Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Iron Man Review

I had the fortune of attending an advance screening (thanks G!) of the new Paramount/Marvel film - Iron Man and I was pleasantly surprised by Robert Downey Jr.'s performance as Tony Stark. In the past, I have been disappointed with some comic book adaptation films (wanting to immediately run home and read the original comics and stories and forget the failed movie adaptation) because the characters and stories got lost in the translation from comic to film - so I've now learned to enter all comic book adaptation films without any expectations.

The film revolves around a very relevant topic of terrorism in Afghanistan and the use and sale of technologically advanced weapons created by Stark industries. Robert Downey Jr. plays Tony Stark, a billionaire playboy and technological genius, and the story follows his capture by terrorists in which he realizes that the very weapons that he has been creating to protect the innocent are being used against them. He has an epiphany that he can no longer contribute to the creation of these weapons of mass destruction and instead focuses his genius and energy into creating an armored suit which endows him with flight, super strength, and a lot of kick ass weapons to fight the terrorists. Robert Downey Jr. had quite a challenge in taking on this role because the real star of this movie is the Iron Man suit (which in reality took Robert Downey Jr. 80 mins to get in and out of), but he did an amazing job - as the Iron Man suit accentuates the character of Tony Stark rather than the opposite. The costume designers or prop designers that created the suit matched the comic version exactly. This film has great special effects, believable CGI animation, a cameo featuring Marvel comics founder Stan Lee, and convincing performances by Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff bridges. I grew up reading Iron Man comics in my youth and Robert Downey Jr. had me convinced that he was Tony Stark. The performances by Terence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow were forgettable and the studio could have cast anyone to play the roles of Lt. Colonel Rhodes and Tony Stark's assistant Virginia "Pepper" Potts (thank goodness Gwyneth Paltrow did not put on her fake British accent!). Overall, this film is worth checking for the special effects, the Iron Man suit, and Robert Downey Jr.'s amazing performance.

Yay to Iron Man!!!

Batman The Dark Knight Viral Marketing Trailer

I came across this interesting trailer for the new "Batman The Dark Knight" movie which features a trailer which has supposedly been defaced by the Joker. This extremely clever and brilliant approach to this trailer leads the viewer to believe that the Joker has intercepted the trailer and defaced it. This trailer was sent out to 12 winners in a variety of cities in the old school 35mm projection format and is part of the viral marketing campaign for this new movie - the notion that the winners would upload and share/distribute this trailer through their social networks. Warner Brothers studios has embraced social media and definitely exploited its power in this ad campaign. This video was uploaded to Youtube 22 hours ago (from the time of this entry) and already has over 47,000 hits by people who actually care about this movie and want to share this trailer. Kudos to the marketing team behind this concept for identifying their market and for coming up with an ingenious and unique way to speak to fans of the Batman franchise and simultaneously address the "cool" factor. It is refreshing to see a major film studio, like Warner Brothers, step up to the plate, rethink their traditional advertising strategies, and tap into the power of Web 2.0.

Yay to this Joker Defaced "Batman The Dark Knight" Trailer!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Unpublicized Gay Kiss on "As The World Turns"

I came across a news clipping about the most recent gay kiss between two characters, Luke and Noah, on the daytime soap opera "As The World Turns" and how it was unpublicized in the media and the press. As I do not watch ATWT I am not aware of the two characters' storyline, but my understanding is that these two gay characters were given less scenes to express their passion and love for each other, as compared to all of the heterosexual relationships on this program. Their sexy time apparently occurred, but was infrequently written into the production schedule. So this kiss was a surprise for viewers because producers did not advertise or build up hype to this gay kiss. In the past, an on screen kiss between two people of the same sex was seen as shocking and controversial and definitely a strategy to boost viewership and get ratings, but the reality is it is the year 2008 and I am happy to say, for the most part, people are over the "gay kiss" - as they should be. By not promoting this gay kiss as a shocking and controversial event, ATWT producers (whether consciouly or unconsciously) have endorsed and reinforced the normalcy of the concept of gay characters kissing - forcing viewers to think about and accept the "gay kiss".

Yay to the producers of "As The World Turns"

Monday, April 21, 2008

Madonna Hard Candy Leaked Tracks

It has come to my attention (thanks cat!) that the following tracks from Madonna's "Hard Candy" album, in stores on April 29, have been "leaked" to the internet. I am skeptical about who leaked these tracks - did Warner music leak these tracks in order to create buzz and hype? Coincidentally, only certain tracks, the more commercial tracks and the tracks that could potentially be future singles, were leaked. Listen to them below. Nonetheless, I am feeling Madonna's new tracks and they definitely make the listener think about the commercialization of rap and the integration of rap artists with pop artists.

