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Slavoj Zizek Shills for Abercrombie & Fitch

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"The Examined Life: Enjoy Your Chinos!"

Joshua Glenn, 7/6/2003, Boston Globe


A few weeks ago, the trendy youth retailer Abercrombie & Fitch was slapped with a lawsuit alleging that the company discriminates against minority ''brand representatives'' (i.e., salespersons) who don't embody the brand's ''classic American'' look. Some may be surprised, then, to learn that the racy photos in the forthcoming ''Back to School 2003'' issue of the Abercrombie & Fitch Quarterly are garnished with running analysis from a man who hardly embodies ''classic American'' ideas: the left-wing Slovenian philosopher, cultural critic, and theoretical omnivore Slavoj Zizek.

In his contribution to A&F's magazine-catalog hybrid, Zizek does not claim to discover any latent philosophical truths in Bruce Weber's photographs of young, mostly white men and women slipping out of pre-rumpled polo shirts and cargo shorts. Discussing a shot in which a topless blonde turns her face to the sun while her two male companions undress, the author of ''Enjoy Your Symptom!'' restricts himself to musing, ''This now of the peaceful satisfaction is to her infinitely preferable to the prospect of copulation.''


So where's the theory?


Reached via telephone in Ljubljana, Zizek told Ideas, ''You've got me there. I spent literally 10 minutes on this assignment, just free-associating. I was in theoretical despair!''


But Zizek bristled at the suggestion that there was anything unseemly about an internationally renowned intellectual writing copy for a clothing catalog. ''If I were asked to choose between doing things like this to earn money and becoming fully employed as an American academic, kissing [EXPLETIVE] to get a tenured post,'' he growled, ''I would with pleasure choose writing for such journals!''


This story ran on page H2 of the Boston Globe on 7/6/2003.