Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Dutch Tough

Advertising is the true story of any age.

As odious as it may be, an ad is the essence of every story, myth, fact, aspiration, and definition available at it's creation.

The ad at left is from a 1978 issue of Playboy magazine. It's on page 54.

Now, the first 53 pages of the magazine are equally full of similar messages (the leather looking man, the bored looking woman), but this one about pipe tobacco stood out in particular.

First, of all the bored women that appear in these ads, the woman in the second photo looks challengingly bored. The male model looks like someone slapped a wig and makeup on an old jacket and gave it sexually criminal sentience.


Because, second of all, what the hell is going on in the first image? A.k.a. The one where the possibly same models are in Dutch colonist cosplay.

And as a subsection of the second part, why Dutch colonists? In an American magazine? For pipe tobacco? In 1978?

What the all around fuck?

Amphora, the tobacco company, is still in production. And there are people with YouTube videos about it. So good on them for longevity. But a surprising number of Playboy advertisers from the same issue include similarly long lasting companies like Gillette, Chrysler, Cuervo Gold.

Turns out though that Amphora may no longer be available in the United States.


But with the name free, a company called Evofem Inc. created a personal lubricant called Amphora in 2004.

But the pipe tobacco Amphora brand is owned by Imperial Tobacco Group plc, a HUGE company based in Bristol (of all places).

So why of all things was the image of Dutch colonialism was being marketed to Americans in 1978 via their pipe tobacco?

Most of the other tobacco ads are for cigarettes, and they are primarily concerned about tar.

There is also one ad that appears like a proto-feminists appeal to the kind of lesbian smokers who might read Playboy in the late 70s.

But it's hard to draw any conclusions, because there are no real comparisons in the book to either other pipe tobacco ads, or specifically Dutch colonial imagery.

So, going back a few years to see what else might be in the advertising might prove fruitful, about a decade earlier.

To June of 1968.

Because, the logic is, if this use of Dutch colonial imagery to sell pipe tobacco in a semi-dirty late 1970s men's magazine means what it looks like it means, then that is pretty fucked up.

***

Looking into magazine archives from time periods is more rewarding than any other kind of garbage diving.

Once upon a time, with full access to the archives of Newsweek magazine, many hours of upload waits or downtime were filled with trips through old magazines from the 1930s, 1980s, 1960s.

Having said that, now that the ability to digitize old collections is a reality, everyone needs to make it a priority to save and reproduce all media.

Far too many things get left behind when the media changes.

***

An early summer 1968 magazine is such a strange piece of history.

Only two months after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (but really a month to a month and a half in magazine production time) and already on the newsstand when Robert Kennedy is assassinated in California.



The very first ad is for gin, the second, malt liquor. Like the old saying goes, gin before malt liquor gets you fucked up quicker.

The smoking ads however have neither pipe tobacco or Dutch colonial imagery. They do however have weird father imagery and a hopeful focus on innovation and modernity.

Time to go back another decade.

***

On the very first page of the June 1958 Playboy magazine, there is an ad with loosely connected Dutch Colonial imagery.

The ad shows a man in a tuxedo holding a large parrot, surrounded by palm trees and two women, who are dressed in vaguely non-specific Pacific Island dress. It's not Dutch, but it's got Colonial written all over it. And the Dutch did have large colonies stretching all the way from the tip of Sumatra to New Guinea.

The ad even features a little Venus on the half shell with one of the two women decorating the James Bond/Don Draper original.

An interesting aside, the adjusted for inflation price of the After Six wash-and-wear jacket is $328.08.

The rest of the mag features no real Dutch Colonial imagery, or pipe tobacco ads, which is surprising. The Dutch Colonial theme is specific to the late 70s for reasons that will possibly become clear.

What is interesting about the late 50s Playboy compared to the 60s and 70s is that there is a lot more advertorial content in the 50s. With whole articles about cameras (conveniently for sale at low, low prices) in between pictorials of the the 1950s version of the girl next door and liquor ads. It's almost as if Playboy were a training manual for something.

Then there are other less disturbing things advertised like a one foot tall model of a human skeleton for only $2.98. With removable parts!

So once again, a whole issue of Playboy and no Dutch Colonial ads.

Lessons were learned, like "there are a surprising number of cigar ads with dads lighting up around their children", but for now it's back to 1978.

***

In 1978, the Dutch Colonial empire was in its final stages. Although Dutch Colonialism continues as the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the administration of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, and other stolen lands; in 1978, refugees from former Dutch colonies moved to the Netherlands in waves. The migrants came both for jobs that would supply cheap labor to their former colonizers, but also to escape the political unrest left in the wake of their home countries' independence. Feeling underappreciated for heroically driving the Japanese military out of countries they had stolen fair and square, the scorned Dutch settlers stymied nascent democratic movements in the global South by force at first, and then economic domination (some of which continues to this day).

