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Woody Allen vs. American Apparel

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Woody Allen vs. American Apparel

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I admit that I occasionally stop into American Apparel for basics like a plain black t-shirt. Even though it costs more than somewhere like Old Navy or Forever 21, I like AA’s no-sweatshop-labor policies (everything’s made in America). But the thing that’s always skeeved me out are their pervy ads. They look like amateur porn, Lonely Girl 15 webcam stuff, like some sleazy old man would take in his basement—or like that Fiona Apple video for “Criminal.”

As a rabid Woody Allen fan, I was kind of surprised when someone told me he was on American Apparel billboards—I didn’t know why they’d pick him of all people, since he doesn’t look much (okay, that much) like a coked-up prepubescent girl. It seemed doubly weird because Allen doesn’t do any US product endorsements. So when I searched for the photos—fearing the worst, of Allen stripped down except for tall athletic socks and gold lame running shorts—I was even more surprised to see a screenshot of him dressed as a rabbi from Annie Hall, with Yiddish writing scrawled across the top. Um, OK. I’m sure those LA hipsters thought that was oh so edgy.

Other than to get people talking, I have no idea why American Apparel would pick Allen as their poster child—he’s not sexy, he dresses in decidedly Gap-like khaki clothes, he’s way older than their demographic, and he’s, in my opinion, considerably pervy—oh right, that’s their thing. But if they were looking to evolve their perv-branding, why not choose a different shot from Annie Hall, like where he’s lunging at his ex-wife to unhook her bra or casually hooking up with that waify chick from The Shining. Is this something about “unsexy is the new sexy”, or something that I just don’t get?

The ad is also not gonna be cheap; Allen’s suing AA for $10 million in damages, saying they never contacted him to pay him, get his approval—or even to let the poor guy know they were using his image. Yeah, it’s a big publicity stunt that’ll get people talking about those American Apparel schmucks, but I don’t get the why of it.

What do you think about American Apparel’s Woody Allen ads? Sexy? What am I not getting?
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