

I'm sure Abercrombie & Fitch is loving the publicity.

ADDED: Related Flickr group (NSFW).

56 comments:

Meade said...

"Click for full view"

No thank you.

Bob said...

Yah, Lynnhaven Mall. Lot of military personnel live all throughout that area, and military people trend conservative and, sad to say, rather homophobic, so it's possible that some military families were offended. Then again, it could have been civilians from the outlying rural areas visiting the mall for some shopping; rural Virginians trend the same way as the military does.

Photo's rather innocent, it's not like the teens are engaging in buttsex. You see more buttcrack than that in the Norfolk black neighborhoods, actually.

Palladian said...

I don't think military men blanch at the sight of a little ass cleavage, however conservative they may be.

I think A&F is tiresome and vulgar, but those boys sure are pretty.

Bob said...

Palladian: I don't think military men blanch at the sight of a little ass cleavage, however conservative they may be.

Well, I didn't use homophobic in the sense that military guys would get the vapors and faint, but in the sense that they'd find the photo "disgusting" and mention it to someone at the mall.

Joe R. said...

I think ass cleavage deserves its own tag (or perhaps "ass, cleavage").

I would like to hear why the picture of the boys is *obscene*. Obscenity shouldn't be what we imagine some people are going to think about an image.

matthew said...

I agree with one of the commentors on the story. They should replace the 'obscene' pictures with the presumably 'non-obscene' VA flag , and then see how many complaints they get.

save_the_rustbelt said...

AF used to sell plaid shorts and floppy hats to fishermen, my how times have changed.

I'm hardly a prude, but as a parent and grandparent I'm a little tired of companies selling dry goods with sleazy sexual innuendo.

As they used to say, do what you want, but not in the street in front of the horses.

Palladian said...

Don't you understand, Matthew? A little peeping tit is HOT, a cute, studly guy's butt is OBSCENE.

Jennifer said...

Military guys are considerably more used to seeing other guys in the buff than most straight men. I highly doubt a little crack would offend your average soldier. Stop watching movies and meet some actual soldiers.

If we're going with stereotypes, I'd put money down on uptight suburbanite WOMEN having the problem here.

But they sure are pretty.

john said...

I don’t think you need to lay this issue onto one store or onto one group of people (the "naturally" homophobic, naturally conservative military families). AF stores in most malls are usually on outside corners, so either direction you go puts you face-to-ass with an 8-foot photo of bambi-boy. In addition to the pedophilic imagery, AF primarily targets it's stuff to tweens and teens. It's tying those images to that market that offends me (in addtion to the price of their stuff).

Bob, your equivalency comment about black buttcrack is even more offensive.

rhhardin said...

The plastic sextant business must have fallen off.

I still have mine, from the A&F Nautical department, from the 60s.

Largely displaced by GPS I guess.

My subscription to the Nautical Almanac has lapsed, and Bowditch is unvisited on the shelf.

Well, find a need and fill it, is the rule for businesses.

Jennifer said...

Ah, and reading the article, the other poster removed was of a topless woman covering just her nipple. Still think homophobic soldiers are the complainers here, bob?

ricpic said...

Titus can barely contain himself.

Bob said...

John: Bob, your equivalency comment about black buttcrack is even more offensive.

*shrugs* You're too easily offended, John. Best head back to your desert where you won't be offended by your fellow humans.

Bob said...

Jennifer: Ah, and reading the article, the other poster removed was of a topless woman covering just her nipple. Still think homophobic soldiers are the complainers here, bob?

I theorized military and rural civilians, which is being forgotten in the discussion. I'll say also that I've lived in that area and am familiar with it, which probably few of you can say. I've also already said that the photos don't offend me, not being a wilting flower like John.

Put it that someone was offended, and I described two groups which might qualify. There are others, I'm sure, since people (like John, for example) are rather easily offended these days.

walter neff said...

What no plumbers in Virginia Beach?

walter neff said...

The Patriots are going to have their ass in the crack when the Giants whup on them!!!!!

(If you're interested in what the rest of the world is doing today)

ricpic said...

Titus would gladly center the ball(s) for either Manning or Brady.

walter neff said...

I thought the crack epidemic was over.

Bissage said...

I’m sure normal, psychologically healthy adult persons look at that photo and see a sexy, playful romp -- youthful hijinks.

But not me.

I’m reminded of my dick skin stuck in a zipper and a skid mark that ruined a perfectly good pair of jeans.

The horror . . . the horror.

AlmaGarret said...

Where I live the local mall has two Abercrombie stores - one called Abercrombie, which is for kids like my older son, who is 12 going on 25. No butt cleavage, but extremely loud music, overpowering cologne and of course, gaggles of tweens perusing the tables. The racy ads are left to the A&F store, which has big white plantation shutters on the outside of the windows (facing the mall interior) to shield the younger kids and the faint of heart from all the cleavage, butt or otherwise. And I live in the San Francisco Bay Area!

