Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tom Ford's new slant: his Asian perfume is Golden

Political correctness doesn't look for reasons to be offended by a Tom Ford Asian perfume PR. Words like "slant" matter.

Full disclosure: I am an independent perfumer and blogger. No sponsor pays me to form my opinions. I buy the perfumes or perfume samples I review, unless a fellow perfume aficionado and I agree to trade samples, or I get them from a store like Sephora for free. I receive nothing from perfume companies directly--neither products nor promotional ad copies. The couple of times I did get swag was though freelance work I did for other perfume sites. All opinions stated on this blog are mine.

Opine, I do, like it's my job to speak out when I see something wrong. I have been silenced more than once, on blogs and forums, on the subject of racism in the perfume industry.

My opponents say the problem with my pointing out racism in the perfume industry is my political correctness. The first problem with being PC, they told me, was that I'm looking for reasons to feel offended and that I would have to prove that what I saw as racist was in fact racist, intentionally meant to imply racism. That's a typical line of defense, but intention is not the issue. It's about the inappropriate usage of actual words being used. The next line of defense is usually feigned ignorance, as if words like "slant" and "golden" in the context of a Tom Ford Asian perfume ad copy were an unfortunate coincidence. This tactic is used when they want to switch off guilt and silence the matter by turning the victim into the bully and vice versa.

Another line of defense that's been thrown my way is that in policing the perfume world, I'm censoring Art. I've been told that artists like Tom Ford and Serge Lutens couldn't give a damn what a nobody like me thinks about their art, that they have earned their place to do whatever they want. I don't know if the people saying these things work for the designers, but not only does the effect of the words in their ad campaigns matter, it matters that they try to make people feel minimized in an attempt to raise the status of their brand names.

This business of having hate hidden in plain sight, when brought to its logical end (and please understand I say this not to minimize the atrocity of the Holocaust) is genocidal, like Nazis telling--or was it asking--Jewish people (and the Roma, the gays, the disabled, children and asocials unfit for labor) to "shower," which was a euphemism for the gas chamber. They went as far as building actual shower heads to fool innocent people to march to their deaths. It's the horror of creepy underhandedness that made mass murder possible, and what traumatizes the minds of all who try to understand such human cruelty even today. It's shocking that the same people who see the wrong in the heinous events of history can rationalize using metaphors and double entredres to get away with the cowardly freedom of veiled hate speech. This Memorial Day, I hope we all look back and think of just what good came out of speaking in codes, classifying humans, the art of Leni Riefenstahl.

This is why I speak out against the racism I see, no matter how small or irrelevant an issue it is to others. Words can be misconstrued, they say, and the real problem is that I'm hypersensitive. Like all illogical arguments, it doesn't hold water that political correctness causes people to find fault, and read into what people are saying and doing innocently. If they're trying to convince me that a word like slant meant nothing, they should learn that only nothing comes from nothing. If their words affect my feelings and cause offense to others like me, they will face the consequence of their words until their words matter to them as much as they do to me. If they're trying to say these perfumes weren't meant for me to buy, that message is clear.

I matter. So does my money. So do you, so speak out against evil and fear nothing, not even the silence of those idly watching it happen, for the people who side with the good are not so few and far between, stronger in numbers than Tom Ford and his LVMH team would like to believe.