A blog of endless curiosity
“Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul.
Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.
She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock.
She was Lola in slacks.
She was Dolly at school.
She was Dolores on the dotted line.
But in my arms she was always Lolita. “
– Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, Part One, Ch. 1
The concept of Lolita gets used in just about everything these days – it’s an abiding book, and absolutely beautifully written. And it makes you feel like a dirty old man – even if you are a 20-something woman. What every ad that uses this concept is doing is telling the audience that if you dress/act/smell/eat this way, you will be obsessed to the point of mad obsession by much older, creepy, selfish, clinically disturbed men.
Today I ran past a bus shelter. And this is what I saw:
|Offended? Yeah, me too.|
Oh no, you’re not mistaken. That IS Dakota Fanning, the little, intelligent actor we watched grow up on our screens, now at my count about 17 or 18 years old. And yes, she’s holding an oversized perfume bottle which doesn’t take a large stretch of the imagination to look like a phalus and labia. I’m a fan of a ‘look I’m holding a breadstick in my crotch’ joke. I make them all the time. But this is aimed at a rather younger audience. And don’t be fooled by the name ‘Lola’ – it’s a very clear and direct reference to Lolita.
Bloody hell, and she looked such an intelligent child those few years ago.
I was thinking about the dulled, sleepy-eyed looks most women in magazines, particularly in fashion photography give. And that one of the few places in advertising that women are depicted as anything other than sex-objects or wallets on legs are in recruitment ads.
Take this one for example for Employment Agencies Melbourne:
The woman’s gaze is eye catching, determined and intelligent. Her body language is closed and indicates competitiveness. It’s not something we all aspire to, but it’s a different depiction of women. It would be nice if the ‘demure’ yet deeply sexualised image of females wasn’t so consistently bashed in your face like a limp fish – and it would be particularly helpful if young girls, whose understanding of the world and their role in it had more than one ideal to throw their caps at.
God knows if Marc Jacobs has ever read Lolita at all. If he has, he doesn’t understand a thing about the book. But if he’d read Tiger Tiger by Margaux Fragoso – a creative memoir which explores Lolita’s side of the Lolita effect, I’m almost certain he’d smash his own bus shelter ad, like I wanted to.