The luxury fashion brand Balenciaga came under fire throughout the past few days when Twitter and TikTok personalities made the fashion brand begin trending in the worst way possible.
In the ad campaign that is now removed from Balenciaga’s website, the homepage imagery was likely meant to be provocative, as many luxury brands lean on in their advertising campaigns. However, Balenciaga went way too far when they not only to have a child, who looks no older than four or five years old, pose for photos with a teddy bear purse containing bondage gear; but then also chose to leave an excerpt from the United States Supreme Court opinion in United States v. Williams, as well as Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition in clear sign on the table in the ad.
Both United States v. Williams, as well as Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition directly deal with matters surrounding the legality of child pornography.
The Supreme Court case U.S. v. Williams criminalized the pandering of child pornography. The case comes after the defendant, Willaims, was found guilty of possessing numerous examples of child pornography. After the guilty verdict, he went on to challenge the constitutionality of the ruling.
The extremely controversial Supreme Court case Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, which is the document that Balenciaga chose to leave in clear sight in the homepage advertisement, virtual or only suggestive imagery that otherwise resembles child porn is protected speech. This went against the ruling that set up the Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) in 1996, and removed many of the limits that CPPA has previously set up. This allows children to be sexualized in multiple different ways, and the court decided that it is considered to be perfectly legal and falls under protected speech.
Twitter and TikTok users quickly weighed in on Balenciaga’s decision to run with this advertising campaign:
the brand "Balenciaga" just did a uh….. interesting… photoshoot for their new products recently which included a very purposely poorly hidden court document about 'virtual child porn'
normal stuff pic.twitter.com/zjMN5WhZ0s
— shoe (@shoe0nhead) November 21, 2022
I’ve never been one to “cancel” but fashion brand Balenciaga needs to be shut down.
They used a CHILD in a BDSM themed photoshoot and have court documents discussing child p*rnography “visibly hidden” in the photos.
This is a new low for society and a not-so-new high for Satan. pic.twitter.com/gx3WhlKKiX
— Xaviaer DuRousseau (@XAVIAERD) November 21, 2022
This is absolutely disgusting. Balenciaga features toddlers in ads, holding teddy bears in bondage outfits and with a court document about “child porn” partially hidden in the image.
This is criminal & sick. Sexualizing children must be a redline. @KimKardashian – speak out now. pic.twitter.com/lNIdywunlY
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) November 22, 2022
Elon Musk has since added a context notice onto the Tweet by @Shoe0nHead, adding:
“Although Shoe often makes comments to cause amusement or laughter, this is an authentic Balencia marketing photograph: https://balenciaga.dam.kering.com/m/7d6d72f3dfc4f7fc/Medium-adidas-hp-BSP23_20220717_CM_BALENCIAGA_SP23_06_485_LEX_AVE_0156_MERGED_FINAL_RGB_2105x2600.jpg It contains an except from the US Supreme Court opinion in United States v. Williams, which upheld part of a federal child pornography law. https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/pdf/06-694P.ZO https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/us-v-williams/”