Friday, August 24, 2012

Underpants, celebrities and gibberish

click photo to enlarge
I had intended to write a piece on an aspect of castle architecture today, a subject that I was going to illustrate with this photograph of a spiral staircase at Castle Rising, Norfolk. However, as I read "The Guardian" newspaper over my breakfast of a bowl of porridge and a cup of tea I saw a full-page photograph that made me laugh out loud. Now, "The Guardian" is a serious newspaper, and though it often has articles of a deliberately humorous nature that do provoke such a reaction, and whilst it sometimes publishes pictures with the same intention, it doesn't often raise a titter elsewhere in its pages.

What I'd come upon to cause  my merriment was an advertisement featuring a black and white photograph of David Beckham in his underpants (sorry "boxer briefs") and nothing else. When I say nothing else, parts of his hands, arms and torso were obscured by tattoos drawn in a style that could charitably be called naïve. And his head, of course, currently hides behind a bouffant quiff and a Three Musketeers-style beard and moustache, the latest in a long line of hairdos that seem designed to periodically refresh his image. But, apart from the underpants (sorry "boxer briefs"), tattoos and facial hair, he was revealed as nature intended. Actually, that's not quite true either. His face wore what I can only describe as a scowl-cum-frown. That was one of the causes of my laughter and it surprised me because he usually flashes a happy-chappie smile. Perhaps, I thought, he's been taking lessons in scowling from his wife, Victoria, a woman whose default public face, it has been widely observed, looks decidedly unhappy. On reflection I thought that it was probably a requirement of the company whose underpants (sorry "boxer briefs") he was advertising. I think, for reasons best known to themselves, they wanted him to look "hard". That would also account for the simian arm positions - slightly away from the body - making him look like he's ready for a scrap.

Now, I can't claim any deep knowledge of fashion, men's undergarments, celebrity culture or advertising. But I can recognise gibberish when I see it in print (I should, I write enough). However, the advertising slogan "David Beckham, Bodywear" struck me as ludicrous. Bodywear? What sort of word is that? Where else does one put underpants (sorry "boxer briefs) except on your body. And, assuming that this is the exposed tip of a merchandising iceberg, does "bodywear" differ in the slightest scintilla from "clothes"? But then perhaps I'm being too critical. Maybe I'm ill-informed or simply not part of the target demographic. Surely it was enough that an advertiser and their hired celebrity had given me a moment of levity first thing in the morning. I should be thankful for that and forget the rest. But the fact is, I can't. More specifically I worry about anyone who, on looking at this advertisement, thinks, "Mmmm, if those underpants (sorry "boxer briefs") are good enough for David Beckham they're good enough for me" and rushes out to buy some. Such people surely don't exist. Do they?

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 17mm
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/8
ISO: 3200
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33 EV
Image Stabilisation: N/A