PRINT December 1995

Michael Musto


Those CALVIN KLEIN ADS—the ones with young ’uns striking poses in suburban rec rooms and being asked leering questions by an off-screen male—were the most delicious media event of the year. Bringing teenage sexuality to the front half of everyone’s brains, they pushed buttons and made people livid, the way a great, nasty, confrontational ad campaign should. And, thanks to the controversy, the ads made Calvin cutting edge again, getting people to talk about the ethical limits of sexual pleading way beyond the campaign’s short life span. The only drawback was that so many people—some of them hypocrites who spend their days cruising 16-year-olds on the street—were up in arms over their blatant sexuality. Aligning with them, cowardly Calvin pulled the ads almost instantly, but without ever acknowledging the way they blatantly sold sex. To him, apparently, they were innocent expressions of teenage affirmation, not well-orchestrated exercises in soft-core porn. But with their intentional rough-and-ready sleaziness, I considered them a major breakthrough in advertising in front of which I sat in awe, wrongly assured that we’d entered a brave new world.


Similarly, SHOWGIRLS’ meretricious writer Joe Eszterhas trudged through the media trying to paint the flick as a redemptive and enriching tale, instead of a trashy, crappy bunch of hackneyisms so trite we’d forgotten they existed. As campily, unintentionally funny as the film is, the duplicitous values involved in its creation and marketing make it easily the worst movie experience of the year.

Michael Musto writes a weekly column for The Village Voice, New York.