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In Which the New York Times Defends Pedophiles
From the basic bitch perspective
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As most of my readers know, modern journalism is more about advocacy than about informing (as Matt Taibbi has so eloquently spoken about recently). As such, many articles twist themselves into logical pretzels to convince the reader what their perspective should be. It’s like activist inception. However, once in a while, something is published that is so surreal you can’t believe anyone could be dumb enough to fall for it. Today’s example comes from the New York Times.
I am sure some of you have been following the recent Balenciaga scandal around the brand’s sexualization of children and implicit support of kiddie porn in their advertisements. It is gross, end of story. But then again, maybe not end of story because here comes the NYT trying to convince their readers; well, maybe not only is it ACKTUALLLY not that big a deal, it’s a right-wing psy-op (you can find the article here). I don’t know who could be stupid enough to buy into this, but the NYT thinks some of their readers are.
So, I am going to try something a little different today. I will transform myself into two average NYT readers who could be convinced this is no big deal. So let me put on my lululemon, grab my pumpkin spiced latte, and sit down with my girlfriend in my favorite avocado toast place on the upper west side; here we go.
INT. - NEW YORK CITY SIDEWALK CAFE - DAY BFF's MADISON and ALEXIS sit at a table together, ignoring each other as they scroll through their phones. Madison pulls up a New York Times article someone in her Snap group posted.
Madison: Slander! I literally can’t even right now. Alexis, have you seen that QAnon and Fox News Nazis are attacking Balenciaga? I just literally can’t. First, they cancel Grey’s Anatomy, and now this. Nope, phone goes away. Hashtag “resist,” right? Just mentioning QAnon and Fox News is enough to make me feel like I’m sitting in a Walmart.
Alexis: Madi, remember our pledge. We said we were going to become more cultured this year, and what’s rule number one of culture?
Madison: (sighing) Read a news story’s first two paragraphs before passing judgment.
Alexis: That’s right. You can’t judge an article by the headline, and if the author buries the lede in, like, literally, paragraph four or five, well, that’s on them. I mean, they can’t expect us to have the patience of that guy who wore the rags in that smelly country. What’s his name?
Madison: Oh, Brad Pitt in Seven Years in Tibet.
Alexis: No, that’s not it. The guy who didn’t like war. His name started with a “G.” Oh yeah, Geraldo. That’s it.
Narrator: They were thinking of Gandhi.
Madison: I guess you’re right. A Geraldo, I’m not, but I suppose I’m ok with being late to our goat yoga class this one time. Let’s see…
Ever since Demna became artistic director of Balenciaga in 2015, the storied brand has become a lightning rod for controversy, often intentionally so. See: remaking IKEA’s 99-cent shopping bag as a luxury good, putting heels on Crocs, selling destroyed sneakers for $1,850, dressing Kim Kardashian in a head-to-toe black body stocking for the Met Gala, and sending models who looked like refugees down the runway carrying trash bags made of expensive leather.
The outrage provoked by such moments often seemed to be the whole point. Each only bolstered the reputation of Demna’s Balenciaga as a brand that forces consumers to grapple with the very meaning of “taste.”
Alexis: OMG. They’re right. Those high-heeled crocs were, literally, a crime against humanity. And I know all about that because I had great grandparents who died in the Holocaust.
Madison: Yeah, I don’t know why the children of the corn people in Iowa and Kansas are so obsessed with Demna. They’re just jealous they didn’t think to make a jumpsuit out of caution tape.
Now, however, the release of two new campaigns by Balenciaga, which is owned by Kering, the French luxury conglomerate that also owns brands like Gucci and Saint Laurent, has taken the public opprobrium to a new level. One campaign featured photos of children clutching handbags that look like teddy bears in bondage gear. Another campaign featured photos that include paperwork about child pornography laws. Together, they ignited a firestorm that traveled from the internet to Fox News, fueled by allegations that Balenciaga condoned child exploitation. The controversy has become one of the most explicit collisions of internet culture, politics, fashion and conspiracy theories to date.
Alexis: Gee, QAnon, Fox News, and now the sexualization of kids; where have I heard that before? I don’t know why these weirdos are so, literally, hung up on this. They’re such prigs…if a six-year-old is sexy and wants to strut her shit, you do you, girl!
Madison: Yeah, can these losers get over themselves with the conspiracy theories? First, the FBI was literally setting up Trump. As if the Russians didn’t change votes in 2016 to get him elected, which we all know they did because Dave Chapelle just told me on his Saturday Night Live monologue. Oh, you think Chapelle is wrong, you RACIST?
Then, they try to tell us that Hunter Biden was literally working for foreign governments while hiding payments to his dad through a joint bank account. Well, duh, who doesn’t have a joint bank account with their parents? You have to have a joint account until they’re dead, or at least in hospice, so you get all the money.
And now they try to tell us that the fashion industry has a bunch of literal sexual deviants in it? I might look like a dumb blonde, but it’s a dye job. Nice try.