This whole kerfuffle has less to do with homophobia than common decency. Is it too much to ask? Keep the cleavage inside the store and allow me to walk through the mall with my 8 year old without having to put blinders on him like some sort of racehorse.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not buying the homophobia angle, because, if you read the article you'll see, the police spokesman is also upset about a picture of a woman holding her hands over her breasts.

Ger said...

I've lived in VaBeach for a few decades and it is an odd sort of place. A big sprawling suburban kind of place (though they are creating a mini-downtown theme park called Town Center - ooohhh, we've got a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse now!!) that relies mostly on Department of Defense spending and rust belt tourists to keep it afloat.

It's a very solidly Republican kind of place that suckles hard on the teat of big government spending.

The home of Pat Robertson (who provides us with protection from hurricanes thru the power of his prayer). He started CBN many decades ago. He also created Regent University Law School.

One of its alumni was the headliner in today's paper - Troy Titus, the son of Regent Law dean who had his law license revoked for stealing millions from clients.

George said...

John and Alma have it right.

This company's target audience is teenagers, in other words, children, not adults.

Of course, A&F insists it's going after college-age shoppers, but tell that to my kids...

Parents should have an expectation that when they go shopping with their children (or their children go alone) they will not be confronted with imagery they consider offensive, particularly imagery of a conceivably pederastic nature.

In any event, reminiscent of some of John Singer Sargent's work....Should some of those images be displayed in the window of a store selling children's apparel?

Bob said...

Very good description, Ger. I'd forgotten about Pat R. and CBN being in Va Beach. That adds another very group very likely to be offended by A&F.

joated said...

You could probably go to any stretch of beach off Ocean Front Ave in August and see far more than was on display in the store.

Virginia Beach, what the heck are you thinking?

john said...

Ger: lol. Any relation to our titus?

Bob: On this holiest of Sundays we should eschew silly argument and focus on what is really important here: sufficient beer, chips, dip, a clean screen.

You are also right, I should not be poking fun at black culture.

Ralph said...

I'm pretty sure this A&F bought the name when the old company closed.

Notice the newspaper isn't publishing the breast shot. That should tell us something.

ricpic said...

Some people live up at nosebleed altitude, where a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse just doesn't make the grade.
Tut fucking tut.

Ralph said...

It's 3:30 pm on the east coast.
Titus must still be in hog heaven.

Blake said...

A&F made the complaint.

Middle Class Guy said...

A few years ago there was an uproar over A&F catalogs; some citing soft porn to child porn. You would think they would have learned from that and adjusted their advertising accordingly. If people, the people who are your potential customers. View your ads as objectionable, why would you keep running them. Speech issues aside, the point of ads is to sell products, not anger people.

MadisonMan said...

In addition to the pedophilic imagery,

Spare me the hyperbole.

AF primarily targets it's stuff to tweens and teens.

My teen wouldn't be caught dead in A&F. Abercrombie, maybe. But A&F, in her words, is for old people and the quality is lousy and the clothes too pricey.

I think blake's 3:00 PM comment is funny and maybe true

Ralph said...

MCG, they're not selling to parents.

Elliott A said...

As a Virginia Beach resident, I find this kind of embarassing. Whether or not you believe the sexy advertising is appropriate, this type of photo is a far cry from obsenity. It is artsy and in black and white. People whether they are 13 or 93 wear clothes to make themselves look good. Teens want to look good to teens of the opposite sex. The clothes themselves are not Victiria's Secret or Fredericks of Hollywood. Of course the Frederick's models are in the window in the mall and have been for years. Nobody has complained. The reaction is atypical of the normal viewpoint of the people who live here.

Abercrombie and Fitch wants to be the store the "in-crowd" shops at. They only hire attractive people to work in their stores. They recruit them from their customer base and have them folding and straightening clothes in plain sight of all the customers. The company calls them "models" although they do not give the job positions that title. My daughter was recruited summer before last and enjoyed the 40% discount they gave her on all purchases. She spent all the money she earned on their clothes and became a walking model outside of work. Very crafty marketing strategy. But they are not, like many other businesses selling sex, rather attractiveness. Same for cosmetics, hair products, etc. There was a very interesting story last year about a British journalist who was approached to work at the new A and F in London. He took the job with approval of his boss and wrote a fascinating article about the experience.

Interestingly, this area has trended much more Democratic over the last several years as the population has grown. The military population has been static during that time. Our Congresswoman won last time 52-48 against a nobody.

Lastly, it is sad that many people have these sterotyped views of the military. Having many friends and neighbors in or retired from the military, I can assure you that they represent the usual cross-section of views found in all Americans. They may be a little more gung-ho about projecting America's power with the military, but on social issues they are all over the place. Any civilians at the mall tend to be visitors, not "rural Virginians". There are many nice malls much closer to them to come all the way here.

