In a rare inversion of product placement, Abercrombie & Fitch—that cologne-drenched Aryan armoire radiating musk through every mall in America—has offered a “substantial payment” to Jersey Shore figurehead Mike “The Situation” Superfluousname-o and his fellow cast members as a plea for them to stop wearing its clothes. The company issued a press release last night, announcing that it was “deeply concerned” that the implicit association is causing “significant damage to our image,” as shallow, materialistic people willing to spend unseemly amounts on ugly T-shirts in a desperate attempt to fit in and/or cling to an ideal of youth is hardly the clientele they want at Abercrombie & Fitch.
More telling, perhaps, is that A&F believes the lifestyle depicted by Jersey Shore runs “contrary to the aspirational nature of our brand”—an aspiration that, judging by its skin-baring catalogs, its creepy, faux-summer camp headquarters lorded over by perma-tanned and dyed-blond (and 61-year-old) CEO Mike Jeffries, and the brand’s noted popularity with older gay men, involves living permanently within the fantasy of a never-ending frat party on the beach, where at any moment an innocent game of all-American, topless touch football can take a homoerotic turn. You can see why Jersey Shore’s decidedly seedier, non-WASP-y version of hypersexuality might not fit within that particular dream. Of course, that doesn’t mean the company hasn’t embraced the association before: One of A&F’s most popular sellers is a graphic tee reading “The Fitchuation,” which suggests this is all an association-by-non-association publicity stunt that reeks of “doth protest too much.”