11 March 2014

T&A at American Apparel

What is wrong with this advert from American Apparel? First, the obvious titillation factor, inflected, of course, by the exoticism afforded by the model's brown skin.. That is something the company is notorious for. It is unacceptable when moralists like PETA do it. It is even less acceptable when done for profit. Second, the unsubtle Islam-bashing that inflects the company's rationalization of the image:

Third, the fact that Dov Charney CEO of American Apparel (whose name appears as signature at the lover left of the advert) could give a crap about sweat shop workers in Bangladesh. He is on his high horse here because, well, he thinks he can make money by mouthing off.  Like other "progressive" capitalists - like, say, the management of Starbucks, Charney is anti-union. So his concern for American workers stops just short of allowing them to actually decide whether they should rely on their own organizing or his beneficence regarding matters of pay, benefits, working conditions and so forth.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Jim,
I don't disagree about american apparel or other "progressive capitalists" ultimately being more concerned with profits than with workers' rights, but I do find myself conflicted when it comes to unions. I have always considered myself pro-union when describing my politics (leftist), but I work in an industry (service industry...i am a cook...sous chef at an independent restaurant) that is very divided. Most hotels and the restaurants within are unionized. Most independent restaurants are not. Whereas the former offers much better pay and hours and benefits etc, most young (less experienced) cooks look to independent restaurants as a more fertile training ground. Cooks operate in a self-perpetuating community that takes as a matter of fact (and pride) that they will work very long hours for lousy pay and put up with poor treatment. It is uncommon for anyone below sous-chef (salaried position) to have health insurance. I could go on, but the point is that although cooks/chefs in independent restaurants would obviously love better pay/treatment, unions have never seemed a good fit. Most cooks who work in independent restaurants do it because they like it. And if they are lucky enough to succeed, they go on to open their own non-union shops. I'm not sure this is a bad thing, but I also end up feeling pretty politically unrepresented with unions not speaking for me, and no clear other voice speaking for labor. Sorry if this comes across as scattered, but I would be curious to hear your thoughts on who does or should speak for non-union workers who don't wish to become unionized.
Best regards,

18 March, 2014 23:53  

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