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Archive for November, 2015

A ghost in the machine.

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Lucerne Switzerland B

Unexpected beauty and tranquility fit for a swan.

Shot by Jon Keeling.

“So Fierce”

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015


A fashion icon and doll darling, Barbie has rocked the toy industry since 1956. Over the years, Barbie has adorned nearly every trend imaginable, from rocker girl chic to timeless couture. She is admired and adored worldwide by both women… and men.

Earlier this month Mattel teamed up with Italian fashion house, Moschino, to release a “totally hot, totally cool, totally Moschino” Barbie doll. The limited-edition doll features Barbie styled in high-end Moschino clothing and jewelry. The doll sold out in less than a day! However, it wasn’t just Barbie turning heads – but rather – the totally adorable, totally fabulous and totally FIERCE little boy featured in the Moschino Barbie commercial.

Toy brands – among other industries – have long been criticized for creating gender stereotypes and encouraging gender roles through gender specific advertisements and commercials. Typically little girls are featured in doll ads while little boys are left to the monster trucks and racecars. But on October 30, Moschino Barbie kicked down the gender barriers by featuring a way cool boy playing with Barbie alongside his gal pals.

“Moschino Barbie is so fierce,” exclaims the boy.

Audiences gushed over the fiery little boy and applauded Mattel and Barbie for eliminating the gender divide. “People are losing their minds because for the first time in 56 years, the face of the brand is a little boy,” wrote Buzzfeed. However, in truth, Mattel had little to do with the celebrated commercial. The company clarified that this was actually a “fauxmercial”.

The “fauxmercial” was directed and inspired by Moschino Creative Director, Jeremy Scott. “This video parodies iconic Barbie commercials from the 1980’s starring a young Jeremy Scott look alike. The video celebrates how boys and girls alike play with Barbie – it’s all about self-expression, fashion, imagination and storytelling,” Mattel wrote in a statement to BBC News.

Whether Mattel is responsible for the provocative commercial or not, it doesn’t matter. What’s important is that the public can evaluate and examine gender stereotypes and roles. And more importantly become a more accepting and non-judgmental society.


Ann Keeling says:

As a girl I played with Barbie dolls and toy cars right alongside each other. It showed that I had a feminine and masculine side. It’s no different with boys who play with cars and with dolls. Society should chill out and just let everyone be who they are.

The artistry of religion.

Friday, November 20th, 2015

St. Xavier ChurchSome of the most phenomenal examples of art and architecture are found in the world’s churches. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the beauty.

Shot by Christy Akemon.

A Not-So-Jolly Ad

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

The holidays are swiftly approaching and with each joyous occasion comes the onset of events and parties. Finding the perfect outfit is pivotal for holiday festivities and with a slew of holiday catalogs already at your doorstep, narrowing down wardrobe options has been made simple. Last week, American department store, Bloomingdale’s, distributed their 2015 holiday catalog. The catalog featured chic and fashionable blouses, dresses and suits with an additional holiday tip, “Spike Your Best Friend’s Eggnog When They’re Not Looking.” Wait… what?

A seemingly obvious poor choice of words, the less than appropriate ad features a man oddly looking at a woman while she engages with someone in the opposite direction. Between the slyly dressed duo lingers the eerie phrase above.

What’s even more astounding, and even troubling, is that the ad was approved by several individuals before going to print. However, Bloomingdale’s isn’t the only brand to have absentmindedly eluded to or made light of date rape in the past year. Last April, Bud Light came under attack for its “Up for Whatever” campaign, which featured the tagline “The perfect beer for removing the word ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” Bud Light immediately apologized.

“I doubt the person who created this [the Bloomingdale’s ad] was consciously thinking about sexual assault. Male or female, whoever it was who came up with this – and the many people who okayed it – just don’t get it. Date rape is still a huge problem – and yes, there’s more attention paid to it than before, but not enough attention,” said Jean Kilbourne, filmmaker of the award-winner documentary series “Killing Us Softly: America’s Image of Women”.

In fact, rape is a growing epidemic in America. Data from the Justice Department suggests drug-facilitated rape is one of the most commonly reported sexual assault crimes and according to the National Institute of Health, at least half of sexual assaults involve the consumption of alcohol by the perpetrator, the victim or both.

Bloomingdale’s responded to the backlash via this statement, “In reflection of recent feedback, the copy we used in our recent catalog was inappropriate and in poor taste. Bloomingdale’s sincerely apologizes for this error in judgment.” Unfortunately for the department store, unlike digital or TV ads, the published print catalog can’t be pulled or taken back…


Ann Keeling says:

Sadly this sort of thing is more common than you think. Teams of people work on catalog projects like this for months, revising it a million times and layouts being routed internally over days and weeks. With a process like this and the same eyes reviewing layouts over and over, it’s easy to see how details could potentially be overlooked. Bloomingdale’s certainly had holiday humor in mind when they did the creative, not suggesting date rape in their holiday catalog.

Money Over Morals

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Money talks… and in the presidential race, it speaks volumes. With less than a year away from the big election, and as time draws near, more and more media outlets are eager to consume a piece of the campaign pie. However, as journalists, publications and networks harness the popularity of presidential candidates they dangerously tread on questions of media ethics.

In June, Donald Trump – who has become the definition of controversy – turned heads with his outlandish remarks against Mexico. Post – tremendously ignorant – statements, affiliates quickly ditched Donald, including long time partner NBC.

Fast-forward to November and Mr. Trump hosted CNBC’s Saturday Night Live – one of NBC’s cable affiliates. Needless to say, viewers were less than thrilled. The public responded with a petition signed by more than half a million people. But despite the public outcry, the show aired as scheduled.

So why would a network who publicly rebuked Mr. Trump’s statements and disassociated themselves with him ask Donald to host an affiliated TV show? Easy… money.

Hate him or love him, Donald Trump is a provocative persona demanding attention and generating revenue. Controversial celebrities, like Donald, breed big audiences and high ratings for networks. In turn, networks harness high ratings to charge hundreds of thousands of dollars for marginal ad space.

Thus, with a shoulder shrug at hypocrisy, NBC chose their pockets over the public.

“It’s really dangerous journalistically and ethically. I worry, as long as there’s money in a tough economic environment for journalists, the news organizations will take money and not see the danger,” said former CNN anchor, Aaron Brown.

Increased competition has deterred the moral compass for the sake of probability and campaigns recognize this. Leveraging their financial value, some presidential campaigns are even attempting to utilize their worth to change debate formats to suit their terms. This is a very dangerous and scary reality. It’s imperative for journalists, publications and networks to take a step back and examine the possible ramifications choosing money over morality can have. But for now, at least we can take solace in that fact that all of Donald’s Saturday Night Live “jokes” fell flat.


Ann Keeling says:

Money makes the world go ‘round. And that’s certainly the case in politics and media. More eyeballs sell more ads and at a premium. So someone like Trump is coveted by commercial media who are, at the end of the day, in the ad business.