For me, the best part about Vanity Fair is looking at the ads. All of the models seem so peculiar – done up in frivolous clothes, contorted into outlandish poses, made-up so as to look like circus clowns. I was astonished as I perused the September 2006 issue to find that poor Kate Moss appeared in at least six ads in the first 25 pages (by my count; I could have missed an appearance, due to the above-mentioned factors). Here they are: (1) the front cover; (2) a Calvin Klein ad on the inside front cover; (3) Dior; (4) Burberry; (5) David Yurman; and (6) Versace. The David Yurman ad (whoever he is) was particularly alluring; Miss Moss stretched out naked like she was at some soft-core porn photo shoot.
The reason why this is so interesting is that it only was recently that Miss Moss was condemned for alleged cocaine use. “The Daily Mirror today reveals shocking pictures of supermodel Kate Moss snorting a fat line of cocaine during a debauched drugs and drink session with junkie lover Pete Doherty,” Moyes, S., “Cocaine Kate,” Daily Mirror (Sep’t 15, 2005). This resulted in her losing all kinds of contracts, with companies such as H&M, Chanel, Burberry, etc. After performing the requisite acts of penance and contrition, and undergoing the requisite “rehab,” however, Miss Moss returned, evidently, bigger than ever. Companies like Virgin Mobile were eager to sign her up, possibly to trade on her newly-found notoriety; in less than a year, this has lead to the plethora of deals outlined above, plus more. Lawless, J., “Kate Moss Back in Business – Magazine Covers, New Contracts Prove Scandal and Rehab Didn’t End the Bad-Girl Model’s Career, Los Angeles Times (Dec. 9, 2005); Trebay, J., “Being Bad – the Career Move,” New York Times (Apr. 20, 2006). In fact, Burberry – one of the companies that dropped her – is one of the companies now advertising its wares on her back, in Vanity Fair! This must be particularly ironic for Miss Moss; come to think of it, she does have a sardonic twinkle in her eye, in that particular photo.
For me, the main take-away from this story is the increasing importance of what I’ll call “persona rights.” The new “media personality” isn’t just focused in one area of endeavor, like, say, music, or film. Rather, they are everywhere, all the time. The charming Paris Hilton is perhaps the best-known exponent of this genre; so are her compatriots Lindsay Lohan, Brittney Spears, Jessica Simpson, and the rest of that lot. But, the problem with being “everywhere, all the time,” is that things quickly get boring, particularly for the media, upon whom the persona intimately depends. Without the media, and publicity, the persona would be, like, in nowheresville! Therefore, the persona is required to be more and more outrageous – outrage for outrage’s sake, really – in order to retain media interest, and hence, publicity. This leads to all kinds of anomalous events (which is what “news” really comprises, isn’t it) – traffic crashes, drug arrests, dancing sans clothes on tables, and the like. It really is an astonishing set of relationships – “symbiotic,” if there ever could be a correct use of that term – fed by the public’s insatiable appetite for aberrant behavior; the narcissistic behavior of the persona; and the facilitating role of the media.
I say, good for her. I do think, however, she should ditch that loser boyfriend she has, with his stupid slacker band. She could take a couple of hints from someone like, say, Elizabeth Hurley, who at least had the good sense to become impregnated by a billionaire.