by Shaker TheSeaHag
I was flipping through the new issue of Lucky the other day and got hit with a (possibly NSFW) Diesel ad that can be viewed here.
For those who can't or don't wish to view the image, it depicts a (white, very thin) woman in a bikini or bra and underpants, who seems to be on photo safari—just, you know, without the rest of her clothes. She's standing in a grassy, sunlit area, camera slung around her neck, but is using one hand to hold her underpants/bikini bottom away from her body while the other points her camera down to take a photograph. So engrossed is she in this that she doesn't notice the big ol' lion standing perhaps a dozen feet behind her. The slogan, in big, bright yellow letters, reads, "SMART MAY HAVE THE BRAINS, BUT STUPID HAS THE BALLS."
Apparently, this is part of Diesel's new "Stupid" campaign—yes, really—for which the most commonly used slogan among the images (many of which can be viewed at the above link) appears to be, as in the ad linked above, "Smart may have the brains, but stupid has the balls." The rest of the images for this campaign can be found here (click "View the Campaign"), but I direct you there with both a NSFW warning and a TRIGGER WARNING because a few of the images are disturbing in various ways.
One portrays a (headless) man and woman underwater, pulling one another's bathing suits off, yet at the same time they seem to be pulling away from one another. I assume it's merely meant to telegraph sexual urgency, but I found it unsettling.
Another, I found deeply disturbing. At first, I thought it was just because it's a disturbing image on its face—a (clothed) woman with a traffic cone that is capped with a SLOW sign covering her head and face standing in a street at night, a car approaching from behind her, with her hands held out a bit from her sides—and then I realized why it was ringing alarm bells. It reminds me of one of the images from Abu Ghraib, that of a man in a hood, with electrical wires attached to his outstretched arms. I'm sure not everyone would make that association, but I did, and it really hit me in the gut when the resemblance clicked. Even without that layer, though, the image is upsetting. What's happening to this woman? Is she about to be hit by that car? Did someone put that cone on her or did she do it herself? Is she going to be okay?
There's also a bizarrely offensive image of a man who appears to be white, dressed only in sneakers, underwear, and a feathered headdress, and holding a bow and arrow. He's standing in front of a flying saucer that's pouring out smoke to signify that it has crash landed. I don't even know what the hell that's supposed to be—all the caption tells me is that "We're with stupid."—and I don't really care. I was just floored when I saw this, amazed that anyone could be so unaware as to pull out the old "savage Indian chief" stereotype. Making this already deeply problematic image even more offensive is that, in the entire campaign, there does not appear to be a single POC featured. Not one.
As a collection, the images and their accompanying text range from merely ridiculous to disturbingly misogynistic. The "...but stupid has the balls" text is used exclusively with images of women, of course. And I find it particularly upsetting that another slogan used repeatedly for this campaign--"Smart says no, stupid says yes."—is also used exclusively with images of women. As well, the image in the first link above, which prompted me to go looking for the rest, struck me as transmisogynistic, as it probably would anyone who was unfamiliar with the rest of the campaign when first seeing it (and even after seeing the rest, but especially without that minimal context).
Looking at all the images, I was by turns alarmed, disturbed, disgusted, and derisive. It seems like some ad executive decided to throw together the worst bits of trash from our culture—sexism, misogyny, transmisogyny, crude sexual humor, exploitative images, glorification of mediocrity, the total absence of POC and the inclusion of a cultural stereotype)—into a sort of crap casserole in the hope that it would appeal to whichever demographic it is they're targeting.
Any one of these problematic images and captions would have bothered me, and would certainly have deterred me from buying Diesel products. Taken all together, they are both disturbing and perplexing. How is this campaign supposed to attract me to this brand? The message I took away is that it isn't. Diesel doesn't want my dollars, or need them. They have another market in mind.
Apparently, "proudly stupid" is now a demographic.
[Assvertising: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, Twenty-Nine, Thirty, Thirty-One, Thirty-Two, Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four, Thirty-Five, Thirty-Six, Thirty-Seven, Thirty-Eight, Thirty-Nine, Forty, Forty-One, Forty-Two, Forty-Three, Forty-Four, Forty-Five, Forty-Six, Forty-Seven, Forty-Eight, Forty-Nine, Fifty, Fifty-One, Fifty-Two, Fifty-Three, Fifty-Four, Fifty-Five, Fifty-Six, Fifty-Seven, Fifty-Eight, Fifty-Nine, Sixty, Sixty-One, Sixty-Two, Sixty-Three, Sixty-Four, Sixty-Five, Sixty-Six, Sixty-Seven, Sixty-Eight, Sixty-Nine, Seventy, Seventy-One, Seventy-Two, Seventy-Three, Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five, Seventy-Six, Seventy-Seven, Seventy-Eight, Seventy-Nine, Eighty, Eighty-One, Eighty-Two, Eighty-Three, Eighty-Four, Eighty-Five, Eighty-Six, Eighty-Seven, Eighty-Eight, Eighty-Nine, Ninety, Ninety-One, Ninety-Two, Ninety-Three, Ninety-Four, Ninety-Five, Ninety-Six, Ninety-Seven, Ninety-Eight.]