Blake said...

I trust we've all seen the latest FCC nudity nonsense?

Synova said...

Come on people.

If there are no prudes then there would be no limits to push.

How boring would that be?

You don't get the naughty if it's not *naughty*.

It's a service. Appreciate it.

Nothing but the truth said...

Obscenity would be photos of a certain law professor's ass cleavage.

And leave it to A-house to come up with the term ass cleavage anyway.

It's not "cleavage," honey, it's a crack.

Bob said...

Nothing But The Truth: Obscenity would be photos of a certain law professor's ass cleavage.

Prof. Althouse looks pretty good for her age. What's the point in visiting her blog just to insult her? Shame on you.

George said...

It's not just prudes, soldiers, and Republicans who are upset.

Even Slate's notorious Emily "dragking" Yoffe has railed against the sluttification of children's clothes.

Chip Ahoy said...

A & F catalog depicts life as it actually is. If you don't believe me then let's take a few hours some afternoon observing foot traffic on the Boulder Mall. That's why it's the coffee-table publication of choice among gays. It can hold them in rapt attention for hours.

Last summer I had lunch on the Boulder mall. My friend kept indicating with surreptitious flicks of his eyes exactly whom among the crowd was the object of his lecherous ogling. This went on for an hour. On the way back to the car we passed a schoolyard full of preschoolers running around. I told my friend if he picks one out I'm turning him in.

If you wear one of those things that says AMBERCROMBIE in letters too big to ignore across the chest and that the models aren't wearing in the advertisement, then you can be one of those youngster studs. Har. My friend dresses so age-inappropriately it's comical.

Ann Althouse said...

"And leave it to A-house to come up with the term ass cleavage anyway. It's not "cleavage," honey, it's a crack."

I wish I had made it up, since it's a clever phrase, but aren't you the idiot? Aren't you the fool, imbecile, jackass, mooncalf, moron, nincompoop, ninny, nitwit, simple, simpleton, softhead, tomfool, dope, gander, goose, cretin, ding-dong, dip, goof, jerk, nerd, schmo, schmuck, turkey? You think there's only one word for one thing? Aren't you the ass?

Bob said...

Duluth trading has the solution to this problem. If it's a problem. Notice that they sell some of the shirts in tubs of "crack spackle."

*laughs*

Palladian said...

Althouse: "Nothing but the truth" is our old friend AJD. Pretty pathetic, no?

Ralph said...

A & F catalog depicts life as it actually is
If you're young, fit, and good looking (and well off). Have they every depicted chest or belly hair in the catalogue, or is it all waxed off?
Weren't they sued in Mass. for not hiring black kids?

Ralph said...

If you wear one of those things that says AMBERCROMBIE

That's a Chinese knockoff, nudge, nudge!

rhhardin said...

The shortest path from genius to jackass in the thesaurus is

genius ace champion partisan disciple learner greenhorn simpleton jackass

former law student said...

rhh: What kind of tent did you buy from Abercrombie and Fitch, back in the 60s?

Anyone who wants to know what the old Abercrombie and Fitch was like, can rent "Man's Favorite Sport" Rock Hudson plays a salesman there. He might also buy outdoor stuff there in "Lover Come Back" but I can't remember.

Synova said...

Several people have expressed objections very well.

On the one hand, we see as much or more all the time, so so what?

On the other hand note how many people in this comment list did not say, "those men are handsome."

Cedarford said...

rhhardin said...
The plastic sextant business must have fallen off.
I still have mine, from the A&F Nautical department, from the 60s.


My grandfather willed me his WWII brass radium-illuminated Sextant after teaching me how to use it in Puget Sound when he was alive, after he taught his sons. What a wonderful instrument! My sons and daughter also went through the ritual of going offshore, told there are two reefs nearby and to fix our location on a map with a sextant and sail between the hazards accordingly...

A&F may be out of the Sextant business, but they found some high class babes and studs to decorate their catalogue...

Sort of like, "I have a perfect ass, but I'm in Yale Law and don't have 20 tattoos and a clit ring and do porn loops for cocaine money.."

"Uhh - OK, I have two smaaalll discrete tattoos, but waited until I was a senior at Georgetown.."

James In Toronto said...

This is from William F. Buckley, written in 2001. Buckley was born in 1925, and his column was about the pervasiveness of pornography in daily life.
Buckley wrote:

" I stopped by at the local Abercrombie & Fitch for sailing wear. I waited, at the counter, for my package and looked down on the A&F Summer Catalogue. You could see the handsome young man on the cover, but the catalogue itself was bound in cellophane. My eyes turned to the card alongside. "To subscribe: Fill out this card and head to the nearest A&F store with a valid photo ID." With a valid photo ID? I thought that odd and asked the young man behind the counter, who was perhaps 19 years old, why IDs were required for purchasers of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue. He said, "Well, uh, it's kind of porny inside."

