Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Your Outrage Ain't Pretty

It’s been almost three weeks and a large (ahem) segment of the American population is still not over the business strategy of Abercrombie & Fitch’s CEO. What is Mike Jeffries’ crime? Jeffries is quoted as saying: “ ‘In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.’” (via Huffington Post) Jeffries’ crime is that he said something exclusionary. Neverminding the fact that 99.9% of the population acts exclusionary 99.9% of the time, Jeffries is being punished for actually saying the words.

Before upending the irrationality of Jeffries’ critics, let me be clear that I am also offended by Jeffries’ comments, but for a completely different reason. That is to say, clothes don’t make people cool. A&F clothing may be what beautiful, young, and popular kids are wearing but that doesn’t equal being cool. “Cool” is when someone wear what the fuck they want because they don’t give a fuck what other people think. Cool people don’t try and Jefferies is obviously trying. I am also somewhat puzzled that someone as unattractive as Jeffries would want to cater solely to beautiful people as if making money will conceal his physical unattractiveness. Maybe, but someone’s got issues and it’s not hard to imagine why. But, that amounts to an ad hominem attack which is neither here nor there. Forget I mentioned it.

As mentioned, Jeffries is being lambasted for speaking the words already made implicit by Abercrombie advertisements. Since when did human beings stop investing is symbology? For those offended by Jeffries’ words, they’ve somehow missed the inherent meaning of his company’s ads and it possible that said people are not as smart as they think they are. Oh, but I guess it’s different when one has proof of an Illuminati conspiracy to have beautiful people take over the world. Wait, is this what Jeffries’ critics are angry about, that he has the nerve to think some people aren’t beautiful? Remember how I was neverminding something earlier? Let me do some more neverminding that few people intentionally go looking for a mate that is unattractive to them, meaning, there are individuals who are unattractive. That being the case, I loathe this idea that everyone is beautiful, especially that everyone is beautiful on the outside. That is simply bullshit. 

The idea may be bullshit but that doesn’t mean we should exclude people under the law because of it. That said, Jeffries’ marketing strategy clearly isn’t illegal. However, his critics are acting like he is doing something illegal and I guess he is in the court of public opinion, a court by-the-way that has never had any credibility beyond holding a monkey trial. In the court of public opinion, I guess it’s illegal to exclude what is now the majority of the population from buying your product. Only, wait a second. Should I – as a 5’6” 140lbs man – call for the head of the head of Big & Tall men’s clothing store because they don’t make clothes in my size? Of course not, nor should a skinny woman get indignant about not being able to find clothes that fit in a plus-size woman’s store. What’s really going on here is this: Jeffries’ critics are trying to justify their lifestyle which, not surprisingly, consists of over-consuming calories and not exercising. With being overweight now normal for Americans, that segment of the population wishes to homogenize the overall population to the point that everyone is special until no one is special. I understand not wanting to be discriminated against, but with this attack on Jeffries, America is in actual danger of becoming vanilla, to borrow the man’s word. Nobody will be exciting anymore; we’re not allowed to be! With these attacks on individuality and capitalism, Ayn Rand is surely spinning in her grave. (Author’s note: This is not to say I think either individuality or capitalism are so great, but everyone else sure pays those two ideas some French-kissing lip-service. Or used to.)

If it’s okay to be overweight, if we’re supposed to agree to this notion that it is not okay to judge others, then why isn’t it okay for Jeffries to be a douche? What’s that, we’re still allowed to judge what’s on the inside? Right, right; it’s what’s on the inside that really counts especially when people are afraid to be judged on their outside. That’s why Jeffries is a douche. I completely understand now.

If there’s anything Jeffries is guilty of it is cutting costs for his company by not including larger sizes of clothing anymore and subsequently trying to promote his brand without gauging the weight of his words to an overly-sensitive audience. People are irrational though and Jeffries seemed never to consider that old axiom by the prophet George Carlin, “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.” Liberal, conservative, doesn’t matter; stupidity and irrationality does not discriminate. 

Update 5/22/13

The fact that people are attacking me instead of my argument supporting Jeffries’ business practice confirms that both our critics are basing their distain purely upon emotion, no logic involved whatsoever. If what is wrong with Jeffries’ business practice cannot be expressed cogently with words, his critics have no credibility. If his critics are his critics based on some kind of gut-feeling, then the same people have no business being offended by anyone who discriminates based on a gut-feeling. For example, if someone is a homophobe based upon some gut-feeling that homosexuality is wrong, that person is a douche, right? Problem is, anyone who levels a criticism based solely upon emotion is still a douche. Sure, Jeffries may be a douche but his critics – who can’t logically explain why they are angry – are then douches as well. This is exactly why appeals to emotion do not trump rationality when examining at what Jeffries said about his business. If I lack sympathy for Jeffries critics’ point-of-view, it’s mostly because whatever bizarre logic they’ve based their anger on is inconsistent. If one is going to be indignant about the business practices of A&F, I demand of those people that there be outrage at other businesses who dare target a demographic. 

Now, if I’m wrong that Jeffries’ critics are just trying to justify their own lifestyle, then what point are they trying to make, that no one should ever discriminate? Well, I’ve already blown that assertion to smithereens and haven’t heard a remotely intelligent rebuttal, probably because there is none. Maybe it is the case that people feel as though this is really about bullying? I’m asking because I did see this comment made on one message board and I am baffled as to how Jeffries’ words can be construed as bullying. If it is a case of bullying, isn’t bullying A&F with protests and boycotts just as wrong? Oh well, you can’t tell people who react to the world emotionally that two wrong STILL don’t make a right.

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