Hailee Steinfeld in the banned Fall 2011 Miu Miu campaign, ostensibly upset at being left alone at a railway track. Photographed by Bruce Weber.
had a friend who worked briefly in the business of approving television commercials. By her account, it sounded like a miserable position with little in what they call 'job satisfaction'. There is a set of clear guideline for her to follow in regards to the mundane stuff i.e. what you can and cannot say on air, the number of beer bottles should not exceed the number of actors appearing on screen, etc. But the job gets tricky when it comes to issue where it is not obviously black and white. For example, gratuitous violence is frowned upon, but violence in a comedic setting may be permissible. So is a gun shot in a dream sequence from a stoner comedy permissible? What is violence to one person could be comedy to another; different people will have different reading of the same material due to different background or different cultural references. No two people will made the same judgement regarding the same ad. On top of that, to make a difficult job even more stressful, the ad agencies will never be happy with whatever changes you want them to make no matter how reasonable they are; and her bosses would immediately jump on her if she missed something or made a bad call. It's a job where you please no one at the end of the day.
Having heard about my friend's experience, I'd like to imagine whoever was at the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) making the decision to ban Hailee Steinfeld's Miu Miu ad was probably having a bad day at work or made some bad calls earlier and decided to be overzealous this time. The ban was clearly boneheaded. If a mere image of unattended children playing around railroad tracks can be deemed irresponsible and dangerous, what about images of unattended children at swimming pools
? And despite the fact that people read the same images differently, I think if we were to ask 100 people to list what message they perceived in this particular ad, child endangerment would unlikely be a common reading. For me personally, I see a rustic setting, a beautifully dressed girl seemingly upset about some untold heartbreak. I find it all quite lovely, even poetic. However I agree with those who made that point that if there is anything objectionable about this campaign it would probably be having a 14-year-old kid modelling a £1,000 dress
. But the government is not in the business of regulating the sale of luxury goods during peacetime, so there's not much to do about that and there shouldn't be.
Despite my friend's misadventure - she's now in a new job - and the overreaction to the Miu Miu campaign, I'm not entirely opposed to the work of ASA which already has a notorious reputation for being tough
. I happened to agree with one of their recent decisions to ban Dakota Fanning's Oh, Lola! ad for Marc Jacobs
Similar to the Miu Miu campaign, this is another ad from a fashion company featuring a young teenage actress. But if we are to peel back at the layer of messages behind this particular ad: the sheerness of her dress, the nude colour, the short hemline and more importantly the position of the flower bottle, the associated meaning of the word 'flower', the name 'Lola' and its diminutive "Lolita" in the English language (I know Nabokov's character is actually called Dolores but I digress.) Adding up all this little bits of signs, can we not agree that sex and specifically sexuality pertaining to an underage girl would not be an uncommon reading among the general population?
You may disagree with me, I think this one is crossing into jailbait territory
Labels: Business, Hailee Steinfeld, Miu Miu, Prada