Abercrombie & Fitch has been from time immemorial a sportswear store renowned for its wholesome regard for the outdoor life. I smile still at the story recorded in The New Yorker generations ago. It was of a gardener in Long Island who yearned to buy a genuine A&F barometer and finally saved up the money to do so. He brought the beautiful thing back from Manhattan to his little house on the south shore, tapped it a few times impatiently, and stormed back to Manhattan to complain to the salesman that it was defective, its needle stuck at the mark "Hurricane." Abercrombie returned his money and the plaintiff returned to Islip to find that his house had been blown away.

Abercrombie's barometric needle had pointed resolutely at the impending hurricane of 1938, and presumably the company's current managers are confident that its current clothes line is also pointed surely, though the summer A&F catalogue seems to be suggesting that young men and women are better off wearing no clothes at all.

It is introduced by a 150-word essay under the title, "The Pleasure Principle." A definition ensues: "In psychoanalysis, the tendency or drive to achieve pleasure and avoid pain is the chief motivating force in behavior." And then an amplification: "Summer being our favorite time of the year and all, we've worked extra hard to bring you our best issue yet by letting the pleasure principle be our guide through the hottest months."

The lead page gives us a jaunty blonde clutching her hair, wet from the ocean she has just emerged from. If she is wearing anything, it would be below her pelvic joint. Above it, which is all the viewer can see, there are no clothes.

Next, a two-page spread of above-the-navel photos, six young men and one girl. One does spot a shoulder strap on the girl that may be a part of a bathing suit, subterranean and not reached by the camera. But lo, she does wear a watch, sheltering the wristnudity. The men wear nothing. A few pages on, a boy wears tennis shoes (unlaced) and a towel over his head. On his knee a camera rests. His shorts are given perspective by the young man's erection.

Whereas the young man a few pages on is entirely naked, leaning slightly over one knee. Across the page are worshipful photos of his windblown face in six differing exposures. . . . On to another young man entirely naked, one knee (the windward knee) held up. He is reposing on the deck of a sailboat, his back resting on an unfurled mainsail. The very next page gives us a girl wearing a T-shirt on which one can actually make out the name of our hosts: "Abercrombie" is discernible, and then something on the order of "Open Beauty Pageant." That shirt tapers off at the lady's waist. Below the waist there is nothing at all, except, of course, her naked body. A few pages later the young man is naked again on the boat, but wearing a drenched jacket which reaches only as far as his waist. A few pages later we have five beautiful blondes in full summer wear, draped about a Byronic young man evidently lost in the poetry of his reflections, a loose towel over his crotch.

There was never a pitch more nakedly designed than Abercrombie's to stimulate erotic appetites. The last part of the catalogue actually depicts clothes of one kind or another, but the reader, getting that far, is hotly indignant: What are all those shirts and shorts and pants doing, interrupting my view of the naked kids! I mean, I showed you my ID, didn't I?

ron st.amant said...

I grew up in Virginia Beach and I live now in Toronto. The former finds the image of a woman covering her nipples to be obscene, whereas in the latter it is legal for women to be topless in public...

The world is a strange, strange place.

Superdad said...

What happened to all the feminists? Look at this add - the leftside for sure. This is not an add depicting gay sex. This is an add depicting three young men having just finished having sex with one girl. That is why they are all pulling thier pants up as they walk away.

This is what they use to market their cloths to our sons and daughters. The reaction is not based on homophobia, it based parents not wanting clothing stores making the idea of three guys having sex with one girl is some how cool and hip. I am not thinking there is anything wrong with that.

Jennifer said...

And you think the poster is oversexed!? I see 4 kids running and having fun. Baggyish pants slip down as you run, and you have to pull them back up. When putting pants back on, who zips and buttons them and then pulls them up!?

See, this is perfect marketing. Some people look at that and see fun and youth. Some people look at that and see sex. The only problem for them is, some of y'all seeing sex are upset you're seeing sex. Seems more like inner turmoil than a problem a company should have to deal with...

paul a'barge said...

Isn't this the typical Abercrombie schtick though? I mean, they're raging homos and for years now they've been using their retail as a front to hump their gay agenda.

I'm glad someone nailed one of their operations.

Message to the zealots: go somewhere, get a room, close the door and pull down the shades. Pick your poison but leave the rest of us out of it.

Ger said...

UPDATE: Beach plans to drop charges against Abercrombie store


My guess is that all of the snickering in the national media has caused the mullahs (aka city officials) to play a mulligan.

I hadn't bothered to look at the photos in question until yesterday and was stunned that the police thought they met the definition of obscenity. Geeesh.