Shakespeare, Victoria Secret and the Corruption of Neo-liberal Capitalism

…she that sets seeds and roots of shame and iniquity, pericles“…she that sets seeds and roots of shame and iniquity”

(Pericles, act 4, sc. 6)

Comment. The appellation, let alone the profession of moralist is historically suspect. Who has the qualifications or the right to dictate moral canons to others? For this reason morality is inevitably intertwined with theological opinions – opinions that, supposedly coming from ‘God’, are beyond questioning.

Even so, moral-theological opinions cannot easily be preserved without the artificial help of priests, temples and sacred texts. Disregarding that often religious moralists censure with asperity what they practice with impunity.

However, one equally historical criterion of behavior that outperforms morality is good taste, or, more studiously defined, aesthetics. Botticelli’s “Primavera” was as beautiful 600 years ago as it is today. And most of us (we like to think) do not steal not through godly imposition or fear of the law, but for (often unconscious) reasons of  good taste.

Therefore the reference in this article to the Shakespearean ‘shame’ and ‘iniquity’ of the quote has little to do with morality and much with good taste.

Victoria’s Secret, multinational giant of the prurient sex business, is launching a line of underwear and bras aimed at junior high-school children (approximately 15 year old or younger). The line is to be called “Bright Young Things” and will feature ”lace black cheeksters” with the word “Wild” emblazoned on them, green and white “polka-dot hipsters” screen-printed with “Feeling Lucky?” and a “lace-trim thong” with the words, “Call me” on the front.”

Some lexical clarification for our international visitors.  ‘Cheeksters’ (also called ‘Cheekies’) is a trademarked underwear from Victoria’s Secret, meaning underpants leaving most of the buttocks un-panted.

‘Hipsters’ refers to a style of underwear defined as  ‘stylish’ and ‘functional’. Sitting on the hips but below the waistline, it incorporates “design elements of different types of panties”. Area coverage varies and, in the quoted marketing lingo of the age, hipsters make “personal preference and selection an important part of the shopping experience” – no doubt to the edification of the 50 million Americans or so on food stamps.

Finally, a ‘thong’ was originally a narrow strip of leather used as fastening or as the lash of a whip. The idea of ‘narrowness’ was implied when the term was used to re-baptise a garment generally worn as either underwear or as a swimsuit (where the ‘either’ and the ‘or’ suggest essential identity).

As for the ‘lace-trim thong panty’ – the sales-text claims – it is “virtually invisible under clothes, with supersoft and stretchy cotton for wear-all-day comfort and natural sexiness. In lots of colors and pretty prints, our cotton undies ensure your lingerie drawer is anything but ordinary.” Presumably the ‘lace-trim thong panty’ doubles as a swimsuit (see previous paragraph) to justify the advertised inscription.

To sell, propose or promote sex to children is a psychiatric illness called – unless mistaken – pedophilia, an idea that, apart from any other consideration, goes against the grain of basic good taste – as earlier mentioned. It is power exercised over a powerless creature, a concept of stenchful sickness to anyone who spends 5 seconds to think about it.

But thanks to the eleven commandment, “Anything for a Buck” even good taste ends up, both metaphorically and physically, down the toilet. Which is where, frankly, I would like ‘Victoria’s Secret’ to conclude its journey.

In the play. Lysimachus, governor of Mytilene refers to the matron of the brothel where the spotless Marina has been sold by kidnapping pirates.

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