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So who signed off the Tots ‘n’ Bondage Bears ad, Balenciaga?

Remember what a fun day it was when the Rainbow Dildo Butt Monkey came to Redbridge children’s library?

I posted about it here, and asked, “How did this happen? Why did no one question it?” The answer was the title of that post: it was a bad career move to be the first one to object. Objecting would have marked you out as a prude, a bigot, a hater.

The Daily Mail‘s headline writer probably thought his next chance to write a headline like “Parents’ disgust as actor in rainbow coloured monkey costume with fake penis and nipples appears at library event encouraging children to read” would not soon come again.

He need not have worried. Today’s Mail gave him another opportunity to practise his art: “Balenciaga apologizes for bondage-themed campaign featuring a child and excerpt from SCOTUS ruling on child pornography – fashion house vows to sue photographer behind it”

  • Fashion brand Balenciaga is apologizing for a photoshoot with a child holding a teddy bear dressed in a BDSM outfit that outraged many
  • Perhaps even more bizarrely one of the photos hides an excerpt from the US Supreme Court opinion in United States v. Williams, which upheld part of a federal child pornography law
  • Balenciaga appear to be laying the blame at the photographer, Gabriele Galimberti
  • They released a statement apologizing for the shoot and seemingly suggesting they would take legal action against Galimberti and anyone else involved
  • ‘We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused,’ they wrote
  • They continued: ‘We take this matter very seriously and are taking legal action against the parties responsible for creating the set’
  • One thing that comes with the territory of being a libertarian is a lifetime of explaining that one can very much not wish to say “Ban this sick filth”, while still thinking the thing concerned is sick filth. Whether for racism or “edgy” adverts that promote sexualised images of children, I think the moral obligation on libertarians to condemn morally bad speech is greater, not lesser, because we do not seek to silence the speaker.

    From what I have seen of the adverts they managed to stay this side of the line of actually violating the child actors themselves, but “the makers of this advertisement would probably escape jail time” is not much of a recommendation. Balenciaga as a company ought to be ashamed. And enough with the weasel words about it all being the fault of the photographer. Someone at the company signed this off. Why didn’t he or she take one look at the juxtaposition of a sad-eyed child and BDSM imagery and have Gabriele Galimberti escorted off the premises by security? The answer is the same as for the Redbridge Rainbow Dildo Butt Monkey. It was a bad career move to be the first to object.

    25 comments to So who signed off the Tots ‘n’ Bondage Bears ad, Balenciaga?

    • Agammamon

      They can’t really blame it on the photog anyway – its not like the photographer doesn’t have a portfolio *specializing in this sort of thing*.

      They chose the photog based on their prior work. And their prior work is creepy pictures of children.

    • bobby b

      The Daily Mail factual article about this flap contains the following:

      “Kim flaunted her toned legs as she emerged from the car wearing black flip flops. She also appeared to be wearing black sunglasses from Balenciaga.

      Her hair dangled down her chest in loose, wispy waves and her natural beauty was enhanced with a slick of lip gloss touching up her look.”

      These are the people informing us of some “creepy” ad by someone else?

      Sex sells. Transgressive sex sells even better. I saw several ads on television yesterday that struck me as more creepy than these Balenciaga ads.

    • WTPuck

      Having worked in advertising at one point, I can tell you the ad agency comes up with several concepts. The client chooses the one to go with, or tells the agency to go back to the drawing board. The photographer is a subcontractor. The client bears all the responsibility.

    • Stephen J.

      I will admit to something that may make me look stupid, but as I am not that dumb as a general rule, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone: The first time I saw that photo, I’d been sent there by a link which didn’t say exactly what was wrong, and I spent ten minutes trying to figure out what the big deal was because it simply never occurred to me to look at the bear itself rather than the child or some picture or message in the room.

      I thus don’t find it impossible to imagine that some harried executive who hired an ad agency precisely because he doesn’t care about the details of a campaign might have glanced at it, thought, “Good enough, I have to get to my next meeting,” and signed off without a second thought, never noticing that the odd black pattern on the bear wasn’t just weird striping.

    • Surellin

      Transgressivism taken to the nth degree becomes nihilism. We’re getting there!

    • Fred Z

      Stephen J is correct.