These tracks have been pulled. Were we being teased?


Miles Away

Give It To Me

Spanish Lesson

Yay to these new Madonna tracks!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hedi Slimane Shoots Kate Moss for International Women's Day

In honor of International Women's Day, Hedi Slimane has photographed a series of nudes of Kate Moss titled "Liberation". I LOVE all of these shots - I am speechless by the beauty of every photograph and the vison which is the Hedi Slimane aesthetic. I would expect nothing less from Hedi. I believe that this is going to be the year of a resurgence to prominence and pop culture relevance for Kate Moss (see Kate for YSL in my previous entries). The concept of shooting a supermodel for an International Women's Day exhibit is brilliant - the juxtaposition of these two antithetical concepts, women's liberation and supermodels and the stigma associated with the modelling industry, forces the viewer to really think about the context and to think about how much women have accomplished. Kate Moss is truly a brand to be reckoned with and she epitomizes the concept of the liberated woman in today's world. Kate is the ultimate femme fatale and she never ceases to amaze me with her innovative and creative endeavors.

Yay to Hedi Slimane and Kate Moss for showing the world true "Liberation"!!!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Italian Rugby Team for Just Cavalli Underwear

I came across this ad for Just Cavalli underwear featuring Italian rugby team Montepaschi Viadana shot by photographer Gianpaolo Sgura. I find it interesting that athletes are landing major fashion underwear campaigns and I think that this is such a clever way to reach a market that may have been previously over looked. There was Freddy Ljungberg for Calvin Klein, David Beckham for Armani, but this is the first time that I have come across a high profile fashion house underwear ad campaign featuring multiple members of the same sports team. The ad was shot in the team locker room of the Montepaschi Viadana and the look of the ad speaks to a number of psychographic factors. The locker room style approach addresses viewers who are active athletes and it allows these viewers to identify with the ad (the notion that they could be in a similar situation in a similar locker room) and once the identification has been established in the viewer then this is when the ad begins to truly work because the product will now be associated with that situation. This ad also contains a subtle homoerotic element which directly addresses a large percentage of the designer underwear consumer market - gay males. The use of the five members from Montepaschi Viadana helps to reinforce and endorse notions of masculintiy, brotherhood, and team fraternity, but it also functions to incorporate more styles of the product into the ad and solidify the Just Cavalli branding in the viewer's mind. Looking at this ad again, I wonder if we will ever see a high profile fashion house ever feature members from a women's sports team in their underwear?

Yay to Just Cavalli Underwear for being so clever in their ad campaign!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Banksy - One Nation Under CCTV

Banksy is an infamous and anonymous British graffiti artist that creates graffiti art pieces on buildings around Britain that are usually charged with anti-war, anti-capitalist and/or anti-establishment messages. His graffiti art incorporates the use of stencils and features animals such as monkeys and rats, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly as his subjects. This artist has established himself as a pop cultural icon and he has a huge fan following. Although Banksy has an agent, his appearance and identity remain a mystery. I am fascinated by the mystique that Banksy has created around himself and I LOVE the intellectually stimulating aspects of all of his works - he simultaneously challenges his viewers to think and he automatically provokes a corresponding emotional response. Not only does Banksy produce fine art, but he takes it to the next level by addressing societal issues and instilling a social consciousness into his viewers.

His most recent work, Nation Under CCTV, is his largest piece to date and can be found on the side of a central London building. It is a commentary on the Orwellian notion of "Big Brother" - we are always being watched over by Big Brother. This is an extremely socially relevant topic to address in today's world, with our insatiable obsession with broadcasting ourselves and watching others' broadcasts/videos. With all good art, this piece is open to a variety of interpretations, but my interpretation of the piece reads as our social obsession with voyeurism has become more of a priority than enforcing the law. It totally makes me think about the sudden increase in Youtube videos of kids filming videos of other kids assaulting and, in some cases, killing other kids all for the purpose of having a video to upload and share - regardless of the fact that the victim may be dead or about to die! Banksy's piece definitely speaks on many levels and forces the viewer to think.

Yay to Banksy for being mysterious and making us think!!!

