In Pursuit of Victimhood


It’s been a long time since I shouted at a 60 Minutes segment as much as I did last night. Their report on Abercrombie & Fitch was worthy of it though. Fortunately, with the miracle of TiVo you can shout at your TV then go back in time and watch what you cursed over as if it never happened in the first place.
The segment touched on Abercrombie & Fitch’s complicity in the whorification of America. Just like Britney and Christina have opted to sell albums using their pubic region, Abercrombie & Fitch has decided to sell pants using unclothed, apparently unparented adolescents lounging about in streams, fingering one another. It’s about as classy as Larry Flynt in a tuxedo.
That the company has made the decision to take their good name and significant history and tarnish it pandering to horny teens and pedophiles is a shame. It would be just as unfortunate if Tiffany & Co. decided to sell sterling dildos and dress the staff like Courtney Love. But, base marketing and name-tarnishing was not what the segment was about.
What was being called into question was how they hire people to sell their clothes. In particular, how they seem to prefer using pretty people to execute their All American Boy & Girl marketing plan. Another trauma some feel worthy of a class action suit. Amidst much boo-hoo-hoo-ing and quotes in the neighborhood of ‘This is not what America is about,’ the aggrieved parties, who were allegedly judged not pretty enough or not ‘All American’ enough by the retailer, want to force their accommodation. Sadly, that is what America is about. A few minutes perusing will remove any doubts.
There is no reason Abercrombie should be obliged to change their policies (dubbed ‘lookism’) to accommodate people who don’t fit in their plan any more than racially polarized networks like UPN should be forced to have more Asian-themed shows. FUBU is a black clothing line, and as such there should not be controversy over the lack of Cherokee Indians on the payroll. It’s doubtful Katz’s Deli has a wealth of Pentecostal Christians in the management hierarchy.
Individual companies pursuing their own business plans with their own idea of what is good for their business should be, and were for a long time, left alone. One could spend a lifetime pitching shows to Lifetime, but we all know full well that unless it’s about an abused woman gathering the strength to fight back, the execs won’t be interested. What’s disturbing is how easily you could find a lawyer willing to sue them for discriminating against Battlebots.
Litigation has taken the place of common sense. Once you could have suggested seven foot tall guys were among the better basketball players. Now you run the risk of being called heightist by the vertically challenged. Even worse, if you were a four foot tall blind kid with a club foot who wanted to play on the varsity team, there are lawyers who would take your call. For some legal professionals, no cross is too cumbersome to bear.
There is a wonderful story of a businessman denied membership at a posh golf club because he was Jewish. He did not launch a class action on behalf of chosen people not being chosen. Instead, he raised a ton of money and opened a club across the street. Touche. That is what America should be about. Instead, it’s about ludicrous organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance demanding free airplane seats and wholesale accommodation of gluttony.
Trial lawyers, scourge of many things decent, have fought long and hard to grant us the Freedom To Litigate Everything That Bothers Us. They’ve created such a sense of entitlement that everyone is undoubtedly a victim of something. We’ve all been wronged. It’s why I’m not what Abercrombie is looking for has turned in to I had better be what Abercrombie is looking for.
When a telemarketer who lacked several teeth was laid off because people could not understand what he was saying he didn’t look for a new job, he looked for a lawyer. People no longer play the cards they’re dealt. They instead ask that the cards be reshuffled and re-dealt. If that doesn’t work out, they ask for a new deck. If that doesn’t work, they sue the casino. Alarm bells should have sounded when illegal immigrants started suing for the right to drive. How far is too far? Can someone let the rest of us know?
It’s high time the trial lawyers suffered some setbacks to their unabashed greed and cynical shortsightedness so that we can all go back to the Freedom To Deal With It. Just because some of us lost our moms doesn’t mean we should strike Mother’s Day from the calendar.
We have the freedom to do many things, but forcing others to accommodate what some of us perceive as wrong is not one of them. With alarming frequency and diminishing irony Americans invoke what they feel to be their freedoms, rights and entitlements in an effort to deny the same to others.
From private golf clubs that only want male members to clothing stores that only want a certain look, perhaps it’s time to realize that not everything is a battle that needs to be fought, much less won. I know that as a man I will never wait tables at Hooters. I know I’m too tall to be an astronaut. I know that I can not walk in to Nobu and be seated immediately because I’m not famous. Most of us know these things are not cause for grief, much less litigation, no matter how many lawyers are cheering us on. Perhaps we should tell the others.