Friday, 5 February 2010

Be my Valentine

The world of fashion has always been a safe-haven for people of a lavender pursuasion. Designers, models, stylists and personal assistants have all been drawn to the industry, like moths to a neon sign saying 'flamers'.

So it stands to reason that fashion houses would display a more progressive and inclusive attitude towards the love that dare not wear unbranded apparel. Take Armani for example - its underwear ads are a few swishy steps away from soft porn, and Armani suits are designed with roomy sleeves to allow for more elaborate finger-snap manoeuvres.

I guess it was only a matter of time before Armani started appropriating more explicitly gay images in its marketing - which is why I'm not exactly surprised to see its latest in-store poster campaign depicting all kinds of couples in romantic clinches as part of its Valentine promotions.

Straight, gay and lesbian couples are all featured in a variety of PG-rated poses - no-one's having sex, in fact they're not even kissing. To be honest, the models mostly look as though they're checking their partners for worrying new melanomas.

But for some people, two shirtless men gazing intently at one another is enough to symbolise the downfall of modern society. A group called One Million Moms (part of the creepily conservative American Family Association) is leading a protest about the Armani Exchange's poster campaign, claiming "Malls, where teens hang out, have retailers whose window displays poison our children with 10-foot posters that are nothing but soft p*rn. In particular, Armani Exchange has recently displayed Valentine's posters with partially dressed 'couples' holding one another. These couples consist of two men, a man and woman, and two women. The women are scantily dressed while it is questionable if the men have any clothes on at all. Two of these models are used a couple of times to represent bis*xuals. If it could get any worse the text written is 'SHARE THE LOVE.'"

It's bad enough that these people have been campaigning to reclaim the word 'marriage' to prevent same-sex unions, but now they're using apostrophes to suggest that gay people shouldn't even be allowed to form couples.

Thanks to this grass roots activism, other vocal oppression groups have weighed in on the debate, with Phillip Cosby of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families adding "It is not just commercialism and unfortunately it is predatory in its nature." I'm not sure how a poster depicting a loving couple can be considered predatory, unless one of them had a light-refracting cloaking device and terrifying mandibles, but there you go.

According to the One Million Moms website, the organisation's goal is to combat "the filth many segments of our society are throwing at our children." But when it comes to indiscriminately hurling shit around, I think these misguided campaigners ought to look a little closer to home.

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