We’re trying something new at Hathor starting this week: having a short post on Mondays with some kind of media, a transcript of it, and an invitation to discuss. Conveniently enough for me, reader ACW sent us a link to a video promoting Target’s upcoming Jean Paul Gaultier clothing line just in time for me to watch it over and over and over for transcription purposes. The video is on the Target website, and can be reached by following this link and clicking the text that says “looks >”.
For those who can not or prefer not to view the video, a fairly comprehensive transcript/summary follows:
The video begins with some upbeat music in a sort of mainstream techno style. Over a black screen, white letters appear spelling out “Which Muse Are You?”
The screen fills with small black-and-white snapshots of models wearing the clothing being advertised. One image moves toward the viewer and expands. Text appears to the side saying “[muse #1] / Punk / [you are] / provocative / feisty / impulsive”.
The image shifts to a color view of the model in the photo in a white room as lyrics are sung over the music. A female voice sings the words “don’t need a dance floor” and the model begins to dance. She is a young, slender, white woman with short, blonde hair. She is dressed in patterned tights, black boots, a black miniskirt and top, and a leather jacket. She is smiling and posing for the camera. She continues to dance, moving to the music and kicking her feet. The lyrics are “I’m gonna dance.”
The camera closes in on the model’s face briefly, and there are some transition effects before she walks off screen in the first outfit and back on in a second. Now she wears gray tights, black boots, a black miniskirt and vest, and a white t-shirt with a screen-printed design of a stylized woman’s face. The lips are red sequins. She dances and poses again as the camera focuses alternately on her entire body, her face, and specific details of the outfit.
The video returns to the screen full of black-and-white snapshots, and another is pulled out of the group and enlarged. The text this time reads “[muse #2] / Holly / wood / Glam / [you are] / glamorous / sophisticated / breathtaking”.
Now the screen shows a young, slender woman with light brown skin and long, loose dark hair (I didn’t read her as white, but I think it wouldn’t be difficult to do so) wearing a yellow sundress and black, high-heeled sandals. The lyrics “I’m gonna dance” play again as this model begins to move to the music. Her dancing style is less aggressive than the first model’s. She soon walks off screen and then back on, now wearing a fitted black dress with a blue bodice and another pair of high-heeled sandals. The singer’s voice says “dance” as the model poses in this second outfit.
The video goes back to the black-and-white photos. The highlighted photo this time is accompanied by text reading “[muse #3] / Ingénue / [you are] / innocent / coy / charming”. Once again the camera shows a young, slender white woman. Her light brown, long hair is pulled back. She wears a black miniskirt and pinstriped blazer, a white blouse, white knee-socks, and black and white sneakers.
The lyrics “I’m gonna dance” play as she starts to move. Transition effects show multiple versions of the same young woman as the camera changes focus. She chews bubble gum, twirls her hair, and blows a bubble. She walks off screen and then on in a new outfit, this time a black skirt, white spaghetti-strap top, and dark, multi-colored cardigan which a white stripe. Her hair is braided. She wears the same shoes and socks.
The camera pans back and we can see the model’s entire body. What appear to be white pocket liners, or perhaps the tails of her shirt, are just visible beneath the edge of her miniskirt. Her dancing is accompanied by indistinct lyrics. (I thought I heard “give me the what / give me the you”.)
The screen returns to the black-and-white portraits. The text accompanying a portrait now is “[muse #4] / Hip / Hop / [you are] / confident / artistic / lyrical”. The singer repeats the word “you” in different tones as a young, slender, Black woman appears in the white room. She wears a tan trench-coat, black leggings, black boots, and a black leather ball-cap. She dances, showing the camera the jewelry around her neck, to the lyrics “don’t need a dance floor”.
The lyrics “I’m gonna dance” play, and the model moves toward the camera out of view, then reappears in a different outfit. Now she wears colored tights, brown boots, a black miniskirt, a short-sleeved brown leather jacket with patterned long sleeves underneath, and a gray cap. The lyric “dance” is repeated several times as she moves.
Again, the screen returns to the black-and-white portraits. The text beside the enlarged portrait this time is “[muse #5] / Rock / ‘n’ Roll / [you are] / rebellious / electric / thrill-seeking”. The model is a slender, young, white woman with blonde hair pulled into a french twist. She wears black, high-heeled ankle boots, semi-sheer calf-length leggings, a black miniskirt, and a black-and-white striped tank top. The lyric “you” is repeated several times as she dances and poses for the camera. This model does not have a second outfit.
The screen returns to the black-and-white portraits, but this time the large portrait is of a man, identified by text nearby as Jean Paul Gaultier. He is shown in black-and-white behind a camera, filming the first model and giving instruction. He approaches her and adjusts her hairstyle. She embraces him and he lifts her off the ground as they turn in a circle. The indistinct lyrics from before repeat. (Give me the something give me the something else? I am still clueless.) The ad closes with a final image of the black-and-white photos.
So much for the media! Now on to the discussion.
On the bright side, this ad shows these young models being happy and energetic in their clothes. They don’t look like they’re drugged, or, you know, dead. Not that I have anything against that advertising trend. *cough* And though seeing anything actually marketed as “punk” always makes me flinch, the outfits that have been put together are interesting and, for the most part, fairly different from one another even when they share certain pieces in common, allowing for some individuality.
Less positive, in my mind, is seeing that apparently no matter what “muse” you are, chances are good that you’re still going to end up wearing a black miniskirt at some point. Also, you must be young and very thin. And preferably white. And, as ACW said when she sent us the link, “will someone *please* give a black woman a spot in an ad without designating her style as ‘hip-hop’ or ‘urban’?”
Also, who is this ad aimed at? I find the “Rock ‘n’ Roll” outfit’s clear callbacks to Madonna’s early look really fun and entertainingly nostalgic (and also entertaining because Gaultier was, of course, one of the people who designed Madonna’s look), but I am preeeetty sure that people in my age group are not actually the target market for these clothes, which seem to be designed for the “juniors” department (aka, teenagers).
But there’s plenty beyond those things to discuss and unpack here. What do you think? What do you like? What do you hate? And how does this ad compare to similar media?