      The assumption inherent in “Someone at the company signed this off. Why didn’t he or she take one look at the juxtaposition of a sad-eyed child and BDSM imagery…” is that the “someone” is intelligent, observant and careful. Nope, he or she is none of those things, he or she is middle management – a drone.

    • John

      Near-naked men in bondage gear are a regular feature of pride marches (based on the news reporting of such events, I have no wish to ever attend one) where small children are brought along by their parents to cheer the freaks and in some cases actually participate in the parade. In the same way small children are encouraged to interact with drag queens, learning to twerk and “working the room” for tips.

      All of this is considered praiseworthy by the bien pensant and actively encouraged by education systems on both sides of the pond.

      So why all the pearl-clutching about bondage bear? Is the much-maligned rainbow dildo butt monkey really more of a threat to impressionable children than the likes of Big Fanny the drag queen delivering his weekly story hour at a school or library close to you? I suggest it’s quite the opposite.

    • FrankH

      I’d never heard of Balenciaga so the advertising campaign has achieved one of its goals: brand recognition. It reminds me of Benetton, who seemed to be eternally apologising for their current ad (while working on the next edgy ad) back in the 90s. I haven’t heard much of them lately, have they joined the grown ups?

    • Peter MacFarlane

      There’s a – possibly apocryphal – anecdote in The Gulag Archipelago, the moral of which is “never be the first to stop applauding”. The prominent local official who did stop first, after 20-minutes of a still-ongoing standing ovation to Stalin, was arrested the next day and never heard of again.

      The parallels are striking.

    • Stonyground

      Benetton played the pearl clutchers really cleverly really. They always got a huge reaction which was exactly what they wanted. The usual suspects in the media were too stupid to ignore them and mess up the plan.

    • Stephen J.

      I think it has less to do with intelligence and more to do with the fact that even the smartest people can miss the apparently obvious if they haven’t already been primed to look for it, or if their attention has been deliberately distracted first. People see what they expect to see, and almost nobody expects a teddy bear in BDSM gear.

    • JJM

      Though actually, Benetton was quite careful in its approach.

      In the mid-Nineties, while in Zagreb, Croatia, there were some big billboard ads for United Colors of Benetton that displayed three identical human hearts labelled WHITE, BLACK and YELLOW. Given where I was, I always thought a truly brave, “cutting edge” ad would have labelled those hearts BOSNIAC, CROAT and SERB.

    • The Sanity Inspector

      “I vass chust following orders…”

    • I note that the photographer – Gabriele Galimberti – has made a statement that it wasn’t his fault yadda yadda, he was just following orders etc. It seems to me that no one forced him to take the money for this. He could quite easily have showed up at the set, looked at it and gone “nope”

      He didn’t.

      In fact there’s a whole load of people who could likewise have said “nope” but didn’t. Some of them might have feared for their job or future job prospects if they said no, but Gabriele Galimberti for one certainly had no fear of that.

    • Paul Marks

      The sexualisation of children, indeed the sexual mutilation of children, is a key part of the international “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” agenda – supported by Big Business Corporations such as Disney (who own ABC news) and Comcast (who own NBC news).

      As for the United Kingdom – the Conservative Party government refuses to repeal the Equality Act of 2010 (the key stone in the long project of turning the Diversity policy into law), yet appears to be opposed to the sexual mutilation of children – not understanding that this is a key part of the policy.

      Oh well better a contradictory government, such as that of the United Kingdom, than an evil government – such as the government of the United States (the Biden/Harris Administration, controlled by Mr Obama and his followers, is in full support of this policy).

      Make no mistake – the Federal Government is evil. And calling me a “stooge of Putin” or a “stooge of the People’s Republic of China”, regimes I have always opposed – whereas Western governments and corporations have often crawled-to-them, does not alter the fact that the United States government is evil.

    • bobby b

      I’m surprised that the Easter Egg contained within one of those pics – the printed case of US v. Williams – hasn’t received more attention than it has.

      Given what that case holds – and how Scalia must have been chuckling as he wrote it – it leaves me wondering if the photog has an assistant who was unhappy that he took that Balenciaga job.

