40 Years Ago: TV Bans Calvin Klein Ads with Brooke Shields
Today in 1980, CBS and ABC forbade commercials featuring a 15-year-old model in skin-tight denim
One of the clutch go-to moves of this newsletter is to dig up some archaic scandal from decades ago and poke fun at the puritanical outrage of its time. Several recent issues — Justify My Love, 2 Live Crew, Pee Wee Herman, Milli Vanilli — have shown how history has a funny way of exposing moral sanctimony. Performative righteousness seldom ages well.
But now we finally have a case before us that isn’t so clear cut. 40 years ago today, CBS and ABC banned seven Calvin Klein commercials featuring a 15-year-old Brooke Shields in her best Lolita poses. Here is the most well known:
For those wary of hitting play, allow me to describe: The camera pans across the limbs of a teenage Brooke Shields in skin-tight jeans as she whistles “My Darling Clementine.” When her face finally appears, she looks at you, the viewer, and coquettishly asks, “Do you know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”
So what do you think? If a jeans company released that commercial today, what would happen? Would there be outrage? Or would no one care? I’ll put my guess in the comments.
By the way, the power of phony outrage to accrue attention still thrives today. This week saw righteous airhead Ben Shapiro draw attention by proclaiming that rock stars wearing dresses will crash western civilization. Oh the humanity.
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60 Years Ago Today: A drunken Norman Mailer stabbed his wife twice with a penknife.
400 Years Ago Today: The Mayflower reached Cape Cod and explored the coast.