The US Northeast maintains a tenuous relationship with Dutch Colonialism in that it often gets mixed up with English colonialism in national myth, especially since their areas of colonization overlap in like New York and other foundational strongholds of European colonialism in North America.

Also, important places and figures in Dutch colonization share nomenclature with the Imperial Tobacco Group product line or brands purchased by Imperial Tobacco such as it's predecessor Commonwealth Brands, Inc. (formerly the Commonwealth Tobacco Company).

The infamous cigarette smoking baby on the internet that the Western world fetishized? From the former Dutch colony of Indonesia.

See, the Playboy magazines didn't have any Amphora ads, but newspapers and other sources do. Going back ten years in newspaper searches show Amphora advertising that employs certainly less cosplayish imagery. 1960s Amphora ads in general newspapers stress availability and price.

It would have been much harder to romanticize Dutch colonialism in the 1960s. The brutal repression of the Indonesian independence movement was still ongoing at the start of the decade.

In addition, this was a British-ish company marketing to an American audience, and unless the ad was specifically targeted to Northeast subcribers, it seems like a very narrow demographic that might find 17th century Dutch colonial cosplay enticing, but then again so is pipe smoking.

Plus, if there is a hetero woman alive that has ever had unpaid, non-coercive sex with a man who is actively smoking a pipe, she was a whaling shipman's wife in 1840s Nantucket, or, as the ad implies, the bonnet wearing wife of a European colonist somewhere in the Dutch empire circa 1500 - 1700.

What the image does recall today, however, is a million old men in a million old movies, about a woman protected only by her own boredom from a man who finds appealing the idea of taking things that don't belong to him. This is definitely a recurring theme in all those old Playboy. Not just the idea of women as for sale, because most of the things for sale are products like liquor, tobacco, and tobaccinated liquor. With a model or two promised by mere association with the product and the fine print that reads "woman not included."

***

Skipping ahead ten years, the difference is incredible, particularly as it comes to Tobacco advertising, which is still mostly allowed in the June 1988 issue of Playboy magazine, but is thoroughly in the grips of the Marlboro man.

There are also ads for Kools, Kents, Camels, Merit Ultra-Lights, Salems, and Winstons, all of which employ some working/middle class white guy at leisure. The Salem ad is a nude woman, her face and body out of frame, melting a cigarette pack sized block of ice on her neck with the brand logo frozen inside. The Marlboro ad which has not only seized on the colonial imagery, in this case the Cowboy "taming" the wild west (which in the 1980s meant horses for some reason).

The Marlboro Man as a concept had only a decade left in use by the Philip Morris company when they ran this ad in Playboy.

Cigarette ads like these were on their last legs.

Much like pipe tobacco in the 1970s. In a 2005 Washington Post report by Peter Carlson, head of the Pipe Tobacco Council, Norman Sharp, said "In 1970, Americans bought 52 million pounds of pipe tobacco. In 2004, they bought less than 5 million pounds."

5 million pounds of pipe tobacco may still be more than you can carry at a full sprint, but it's definitely not "advertise in Playboy" money.

But what does a creepy ad about the kind of pipe tobacco rooted in the Dutch colonial tradition have to do with a fictional advertising cowboy?

Philip Morris is the largest tobacco company in the world. Imperial Tobacco Group, Inc. is number four. In between are British American Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International.

Japan Tobacco, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, and Imperial Tobacco Group all started within ten years of each other in the waning years of the 19th century, and the earliest days of the 20th (Although, technically, Japan Tobacco spun off from a government monopoly on tobacco production and an independent company formed from the Asia Pacific division of RJ Reynolds, now a subdivision of British American, in the 90s -- coincidentally around the same time the Marlboro man was retired).

All of this built on a crop stolen from the colonized people of South America, built into a global industry on the backs of slaves, and sustained to the present day on the profits of a destructive and unhealthy activity.

And when it comes to accessing that past for the purposes of brand identity, these companies have been reliably happy to do so (albeit less so at times when it is politically expedient to minimize the systems' worst abuses). But when it comes to making amends for the health damages its products cause, compensating all that stolen labor, and paying off the debt owed to the indigenous developers of the product; all that history don't count for shit.

Also, old Playboys are fucking creepy.


Check out more Vintage Advertising here.

Some Thoughts on Elizabethtown, Kentucky and Gynnya McMillen

The recent news (or lack thereof) about the  prompts context.

Initial news reports about the death of 16-year-old Gynnya McMillen in Elizabethtown, Kentucky provided little detail, even neglecting to name the victim. A Facebook page was set up calling for an inquiry and more information. The family has spoken out on the page, criticizing both the authorities under whose watch McMillen died and the press that has provided little coverage of the story:

I'm asking that everyone repost and share my sisters story on your pages and in any groups that will help us get it out...
Posted by Justice For Gynnya McMillen on Friday, January 15, 2016
The lack of media attention means that most of the information about the case, and calls for more attention, are addressed on blogs and via individual users on social media:


A Twitter profile with a name matching Gynnya McMillen has only one tweet. It's from November 29th, 2013:

The official address for Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center is 820 New Glendale Rd, which on Google Maps is an empty field.



