Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Revealing the torso - how much is too much?

So, I read the news that the advertising body, ASAS (Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore), has managed to get the government body, Media Development Authority (MDA), to ban retail brand, Abercrombie & Fitch's huge-ass (I mean torso) billboard advertisement at KnightsBridge in Orchard Road.

The Abercrombie & Fitch ad fronting soon-to-be-opened store at Knightsbridge.
I quickly digged out this photo which I snapped a few weeks ago when I was passing by. I thought it was an interesting ad (shouting out at you) and not surprising coming from the retail giants in Orchard Road. I was in a rush when I snapped this, and coincidentally, from my angle, I happened to capture this couple in front of the shirtless model and the lady was right smacked at the... erm... vital part of the body. I did not do it on purpose. :P

ASAS brought up the standard code of conduct for advertising which says, "advertisements should not contain anything that is offensive to the standards of decency prevailing among those who are likely to be exposed to them".

I know Singapore is an Asian country. We are prudent, conservative, regulated, clean and I know what my Grandma and parents would say if they see this ad, "Aiyoh!!!". Definitely it raised eye brows. But still, I wonder what the hooha is about. There are many other more urgent and important issues on a macro level to handle. If one is worried that this is a bad influence for kids and that it encourages sexual activity, one has to be very ignorant what the kids are exposed to online these days, which is a zillion times worse. Even worse still, besides complaining that the model is almost naked, some found it offensive that it was headless as well, and cited this as the "worship of the devil".

If you think the headless naked male torso model in Orchard Road is questionable, there are some even more controversial ads from the retail big boys in the past.... (and of course they never made it to our shores).

Rocker Dave Navarro stripped to protest against wearing fur. He tells PETA in an interview that he used to wear fur in some of his over the top costumes, but he is now a reformed anti-fur believer.

In another PETA ad, gold medal winning USA swimmer Amanda Beard has made a big splash and bared all. The Olympian follows in the naked footsteps of Pamela Anderson and Eva Mendes, standing up and stripping down to protest the fur industry.
This shock advertising from Gucci is already 11-years old. Male torso was supposed to shine from London billboards, but the Mayor turned it down, regarding the picture as revolting.

Versace's ad of naked bodies. This poster was banned only in Arab Emirates and Oman.

This Emanuel Ungaro advertising appeared in 2002. Of all glossy magazines in the world, it was accepted for publishing only in American Vogue.
In 1995, the British Advertising Standards Authority found this Jean Paul Gaultierposter as inappropriate. The reason was that the poster could insult the idea of interracial marriages.

American feminists were outrageous at this Diesel advertisement. They claimed that the posters promoted sexism and went on TV to call for abandoning the brand’s products.

The British Advertising Standards Authority considered this Gucci poster to be violating to female dignity.
This 2004 advertisement for Calvin Klein Jeans is extremely racy and controversial, which suggest more than the purchase of designer jeans.

Antonio Federici Gelato busted out with a print ad campaign where nuns and priests get a little more intimate than the Holy Spirit is comfortable with. According to UK's Advertising Standards Authority, "linking sex or sexualised images with religion may cause particular offence" and "portraying nuns in a sexual manner is inappropriate." And they were just trying to sell ice cream.

There was not even torso revealed here. Yet United Colors of Benetton got into trouble with this ad. There was some gnashing and grinding of teeth when they parked this ad on a billboard outside the Vatican a few years ago.

In this 2007 Emporio Armani underwear ad, David Beckham revealed a hairless torso which was plastered on billboards in cities such as London, New York, Paris and Rome... Why was there not that much of a hooha then?

So how much is too much, where naked torso is concerned? You take your stand. It seems a little ironical that while the audience seem ok with pictures depicting violence, disasters, abuse etc... but when it comes to nudity they race to criticise, judge and censor. All these racy advertising campaigns are yet more proof that fashion houses are pushing boundaries to extremes in order to gain publicity for their products. To them, perhaps, no news is bad publicity.

May all parties..... advertisers, consumers, and governing bodies (no pun intended) exercise the right motivation when it comes to our birthday suit.

1 comment:

  1. I am so against violence and try not to watch any tv or movie with violence in it. ok I'm chicken and tend to get nightmares easily.

    Agree with you..... to me, when it comes to kids, too much violence is the thing we should be worried about.


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