    • Steven R

      Once upon a time there was a public library. The way this particular library was laid out meant that the juvenile section was on a different floor than the adult sections. One day a patron came in, a patron with a sex offender record. He marched right up to the juvenile floor so he could use the public computers. Objections were made to the library director and the staff were told that while they could watch the patron like a hawk to make sure he didn’t do anything, we could not make him go to the adult floors because it would somehow violate his rights, or so the courts have said, thus the staff could do nothing.

      A juvenile chess club was started at this same library, marketed towards preteens. One day, our sex offender friend showed up, ostensibly to learn chess. Objections from the staff were made, again, and the same reply came from the director. The staff could not kick a single man without a child and with a sex offender conviction out of a kids’ chess club because it would somehow discriminate against him because of his age.

      I think more than just not wanting to be the first one to stop clapping, much of these kinds of stories come down to the fact that sex offenders and drag queens who are told “no” sue and libraries are gun shy of both losing funding and the bad press that comes with stories in the press of discriminating against the Alphabet People.

    • Kirk

      The problem is that the pervs exploit the space created by decent civilized folk making rules and trying to live by them.

      What isn’t recognized by any of them is that they’re basically destroying the rationale for such common decency, and setting the conditions such that “Nature, red in tooth and claw…” will shortly become the modus operandi for more and more of the general public.

      When that happens, it won’t take too long before someone deals with this situation on their own, and it’ll be a case of “Bob? Bob who? Never heard of him… Oh, you mean that guy who was perving on the grade-schoolers at the library? Yeah; he left here the other day, and I have no idea at all where he went afterwards…”

      Whilst said “witness” knows damn good and well that what happened was that someone noted Bob’s activities, placed a couple of phone calls, and Bob walked out of the library into the hands of the local vigilance committee who noted his behavior and decided that since the duly appointed authorities weren’t being at all effective in providing behavioral correction to Bob, they had a superior and more permanent solution in hand.

      More than likely, Bob’s body won’t ever be found, and if it is, some pathologist is going to either spend the rest of his life haunted by that particular autopsy, or he’s going to dine out on it at every pathologist’s convention he ever goes to. The thing they’ll all find so fascinating will likely be trying to work out precisely which of the many fatal insults and injuries inflicted on Bob was the one that actually killed him.

      It’ll just depend on the personality of the pathologist, and how strong a stomach they have.

      Bob, in any case, won’t be molesting any more kids. Ever.

    • Stephen J.

      “The problem is that the pervs exploit the space created by decent civilized folk making rules and trying to live by them.”

      Absolutely; criminals of any sort will always do this, that’s what makes them criminals.

      Unfortunately this in itself is not justification for abandoning those rules. As Thomas More tells William Roper in A Man for All Seasons, tearing down every law in England to get at the Devil only means the Devil will turn on you when the last law is down.

    • Paul Marks

      People – we are not allowed to say “paedophile” anymore, let alone “pervert”. It is “minor attracted persons” now.

      This is a vital part of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) agenda – which, in turn, is part of the Environment and Social Governance (ESG) agenda.

      Get with the program people – otherwise the Corporate media will denounce you (NBC, ABC and-so-on) and the FBI may arrive, in overwhelming force, to stick rifles in your face, to drag you off to prison to have your attitude adjusted by lots and lots of rape, and other abuse.

    • Steven R

      The problem comes down to no one is able to use any common sense. Kick a sex offender out of the kid’s section to proactively protect the kids. He sues. The courts should be ale to say “you’re right, the library can’t discriminate by age, but this isn’t the same thing. You’re a threat to kids and the library isn’t being malicious, so too bad, so sad, bye-bye.”

      We’ve become hostage to our very institutions because everyone is so hide-bound to rules and regulations that no one can use any common sense because it will be taken to court, where even the judges can’t exercise common sense.

      There was a book that came out some years back with the apt title of “The Death of Common Sense” and had numerous stories like my library one. The one the really stuck out was a bunch of nuns bought and renovated a building in NYC to use as a homeless shelter. Great, except the building was old and didn’t have an elevator and no way to put one in short of tearing the building down and starting from scratch. The code people came in and shut the project down because of the elevator, meaning however many homeless people the nuns could have helped were back on the streets at the same time the mayor of NYC was crying to the media about the homeless problem. Yes, I understand the point of the elevator, but when there is a problem with too many bums and some nuns come along with a solution to at least help, the city shouldn’t just say “no because of the rule book”.