Gossip Girl - OMFG

I am LOVING the new ad campaign for the new episodes of the hit television show Gossip Girl. Gossip girl is a tele-drama that follows a group of teenage New York socialites and the story is told in a blog-style narrative; it has been at the top of the Nielsen television ratings. Gossip Girl is based on a series of books by author Cecily von Ziegesar and it has been brought to television life by Josh Schwartz - who also created The OC. With the advent of the writers strike, Gossip Girl fans have been stuck with repeats, but these new episodes of Gossip Girl are being promoted and hyped as even more racy and shocking then prior episodes. To add to the controversy, in the first new episode since the writers strike, a gay character will be revealed. I love the simplicity of this ad and the brilliance of recognizing and incorporating the primary communication language of the show's target audience - texting. This ad effectively and efficiently speaks directly to the show's target audience/market in a way which is socially relevant, intriguing, and cool. OMFG (texting acronym for Oh My Fucking God) is all that needs to be said.

Yay to this thought provoking ad campaign for Gossip Girl!!!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Karl Lagerfeld Does Grand Theft Auto

Karl Lagerfeld is truly a visionary and he definitely knows how to maintain his relevance and presence within pop culture. His latest endeavor involves the highly successful video game brand Grand Theft Auto (Grand Theft Auto IV), in which Karl will play himself and assume the role as a DJ on one of the radio stations featured in the video game. Karl will select some of his favorite dance and electronica tracks to be featured in the game and then these tracks will appear on one of the multiple soundtracks for the video game. This is the first time that a legendary fashion design icon + video game integration has ever been attempted. It is a collaboration that will definitely speak to many video game fans and fashionistas and it is a perfect fit. Karl has previously released compilation cds of his favorite music tracks, so teaming up with Rockstar games in order to expand his presence into a further form of entertainment media is extremely clever and brilliant. Karl Lagerfeld "Gets it" and he definitely makes people think - whether it be through his designs, his photographs, his films, or his musical tastes.

Yay to Karl Lagerfeld for being an intelligent opportunist!!!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Dolce & Gabbana Targets Gay Audience

I came across these commercials for Dolce & Gabbana jewelery and I found them extremely interesting, effective, and clever. Both commercials target and address the gay consumer and it is refreshing to see that such a huge fashion brand acknowledges and embraces this segment of their market. I think back to a time before the early 90's when commercials/ads like this did not exist and if they did they were considered to be extremely risqué and/or were censored. I also LOVE and am impressed by the fact that this ad has two versions: a male version and a female version. I think it is important to recognize and acknowledge the fact that not only are women usually subordinated in the patriarchal heterosexual world, they are often subordinated in the gay world too; so the fact that the female version of this ad exists speaks volumes.

On the flipside, from a strategic perspective, we could view these two versions of the commercial as the Dolce & Gabbana marketing team recognizing, exploiting, and capitalizing on a segment of the market with huge purchasing power and highly impressionable spending habits. That is, gay men and women are infamous for their highly disposable incomes, and coinciding with these spending habits - are tastes and desires that are shaped by and highly influenced by the media and gay cultural values - in regards to notions and definitions of what is cool and what a gay individual needs to possess in order to be cool, and ultimately - to belong. It is a fact that subjugated and oppressed groups always want to belong and if an advertiser can create a "way in" to being included (whether it be by owning a watch, or wearing a ribbon, or decorating their home in a certain aesthetic) or if the advertiser can create the feeling of inclusion, then the ad will be successful. Clearly, these highly stylized Dolce & Gabbana commercials impact and put the message out there - it is now up to and dependent upon the viewers' susceptibility to internalize these messages and act upon these desires and needs.

At the end of the day, which ever way we choose to perceive these commercials, I am grateful that the initiative was taken and I am grateful that Dolce & Gabbana challenged some people's comfort zones and challenged people to think.

Yay to Dolce & Gabbana's gay advertising!!!



Thursday, April 10, 2008

Costume National SS 08

I am a huge fan of Costume National and I am LOVING their Spring/Summer 2008 collection. I especially loved the color palette and all of the coats. I found the majority of the collection to be wearable and the fabric choices are amazing. I always have difficulty finding a pair of pants that fit properly and a pair that does not look frumpy or shapeless, so I loved the variety in the shapes of the pants from tapered to loose and baggy, and the fit was perfect.

Yay to Costume National for understanding the male body!!!!!!

