It has undoubtedly happened plenty in our cultural past where a celebrity or two has courted controversy when wearing some latex wardrobe, a PVC outfit, or a sexy leather accessory. But so many years into the wide-reaching influence of pop couture, video, and naughty posted images, one would think we might have seen it all. Or at least have become immured to striking sartorial slips and salacious images. Such was not the case for Demi Lovato most recently.
To be fair, it is less the clothes the thirty-year-old singer wore on the cover of her most recent album and posters for the same. But more the fact that the album, released this past August, was titled Holy FVK and bore an “image of Ms. Lovato bound up in a bondage-style outfit whilst lying on a mattress shaped like a crucifix” posed “in a position with her legs bound to one side which was reminiscent of Christ on the cross.”
The above quotes were taken from Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority which launched an investigation into the posters for Lovato’s eighth album that appeared in six places in London back in August. Four days passed before those posters were taken down, and now the ruling has come down from the ASA that presently bans those posters.
The UK Code for “for non-broadcast advertising” states that ads must be rendered with a “sense of responsibility” and not contain anything that might cause serious or widespread offense. One could argue as much that an objective definition of lots of terms in these quotes could be as hard to define as if indeed Lovato bound with black straps around her ankles, thighs, and arms as she wears a black seemingly leather bodysuit, posing on a stained cross-shaped mattress is much more than the young woman attempting to be provocative or make a statement about the songs she was presenting in this collection.
Lovato indeed toured on the album, it sold well, and she even opened a store for product from it (see here) as any smart young diva should. It was business as usual.
But ASA’s recent ruling was to answer complaints that “challenged whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offense” or “irresponsibly placed,” mostly where children could see it. The final ruling was that Lovato’s posters breached the code and “must not appear again in the form complained of unless it was suitably targeted.”
And, once again, in the way literature/music/art/fashion has courted controversy through the years…this ASA ruling is, very much…business as usual.