Laissez-Faire | In Love & Free Trade

The rich get richer, the poor become en vogue
September 3, 2008, 1:31 pm
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vogue india

Photo: NY Times


The NY Times featured an article this week about a photo shoot for Vogue India that uses the country’s poor as models for its luxury brands. 

Vogue India editor Priya Tanna’s message to critics of the August shoot: “Lighten up,” she said in a telephone interview. Vogue is about realizing the “power of fashion” she said, and the shoot was saying that “fashion is no longer a rich man’s privilege. Anyone can carry it off and make it look beautiful,” she said.

“You have to remember with fashion, you can’t take it that seriously,” Ms. Tanna said. “We weren’t trying to make a political statement or save the world,” she said.

Throwing a $3,000 shawl on a peasant woman who will never earn that much in a lifetime seems a bit unfair, no? As a papaya seller on the side of the road modeling a luxury umbrella for an ad, I’d be wondering, Where’s my cut? Actually, I’d probably be wondering if I could have half of the photographer’s sandwich, but moving on – to be an advertiser asserting that you’re democratizing fashion while neglecting the reality, the social contexts, surrounding the spread itself demonstrates poor taste if not sheer ignorance and exploitation – to say that fashion is for everyone, while stating that your publication is neither making a political statement nor helping the world is contradictory. Surely, a publication of Vogue’s caliber is not ignorant. More importantly, capitalism is not that ignorant. Or is it? Statements are made whether or not they’re intended; fashion at its core is a statement whether you wear nothing or couture.

There are ethics that extend beyond the prerogative of a high profile shoot, certain things that one simply does not do – impoverished citizens, making $1.25 a day, are not the same as struggling models paying their dues, people.

Trouble the Water is as good as people say

trouble the water

“Trouble the Water”, a documentary about survivors of Hurricane Katrina (and so much more), screened last night in Central Park in Harlem. The tag line reads: “It’s not about a hurricane. It’s about America”

The film’s endearing narrator reveals the other side of the headline broadcasts. “Trouble the Water” has won accolades from notable critics and was a Grand Jury Prize winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

The film opens at IFC on Aug. 22nd. You won’t be disappointed.

Official site. Also check out the soundtrack.

trouble the water

Journalism “Made to Order”
August 2, 2008, 12:24 am
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Russian journalist, Sergey Gorshkov, runs the site, a high-traffic political intersection. Mind you the site sometimes encounters “technical difficulties”, usually around Russia’s election season. Gorshkov accepts bribes from political figures running smear campaigns against their opponents. Though, by definition, he is the antithesis of objective journalism, Gorshkov defends his job as an “objective” conduit between the public and Russia’s corrupt government. For years, journalists have lost their lives trying to publish the truth. According to Wired, Gorshkov’s blog is the closest thing that Russia has to objective journalism, as a document of raw political activity – regardless of the reliability of his information.

Apparently Gorshkov charges around $600 to $800 per post, depending upon the salaciousness of the information. In so doing he’s perhaps earning more than textbook journalists in The Land of the Free.

Mexico is anything but boring
July 5, 2008, 3:58 am
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Mexican flag Photo: Esparata

Next to Iraq, Mexico is listed as the second most dangerous country for journalists, according to a story published in VICE.

The impunity rate for murders of members of the press over there is a reassuring 92 percent. Last year, men in a four-by-four pulled up outside Tabasco Hoy, a leading newspaper, and delivered the severed head of a local councillor in a cooler-box. – “Open Season on Journalists” by Bruno Bayley

Other dangerous locations for press: Somalia, the Phillipines, Colombia, Russia, Haiti, Iraq, the Middle East, and Africa. (BBC)

Also featured in VICE – for that off-the-beaten-path “tourist” destination:

The homemade porn industry

UFO and paranormal sightings

And of course, the US-Mexico Arms War (CN Portfolio)

Something to be said about rhetoric
July 4, 2008, 9:50 pm
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Photo: Getty Images

We all know Obama’s a great speaker. Some would even say speeches are the extent of his abilities. Yet a feature in New York’s Summer Issue (you know, the cover with McCain and Obama on the beach fist-bumping like the homies they are?) argues the significance behind Obama’s rhetorical strength. According to the article, the nation is run by words and deserves a leader who can formulate complex thought into articulate verse – which, if previous leaders (slash) contenders have demonstrated, ain’t easy.

“Raise High the Rafters” by Sam Anderson (New York Magazine)