On Nov. 28, almost two weeks after the storm started brewing — and after a series of Instagram apologies that failed to quell it — the brand issued a statement admitting “a series of grievous errors for which Balenciaga takes responsibility.” The fashion house announced ongoing “internal and external investigations” and “new controls” and said it was reaching out to “organizations who specialize in child protection and aim at ending child abuse and exploitation.”
“We want to learn from our mistakes and identify ways we can contribute,” the statement read.
Alexis: I mean, they wrote right in Insta that they are learning from their mistakes. What else do you want from them?
Madison: Learning from your mistakes is, like, a really mature thing to do. A few years ago, I wore white on a date with Brad, that investment banker I went out with for a hot minute, and we went to Sushi Noz on the upper east side. Well, of course, they literally didn’t roll the hand roll tight enough, and it spilled into my lap. Well, I learned my lesson, and now I never wear white when I go to Sushi. Did QAnon ever stop to think that maybe Balenciaga thought that putting kids in photos with BDSM bears and empty wine glasses was a good thing? I mean, that looks like the cutest drunken stooper I’ve ever seen. Give them a break.
Alexis: And you know how stupid Fucker Carlson is? See what I did there, Madi?
Madison: Oh, you’re naughty.
Alexis: I know. Sick burn. Anyway, him and a bunch of other internet trolls…
Madison: Ugh, I hate trolls. Their feet are in serious need of Mai Li’s pedicure magic.
Alexis: No, the assholes on the internet, like Elon Musk and Mel Gibson. Anyway, it says here that they thought the pictures with the kiddy BDSM and the pictures with the kiddie porn court decision were from the same photo shoot when they were two different shoots! I mean, that obviously proves Balenciaga didn’t mean anything nasty if they put kiddy exploitation messages in two different photo shoots. Case closed, as Judge Judy says.
Madison: It’s like when I told the cop who pulled me over after the Hamptons party…officer, this is my second time driving drunk; if I thought I was doing anything wrong, would I have done it twice? Thank you for serving and protecting. You can go now. Geesh.
The internet is full of trolls. Why did this controversy take off?
As online criticism of the campaigns spread, the story was picked up across right-leaning media outlets, including The New York Post and the prime time Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” The show has helped to publicize and mainstream QAnon, the internet conspiracy theory that “a group of Satan-worshiping elites who run a child sex ring are trying to control our politics and media.”
“Here you have a major international retail brand promoting kiddie porn and sex with children,” Mr. Carlson told viewers on Nov. 22, “and not promoting it subtly but right out in the open.”
Alexis: OMG. “Right-wing?” “New York Post?” “Tucker Carlson?” “QAnon?” Honestly, I’d rather direct a kiddie porn shoot than have anything to do with any of those FASCISTS!
Madison: One day, after my mom, picked me up from private school…
(Madison snorts laugh)
Not my mom, obvs, the housekeeper. Do you really think my mom picked me up after school? I’m not a poor?
Anyway, she once told me on a ski trip or something how to literally know if something you read in the newspaper is true or not. Do you know what she said? If the person who wrote the article went to Columbia journalism school, it is a 100% guarantee everything they write is true. So, that’s a little cheat for you. You’re welcome.
Alexis: Did the authors on the byline of this go to Columbia?
Madison: I’m sure they did. They use big words like “numerous” and “Bella Hadid.”
Alexis: Good point. And look, Balenciaga wrote, “We sincerely apologize for any offense our holiday campaign may have caused.”
I mean, what do you want from them? Their skinniest child? Their entire collection of energy crystals? Are you trying to fuck up their shakra, you monsters! They apologized; what else do these Nazis want. Leave Demna alone!
Madison: Right. It’s literally like when Ike Turner apologized for smacking the shit out of Tina. He wasn’t apologizing for knocking her teeth down her throat. Who cares about that? I mean, then you have an excuse to get veneers. What mattered was that he apologized for offending her.
Alexis: And the legal pages on the desk from the photo shoot, you know, the one that said the first amendment does not cover child porn, it was totally random that those were there.
Madison: Not only is that possible, it’s literally probable. The Supreme Court only wrote, like literally, 2,300 pages of opinions in 2021 alone. The odds of that page ending up in that photo is something like 50%, right?
Perhaps not surprisingly Ye, the artist previously known as Kanye West, and Ms. Kardashian, his former wife, have been drawn into the controversy; both have had longstanding relationships with Demna and Balenciaga.
Alexis: Hold on bitches, you leave Kim K out of this. Do what you want with Ye, but back off the Kardashians. They never get involved in political issues; why should they start now? I mean, Kim is literally a lawyer, so she’ll sue you, and you’ll go to jail for lying about her. Hope you like your stay at Rikers Island.
Madison: Yeah. It’s one thing to go after my $1,000 handbag; it’s another thing to go after the chick who put leaked porn tapes on fleek. My OnlyFans game would not be nearly as tight if I didn’t study the celebrity porn OG! I swear I’ve watched that tape in slow motion, like literally 75 million times. No joke.
Alexis: I’m so upset now; I need the goat yoga worse than when I found out J-Lo and A-Rod were breaking up.
Madison: Yeah, then let’s go to Balenciaga and show how much we hate Fox News by putting a new couture dress on my dad’s black card.