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Gag reflex

I love this. Family groups (I love those guys!) are decrying a Lee jeans print ad campaign, complaining they portray prostitution, child pornography and oral sex.

Said family groups are calling for a ban —and they’ll probably get it (yes, Australia is a nanny state)— but even so, last I checked there were a few standards you needed to hold yourself to before calling for a ban on something. They’re nothing formal, mind. Just a few commonsense checkboxes one should consider before lodging a formal complaint of any kind and alerting the media. The list goes a little like this:

  1. Ensure you’re not a moron.
  2. Ensure the basis for your complaint is sound by the judgment of a reasonable person. If you’re unsure, check with someone not affiliated with your cause.
  3. Ensure the wording of your complaint isn’t easily refuted. If you’re unsure, have someone literate examine your complaint.

Now, maybe I’m not the best person to ask whether the childhood and family groups referred to in this news article actually consulted the checklist. Only they know for certain. But keep the line “prostitution, child pornography and oral sex are suggestively portrayed” in mind when you consider the following photographs:

Girl and guy pose on a bed. Fully clothed, though the girl is exposing a garter belt.Same girl (she’s the same in all the photos, incidentally) reclines, fully clothed (though with a very low cut top), sucking a lollipop.Girl sucks on a popsicle. She’s topless, though the suspenders on her shorts conceal her nipples.Girl and guy recline on a couch. He has his thumb in her mouth, while his other hand inches inside her beltline.The same lollipop-and-suspenders routine described earlier.Topless girl throws a leg over topless guy photographer in a sea of satin sheets.Guy has a thumb inside his own beltline, pulling down to reveal the higher reaches of his pubic hair (or the lower reaches of his belly hair, you decide).Same girl “presents” herself, fully clothed.

I’m no sexologist, but I’ve been around the block. Correct me if I’m wrong on these points:

  1. Prostitution tends to involve the exchange of money for sexual favors. These photos depict nothing of the sort.
  2. Child pornography tends to involve children. There are no children in these photos.
  3. Having a model suck a lollipop may be a sly reference to oral sex, but 90% of people will miss it unless she’s deep-throating an 18" kielbasa.

The funny thing is there’s no mention of regular old pornography in the article (child pornography is an entirely different beast). The ad campaign effectively replicates a trashy skin-mag photo shoot (yes, that’s kinda the point) and yet the bulk of the complaint centers on things that aren’t in the ads at all.

Some of the more hysterical comments left under the article make me wonder what these people have been drinking to forget their own childhoods.

Sex does sell. It’s been selling for longer than you’ve been alive. But you became immune to the sex you saw on TV and in magazines when you were growing up, so the marketers had to dial it up a notch to make sex sell for you. Now they’re doing the same for your kids, only you weren’t ready for the dial to go up again.

Get used to that feeling, you’re going to be getting it a lot during the next fifty years. Music is too loud. Movies are too violent. TV is too boorish. Kids are too disrespectful. Sound familiar? Yes, you’re turning into an old person. Congratulations.