Kate Moss for YSL

I came across this amazing video of Kate Moss for the YSL Spring/Summer 2008 campaign. This video really highlights and reinforces Kate's stature as a supermodel and just how relevant she really is to the fashion industry. Just by watching this behind the scenes style footage we realize how professional and how effortless it is for her to be high fashion and to be able to capture the mood, tone, feel, and attitude of YSL. Yes, Kate has been modelling since she was a teenager, so she definitely has the experience, but there is a certain "je ne sais quoi" about her that sets her apart from other supermodels. I love the concept of this campaign and it is refreshing to see such a creative, yet simple and clever approach to the print ad portion of the SS 08 YSL campaign. I am glad that Kate ended her rocky relationship with Pete Doherty and that she is not receiving any negative publicity due to a fucked up relationship anymore. I realize that I shouldn't pity Kate, and I don't, but I feel that it would be difficult to fill the shoes of a supermodel and even more difficult to constantly be expected to fulfill and live up to all of those socially constructed ideals and myths about beauty that we have so passively bought into and consciously reinforce on a day to day basis.

Yay to Kate Moss for YSL SS 08 for showing us that she is still a High Fashion force to be reckoned with!!!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Madonna - 4 Minutes

Thanks to a very dear friend and fellow Madonna devotee (thanks D!), I was able to finally see the new Madonna video for "4 Minutes" and after my second viewing, I LOVE it!

With all Madonna videos, my initial viewing is always spent articulating the concept, story, fashion, style, dance routine, vision and message that Madonna is ultimately communicating and putting out there. Madonna has openly admitted in the past that she may not be the best singer, but she is interested in "pushing people's buttons" and challenging people to think for themselves - this insatiable need to always push the envelope and to be innovative and to be socially relevant is definitely one of the keys to Madonna's staying power and dominant presence within pop culture and the music industry. By consistently creating this artistic and visionary mystique, or "hype", around herself and all of her endeavors, fans and non-fans have come to expect a certain level of genius and uncompromisable artistic integrity - which Madonna has never failed to deliver.

This video was directed by French directing team Jonas & Francois, they have directed videos for Kanye West and Justice, and they are the "it" directors of the moment. The video utilizes an interesting animation style treatment that is effective and conveys the message that the world/reality is slowly being consumed and our heroine, Madonna, and hero, Justin Timberlake have only got 4 minutes to save the world. There are a number of backdrops along our heroes' journey, but inevitably the final backdrop, where a dance battle between Madonna and Justin ensues, is a digital clock counting down the 4 minutes. Story wise, in trying to make sense of the final scene, I am not really sure how a dance battle between Madonna and Justin can save the world so I am now interpreting the scene as Madonna and Justin uniting to dance and show up the black animated nemesis that is slowly moving in on them. The dance routine is slightly choreographed, but more of a freestyle collaboration of the two artists' very unique dance styles - with Madonna incorporating her trademark yoga flexibility and Justin incorporating his B-Boy/Michael Jackson moves. The subtle and clever incorporation of previous moments in Madonna's career - the use of the treadmill routine was taken directly from "Nobody Knows Me" from Madonna's Re-Invention tour and the dance battle concept can be previously seen in her "Sorry" video (both HUGE fan favorites), function to pay homage to herself and "push those buttons" that were pushed before and resulted in success. Madonna is in tune and highly aware of what her fans like and she is definitely skilled at building upon those successes. I also LOVE the subtle satire and clever use of the "wardrobe malfunction" dance move, in which Madonna and Justin rip clothes off of each other (Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson infamously screwed up a similar dance move in their Superbowl collaboration a few years ago), in this video which adds to the overall FIERCE-NESS and HOT-NESS of this video. The styling is spot on and goes with the characters that Madonna and Justin are portraying without getting to outlandish or far fetched - I believe that this is what Madonna and Justin as heroes would be wearing. The overall look of the video is slick, fresh, and very 2008. Many articles, some negative, have been written regarding Madonna's use of soft focus filters, air brushing, and the use of digital imaging post production in order to get Madonna to look this stunning - why wouldn't an artist utilize all of these technological advances to improve themselves? Don't hate - congratulate!

Disappointingly, my previous article about the 4 Minutes video premiering on an advertising micro-site - tick-tock tv on April 4 @ 4:44 PM never happened - we were just being teased....... Watch it below before it gets removed from Youtube!!!!