From the Elizabethtown page at JailExchange.com:
The Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown, Lincoln County, Kentucky, like all jails is a maximum security facility. Because the inmates in this jail range from low level offenders to those being held for violent crimes like robbery, rape and murder, the security level is as high as is it is in any maximum security state prison. Some of the security features in this facility include security cameras, electronic detection and reinforced fencing topped with razor wire. Correctional officers in Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center are armed with mace and trained to use physical force to protect themselves and other inmates from violence. 
The men, women and juveniles being held in the Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center are either awaiting trial or have been sentenced in the Lincoln County Court System already and been sentenced to a period of time of one year or less. When an inmate is sentenced to a year or more, they are admitted into the Kentucky Prison or Federal Prison System. Inmates in the Lincoln Village Regional Juvenile Detention Center are fed three meals a day totaling 2,500 calories, are allowed access to phones to contact friends and family members, are allowed at least one hour a day for exercise, have access to books, bathroom and shower facilities. The inmates are allowed mail to be delivered to them as well as newspapers and magazine from trusted outside publishers. 
But the youth detention center is not the only carceral institution in the nearby area.

Just down the road is the Hardin County Detention Center. Which has a website you can check out here.




The Hardin County Detention Center provides an odd amount of information on its website: from a complete searchable database of all their inmates by full name and incarceration date, to pages of rules about communication, and the ability to make purchases from the prison commissary.

There is even a page with a short bio of the "warden" or "jailer" as the site refers to the administrator:
Danny Allen is a lifelong resident of Hardin County.  Jailer Allen started working for the county government as a Deputy Sheriff in 1985, and 1988 as the assistant supervisor for the Hardin County Road Department.  In 2001 Jailer Allen was moved to the supervisor position for the road department of Hardin County. Danny Allen was elected and took office of Jailer January 1, 2011.  Jailer Allen has also served (6) years on the Hardin County School Board and was also Fire Chief for # 86 Volunteer Fire Department.
Amid all this information, is a page about prison visitation. At the Hardin County Detention Center, prisoners do not interact with their visitors directly. Instead:

INMATES will visit with friends and family from a video visitation terminal in their housing unit.
VISITORS will use a similar video visitation terminal in the jail’s visitation area.
So prisoners just two miles away from where a teenager died in state custody at a maximum security facility, inmates are denied the basic right of being able to sit in the physical presence of their loved ones.

These visits are limited to two twenty minute sessions per inmate, per week.

Because the video system is remotely accessible, parties can connect to prisoners over the internet. Presumably these count toward the visitor limit each prisoner has. The sessions cost $12.99 each.

Lincoln Juvenile has a much lower internet presence (although their phone number is listed at yellowpages.com (270) 766-5280). They are or were hiring a nurse. On the page describing the job, the following is given as a typical day:

A typical day starts with receiving a briefing from the Youth Worker Supervisor concerning any youth movements in/out of the facility and any current medical needs of the youth. Counting controlled medications and passing medications. Assessing youth with medical complaints. Health and history screenings for any youths who are admitted to the facility. Obtaining physician orders required for medications or treatments for the youth. Providing updates to the Nurse Shift/Program Supervisor about youth needs or concerns.
The do have a Google website. It is minimally populated with content, but it gives the same address as the one Google shows. The site also has a list of staff and a mission statement of sorts:
The Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice (KY DJJ) Program Services Division currently monitors all of Kentucky's juvenile holding facilities and secure juvenile detention facilities for compliance with state and federal mandates. KY DJJ also operates eight secure juvenile detention centers. Kentucky's juvenile detention system provides pre-trial detention of all alleged delinquent juveniles and ensures state-operated detention centers to be available for all counties.The Detention Centers provide programs with a wide range of services including: education, counseling, acute medical and mental health care, behavior management, observation and assessment, as well as continuous supervision.
According to one report about McMillen's death on kentucky.com said that hers is the first juvenile death in custody since 1999. The same report says an autopsy was scheduled for last Monday.

The most in-depth report on the case comes from Anna Taylor at TheNewsEnterprise.com which lists, among other details:

  • McMillen had "only been at the facility about 24 hours"
  • She was brought to Lincoln "following a Sunday morning altercation with a parent at a Shelbyville residence"
  • Kelly Cable, spokesman for the Shelbyville Police De­partment, said a domestic violence call came in at 1:46 a.m. “The child was the perpetrator in the incident and the parent did receive minor injuries,” he said. “We contacted the court-designated worker. The juvenile was transported to Lincoln Village on a charge of assault fourth-degree – domestic violence with minor injury.”
  • Gynnya was "found unresponsive at 10 a.m. in her cell and was pronounced dead at the detention center"

Despite the extra details Taylor's story, most of them come from officials at the prison and the local police. Little is know about how she was taken into custody or the name/names of the responding officers.

Gynnya McMillen.

Say her name.

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