Dear American Apparel,
I hate you.
All my Love,
(sigh) That’s how I feel. It’s that simple and raw and ridiculous. Every time I see one of your billboards I am instantly infused with dread. Dread because I know that what will follow will be a twenty minute silent (unless I’m alone in my car, Goldie) tirade about why I so despise your billboards and what it means and could it be I need an intervention?
My first question is, why the soft-porn to sell simple cotton clothes? Is that the only thing that will get people in your store? Second, is it true employees take these suggestive pictures of fellow pubescent employees? Third, why does it bother me so much? Obviously you can’t answer that last question.
As I live in Echo Park, the township of irony, I wonder if the over-the-top sexual nature of your advertising is ironic, therefore I am supposed to cast a blind, but knowing eye? I’m not a prude (read my letter dedicated to my car) but there is something about the arched backs, the pointed toes and long, dank hair that drives me to distraction.
And who is the advertising for? Is it for Men who think your store will be overrun by pouty ballerinas in leotards and tights? Or is it a subliminal message to Women – “you will look particularly enticing in this strip-ed tight t-shirt as long as you don’t wear a bra and are constantly cold and don’t wear pants.”
Recently I saw an ad of yours on the back of a bus. It had a man recreated 4 times in a row with different coloured t-shirts on. Completely un-inspired. Not only that, he was schlubby and un-shaven, staring into the camera disinterestedly. No pout, no suggestive peeping of hidden bits, no languishing.
I suppose I should have rejoiced at something approaching normal but it pissed me off even more. Who was that ad designed for, Women or Men?
At least the Women in the ads are trying, they are attempting to do something; seduce, sell, be pretty (as misguided as it may be).
This dude looked like he was hung-over, annoyed that the line at Intelligentsia Coffee was soooo long and was hovering by the time clock waiting to clock-in when someone snapped his picture.
Why, why does this bother me so much? I am no stranger to processing, to analyzing emotional and mental states and things that trigger the shit out of me. I have a degree, albeit from a kumbaya school, where I studied psychology. I spent countless hours talking about and investigating my issues and God knows I delved into some weird shit there.
Example: Weekend workshop in Marin County
Subject: An exploration of symbolic movement
The class spent the weekend at a rustic youth hostel in the Marin headlands. It was a nippy Saturday morning on the beach. We were instructed to lie on our stomachs in the sand, all thirty-five of us, spread out like psychotic sunbathing seals. Apparently, the first intrinsic movement that all human beings share, as babies, is sucking. So we were to pretend we were doing just that, sucking.
The next movement was a sort of rocking movement. Still lying on our bellies in the sand we were to rock back and forth while continuing to suck with our mouths. Thirty-five adults humping the sand and practicing fellatio was what Marin residents encountered while walking their dogs on the beach, gingerly stepping over gyrating legs, wondering aloud if this was some form of performance art or homage to the Sea.
The last straw for me was the contact dance. Everyone was instructed to stay in physical contact while moving, ever so slowly, in and around and over one another like a giant slow motion mob on ecstasy. Predictably, there had to be that one guy who insisted on wearing a sarong. He made it his personal mission to make the most contact with his free-wheeling testicles flailing around in that great swath of material so that you could feel his man-shape roll across your back.
I ran away, found a sand dune and buried myself up to my neck where I slept for the following three hours. I think the trauma of the exercise knocked me out.
So you see, American Apparel, I am no stranger to figuring out what the Hell is going on. Worst case scenario, when faced with the intangible I can always formulate an escape plan but I cannot escape your billboards because they pollute the very landscape of my life!
I want you and I to get over it. I want you to stop being an asshole and to start advertising responsibly or at least get some therapy so your ads don’t feel so distorted. I want to relinquish my frustration with both American Apparel and dudes in sarongs.
Can we co-exist?
With all my love,
P.S. – All of Furnie’s stories are real and her letters sincere.