Yay to Madonna and this video for 4 Minutes!!!!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Margaret Cho - Beautiful

I had the fortune and pleasure of attending the Margaret Cho "Beautiful" stand up performance tonight and, as always, Margaret posed many thought provoking questions and challenged her audience to realize how beautiful they all truly are. I don't really view her as a comic, per se, but I view her more as a social commentator - she completely "gets it". Margaret is an inspiration and role model to me and I am always interested in her views on life and hearing about her many life experiences. Tonight, she touched on many topics (Republican sex scandals, young Hollywood, gay marriage, homophobia, sexuality, religion, and so much more), but the overall theme and message of her show was about acknowledging that every individual has inner beauty, finding that inner beauty within, embracing that inner beauty, and ultimately, drawing self strength from one's inner beauty. We live in a society in which concepts of beauty are socially constructed and misconstrued by the media and these constructs resonate in many facets of life, some leading to dire consequences - such as eating disorders and fatal cosmetic surgery procedures. We are all guilty, to some extent, of buying into the socially constructed ideals of beauty that are fed to us by the media and pop culture, so it is refreshing to be reminded or to be made aware that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that we are all beautiful.

Yay to Margaret Cho for being beautiful!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Madonna - 4 Minutes Music Video Premiere

I just came across this clever and BRILLIANT marketing campaign for the new Madonna video for the first single, "4 Minutes", from her new album Hard Candy. Upon opening the site, a stop watch opens with Madonna's voice emulating the sounds of the stop watch, "tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock tick-tock". There is no further navigation or other pages to view - clearly suggesting that this is the countdown to the premiere of her new music video for "4 Minutes", which will be shown on this site on April 4, 2008 at 4:44PM. This is a clear example of how artist's have embraced the mass appeal of the internet and the effectiveness of mass communication. I am postive that strategic ad buys were made in markets that are highly influential from a viral marketing perspective - I discovered this ad myself on an entertainment blog. This ad campaign reinforces the notions that Madonna is: the ultimate business woman, a true visionary, and always ahead of the game.

Yay to Madonna for always being able identify those exploitable markets and making them WORK for her!

Kylie on Dancing with the Stars

I am a huge Kylie fan and it was refreshing to see her make her North American debut on such a highly viewed and fitting show for her. Kylie has had many incarnations (Indie Kylie, Pop Kylie, Dance Kylie, Party Girl Kylie, etc.), but I definitely think that "Dance Kylie" is the incarnation that she needs to assume and this identity will WORK for her and sell in America. Canadians already know about Kylie and she already has a huge following here. It is interesting how difficult the American music market can be to break into for an artist - specifically, if that recording artist does not simply regurgitate trite and formulaic sounds. Kylie's performance on Dancing with the Stars coincided with the American release of her latest album "X" (which was already released in Canada in 2007) and her unique sound definitely challenges viewers and listeners to think about the music that appeals to them. The first American single, "All I See", was featured in her performance last night and it is interesting that this was the single chosen to be released first in America. In addition, a remix of "All I See" was made which includes a rap artist named Mims. The first single released in both the UK and Canada was "2 Hearts" a completely different sounding single. It is interesting that EMI America chose "All I See" to be the first American single and that they chose to add an urban flare to it with Mims rap. Pop music with rap collaborations tend to sell better in America and hopefully this strategy will break Kylie into the American market; the pop music/rap collaboration worked well for Nelly Furtado and even Madonna is now attempting this strategy. Personally, I feel that EMI America should have used any one of the following tracks as the first single, and in this order, from her album: In My Arms, The One, Wow. It will be interesting to see how "X" performs in sound scan metrics. Check all of these discussed tracks below...

Yay to Kylie for introducing her sound to America and making Americans think!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kylie Minogue "In My Arms" Video

I know this video for Kylie's "In My Arms" has been out for a while now, but I wanted to write about it because I LOVE the look of this video and the fashion looks in this video. I have heard rumours that Kylie and her stylist, William Baker, will be parting ways - which I think is long over due. Kylie has had some brilliant fashion moments (the Dolce & Gabbana hooded dress in the Can't Get You Out Of My Head video, John Galliano designed her costumes for her Let's Get To It Tour in the early 90's, and Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld designed costumes for the Showgirl tour), but I definitely think she needs to move in a new direction and collaborate with multiple stylists and designers so that her look is always fresh and so that she is always re-invented.

This video is fun, fresh, sexy, and visually stunning. Love the sunglasses, the use of color, the shapes, the styling, and the Jeremy Scott for Adidas track suits worn by the back up dancers. Defintely refreshing, innovative, and provocative.

Yay to Kylie Minogue's "In My Arms" video!!!!!