Gay Straight Ad Watch: Photo-Chopped

Gay Guy,

Holidays over. Back to work. Might be time for a new calendar, right? Not sure about your preference: photos from Edith Wharton's Mount Estate vs. Tropical Orchids by Season vs. Firemen of the Bronx, hmmmm.

Some controversy this year around the Campari calendar. Each year it features a fabulous babe enjoying the product line and the company of tanned, hairless, italian beefcake. Previous years have featured Eva Mendes and Salma Hayek.

The photo editors took extra liberties this time by retouching pounds off of this year's star, Jessica Alba. (See the before and after above. Obviously not the same shot, but the slimming work is obvious... and overdone.)

Neither you or I are naive enough to belive this doesn't happen all the time. Remember the dust-ups over Beyonce's skin tone (lightened) and tummy (flattened), Kate Winslet's legs (lengthened), and Kate Hudson's and Keira Knightley's bikinis (filled)? Not to forget Hugh Grant's teeth (complete overhaul). Yes, photo retouching is a slippery slope, but this qualifies as digital surgery.

The backlash is always about the damage to the female psyche, re: body image, unattainable standards of perfection, etc. If Jessica Alba needs this much help, what hope is there for Jane Sixpack?

Not trying to minimize the problem, but let's be clear. Straight guys did not cause and do not perpetuate this particular problem. We could care less about the glossy, high fashion, euro-styled aesthetic on display here (which demographic would that be?). And there certainly is no underground campaign by us to make Alba any hotter. I guarantee that most straight guys think she looks fine the way she is.
[No. I am not sidestepping the complicating issue that Alba had a baby last year. If the folks at Campari are trying to completely erase the impact of that, then poo-poo on them and Alba shouldn't have taken the job this year. She looks fine.]

In the case of the Campari calendar, the men are certainly as objectified as the model. Talk about props! (Do most straight guys even buy Campari? Or have a good working definition of "objectified?")

Blame straight guys for the Swedish Bikini Team and the Playboy aesthetic, sure. Maybe women feel pressure to conform to the images of fashion industry waifs AND the bombshells of pop culture. But you can't pin ALL of this angst on us.

Besides, they shouldn't worry so much. One of the best qualities about straight guys is that we are so easy to please. And that's not the same thing as having low standards.

You tell me, Gay Guy. Any of your team's fingerprints on this? Or are women torturing themselves?

--Straight Guy

Straight Guy,

I believe you that straight men don't much care for or about the high-gloss, high-fashion, overdone styling in this calendar. (Come clean, was this a Christmas present?) I find it impossible to imagine this calendar on the fridge of any straight man I know. The out of control Vouge magazine look isn't for y'all. And, you don't like to share your gals, even if it is some Euro-trash wanna be Chippendales dancer hairless abs-blasted boy.

Are my peeps behind this? Behind the camera, probably. Behind the plot to create a male erotic fantasy that actually screams gay, gay, gay and thus must cause some internal distress along with the visual candy? Sounds more like the plot of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night to me. I am not sure that any of my peeps have that much time on their hands. Besides, speaking for the team, if I had the coin to get some mostly nekkid, hairless piece of Italian sausage into a tropical pool on a sunny day, I wouldn't kill the buzz with Jessica Alba hanging around looking for attention. I'm sure she's a very nice lady, but timing IS everything.

So, this begs the question of exactly who is this calendar for? If it's designed to be the answer to a straight man's sexual fantasy and it's not really appealing to straight men, nor is it appealing to gay men, well, that leaves us with the fertile female mind. Is this appealing to lesbians? That is truly outside my area of expertise. Also, outside the range of my might imagination.

Personally, I think calendars like that, and I speak from some expertise now, whether they are designed to titillate straight or gays guys end up being rather depressing. Hot, then depressing. I indulge myself with a sexy man calendar pretty much every year, this year included. (Writing in my mom's birthday and my parent's anniversary in a box below the, well, box is weird. The new calendar features tasteful black and white images, and lured me in with "Fitness Tips" for each month. January's is "don't eat so much." I wonder if my objectified piece of man muscle has be photo-surgically slimmed.

Last but not least: I did once have a Campari and soda. Campari is neither gay nor straight. Nor does it taste good.

--Gay Guy


Straight in Upstate said...

Don't leave us hanging, what is Campari? I seem to recall Campari ads from the 1970s - is it akin to malt duck and other nasty crap you drink when you're 15?

I agree with GG - who's getting turned on by this? And even if so, are those folks buying Campari by the case load? Bring back Alberto Vargas illustrations...I've probably revealed too much about myself now.

Kathryn said...

Well. I'll chime in with the hetero-female vote, for whatever it's worth. I've gotten so used to seeing Photoshopped images that I usually ASSUME that I cannot trust what I see. So, I figure with enough computer work (and enough green) anyone can look perfect. I don't for one second confuse perfect with real, though. The victims here are the teen ready to believe their eyes. As for who's buying this calendar? Not me. I've got that one with the cartoon old-lady with attitude. (I'm not sure what that says about me...)

Gay Guy said...

Who's Jessica Alba?

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