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Misogynistic Johnny Farah Ad "Worst of the Year"?

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Johnny Farah ad, via Buzzfeed/<a href="http://ritakml.info/2013/06/18/johnny-farah-calls-this-advertising/">ritakml.info</a>
Johnny Farah ad, via Buzzfeed/ritakml.info

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Why does everyone want to strangle women this week?

Yesterday, middle-aged hipster magazine Vice ended up with a scandal on its hands after a fashion editorial featuring female models re-enacting the various suicides of famous women authors incited hundreds of critical comments. The magazine took down the editorial and offered up what Jezebel's Jenna Sauers called a "weak-ass fauxpology." It reads as follows:

"Last Words" is a fashion spread featuring models reenacting the suicides of female authors who tragically ended their own lives. It is part of our 2013 Fiction Issue (http://www.vice.com/magazine/20/6), one that is entirely dedicated to female writers, photographers, illustrators, painters, and other contributors.

The fashion spreads in VICE magazine are always unconventional and approached with an art editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one. Our main goal is to create artful images, with the fashion message following, rather than leading.

"Last Words" was created in this tradition and focused on the demise of a set of writers whose lives we very much wish weren't cut tragically short, especially at their own hands. We will no longer display "Last Words" on our website and apologize to anyone who was hurt or offended.

—The Editors

Refinery29 took screengrabs of the spread—you can see them here.

And now, in similarly disturbing news, Buzzfeed has posted on what they're calling the most offensive ad of the year. It is "celebrating" a collaboration between leather accessories maker Johnny Farah and photographer Joe Kesrouani at Farah's Dubai store and features a man simultaneously pushing a woman forward with his hand while yanking her backwards by the neck and choking her with a leather belt. The woman has a leather bag over her head.

Here's some background information on Farah, per his website:

Living and working in Beirut where his creativity runs to owning an organic farm and two restaurants, Johnny's JF stores first appeared in Beirut in the 70's. Today he owns JF stores in Beirut, New York and Dubai in addition to his concept store in Lebanon's capital. From 1990 – 1994 he launched and developed Donna Karan and Donna Karan men lines of handbags and belts. The label is sold worldwide with retailers across Europe, the Middle East and USA, Asia and online.

Beruit Drive-By—the blog that originally posted on the ad—emailed Farah for comment. Here is his response:

Thank you for getting in touch with me to clear this up. I am aware and have just sent an apology email. The photograph is not an ad but was taken as part of a photography event where the people in the picture were able to choose their own poses. When you see the photo in context with the other pictures next Friday June the 28th, you will see that it is part of an art exhibition and not an advertising campaign. We did not mean to cause any offence and apologize to anyone who was insulted. I have changed the event picture.—The Johnny Farah Team

Like Vice, Farah is using the "it's just art" argument. But as Beruit Drive-by points, out, "When you use an image to get your [brand] message across, it is a form of advertising whether it's part of an official campaign or just a plain invitation to a photography exhibition."
· The Most Offensive Fashion Ad Of The Year Comes From Beirut [Buzzfeed]
· Vice Quietly Deletes That Suicide Fashion Spread [Jezebel]