      There is another solution to the perverts in libraries that doesn’t involve disappearing them (although I have no real problem with that). Libraries live and die based on usage statistics. Parents need to stop taking their kids to public libraries, tell the libraries, and more importantly tell the feds, state, and county funding agencies why they aren’t taking their kids to libraries. At least then the libraries can tell the drag queens they won’t be doing story time because when they do kids aren’t showing up and it has nothing to do with their sexuality and only to do with numbers.

    • Kirk

      Stephen J said:

      Unfortunately this in itself is not justification for abandoning those rules. As Thomas More tells William Roper in A Man for All Seasons, tearing down every law in England to get at the Devil only means the Devil will turn on you when the last law is down.

      Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m advocating for either course of action. I’m just observing things, here, and pointing out the likely results stemming from these things. Me? I like civilization as built up during the 19th and 20th Centuries, and I decry its destruction by the various idiots responsible.

      The numpties, luvvies, and do-gooders that have brought us to this state do not understand the world as it actually is. They live in a lovely little dream-palace they’ve constructed in their imagination, where there are precisely zero repercussions for the things they’ve changed, and where there will never, ever be any “unintended consequences” manifesting in the dark. They live in a world that is inherently prone to the violent opposition created by what they imagine are “Black Swan” events, but which are actually the natural and foreseeable second-, third-, and fourth-order effects of their brilliant ideas being put into effect.

      What I’m saying here should not be taken to mean that I approve of any of the horrors about to be unleashed by the idiocies inherent to those brilliant ideas being released. I’d far prefer that they remain as unrealized nightmares, but the raw fact is, people are not going to put up with this crap for very much longer, and once an inflection point is reached, then the preference cascade for anarchy and vigilantism is going to be reached. Putting that particular genie back into its bottle will be the work of generations.

      You’ll know its here when the cops are afraid to even look at the results of vigilante action, knowing that if they dare investigate, let alone prosecute, then the entire community will turn on them, instead. Somewhere shortly after that, their budgets are going to be cut severely, because they’re performing no real function in society at that point.

      I keep telling people these things, but they never believe me. Until it’s too damn late to do anything about it.

      You want a likely model for what’s going to become increasingly prevalent? Look to the fate of one Ken Rex McElroy:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_McElroy

      It took McElroy decades to piss his neighbors off enough to convince them that there was something that had to be done. That was in a community where there was a more-or-less working legal system, which utterly failed at modifying behavior in McElroy’s case. What flowed out of that? The body of the community taking action, and then basically ignoring the “authorities” that let it happen.

      People will not remain victims. One way or another, you’re going to find that they’ll respond. Look at what is going on in China and Iran, right now: People pushed too damn far. What happens once the idiots succeed in destroying our previously somewhat-effective legal system? Look the hell out, is all I can say.

      I ain’t looking forward to the era of leather assless chaps any more than the next guy is, but I guarantee you that unless these ineffectual do-gooding dipwads are to a stop, it’s coming. Probably sooner than any of us think.

    • Paul Marks

      I repeat.

      This is part of the international DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) agenda, which is, turn, part of the ESG (Environmental and Social Governance) agenda.

      Writing as if all this is happening by accident is wrong – it is happening on purpose, and the education system, the government bureaucracy and the corporate bureaucracy (as if there is a real distinction between the government and the corporate bureaucracy) are all pushing it – including the Corporate media such as NBC news.

      The death of the West is not a natural one – Western civilisation is being murdered.

    • Stephen J.

      In the spirit of publicly acknowledging when I’m wrong, I should add that I no longer believe in the “harried executive signed off on something he didn’t look at closely” theory, not when I read about the history and character of lead Balenciega designer Lotta Volkova.

    • bobby b

      The ad look is entirely consistent with the dark look some brands seek. I think they just hang out exclusively with similarly dark people and no one was normal enough to say “uh, maybe too far . . . ”

      Oops.

      But, when the furor dies, I bet this ad campaign ends up being very good for their sales. The people who are outraged were never their target market. I bet they sell out all over, to people who want to be transgressors.

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