Extra Credit Presentation Response

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Response to Calvin Klein: The Real CK (Presented on 5/2/2011 from Group A)

Calvin Kleins work as been described as a lifestyle and not just a brand of clothes. By extending his brand to scents and accessories he may have supported this claim. So what is the lifestyle that Mr. CK has created? This groups presentation first made the claim that this lifestyle was sharply divided betweent the two genders. His advertisements reinforce heteronormative views of muscled men and wily women. Having seen his ads before I agree with this groups claim. Rarely are women portrayed as strong and independent much in the same way that men are not portrayed in comprimising or vulnerable states.

The group then went on to claim that this created lifestyle extended into the realm of defining sexuality. What is interesting is that the group brought up images of masculine women and feminine men and seemed to make the arguement that CK blurs the gender lines. This seems contradictory to their previous point. I will say that in my experience CK ads have reaffirmed gender norms and rules and have rarely if ever served to break down barriers within the binary system.

In regards to heteronormativity the group elaborates on the topic of sexuality by saying the the CK lifestyle is exclusive to only heterosexuals. Again, based on my experience, I would agree with this statement. What does that say about CK's opinion of how clothing should be sold? Is it that sex sells only when that sex is heterosexual? I think while CK may not believe this personally, it is definitely present in his campaigns. This is probably more the result of a percieved silent majority conforming to unwritten gender and sexuality rules.

Another interesting point is the closing arguement that CK ads support "freedom" and "love". How can this be when CK is supporting strict gender rules (or is he) and excluding a homosexual presence in his ads? The message of this presentation seemed somewhat conflicted. Maybe that is the nature of the CK media machine. Mixed signals and ambiguity may serve as a shield against claims that his company is taking a stance one way or the other. Though this issue wasn't made clear by the presenters, there is certainly something to the body of CK's media output that leaves room for confusion.

I found the presentation informative and thought provoking when it comes to issues of gender and sexuality that are presented, if not forced upon us, in the media.

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