Balenciaga’s latest ad campaign has been a hot topic. The brand used imagery that was heavily linked to the abuse of children, and specifically sexual abuse. It also mentioned Baal, the Canaanite god to whom children were sacrificed.
The brand apologized profusely after the campaign caused a rift in the company’s image. They even threatened to sue the advertiser.
It would seem that the designer has offered an apology. However, the apology raises more questions than answers.
The designer posted the apology to Instagram. It reads in its entirety:
I am sorry for making a poor choice in the concept of the gifting campaign for the children. I accept full responsibility. It was wrong for children to promote objects that had nothing whatsoever to do with them.
Although I sometimes wish to provoke thought through my writing, I wouldn’t have any intention of doing that with child abuse, which I strongly condemn. Period.
To learn and to help, I must listen to this and engage with child protective organizations.
Balenciaga has assured that appropriate measures will be taken to prevent similar errors in the future and to hold us accountable for protecting children’s welfare in any way possible.
Some oddities stand out immediately.
One, he stated that he would never have the intention to do so with child abuse that I condemn.
It is clear that his intention was everything when you look at the details of his work. Some elements of the shoot required a lot of thought and planning, such as the references to Baal and court documents that refer to a Supreme Court child porn case and to a painter who created a series nude toddlers who cannibalized other toddlers. This is not including the BDSM-branded teddy bears.
It is hard to believe that anyone would blindly put so much detail into a photoshoot. You can see the court documents clearly in the photo shoot. The BDSM bears are incredibly difficult to miss.
This makes his remaining apology look like someone who just wants people to hear what he has to say. Even the part about learning from it and listening to others feels like a cliché line from someone about to be completely cancelled. Also, you should apologize if someone is offended. This is not the same as saying “sorry, you’re mad” but “sorry that I did what I did.”
While he may be a bad at apologizing, and he may be truly sorry, acting as if he didn’t intend to create the art he did is so difficult to swallow that it might as well be impossible. The shoot is full of evil, especially against children.