Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Presentation Matters

I first viewed the controversal Equinox video a couple weeks ago and frankly wondered how long it would take to go viral and piss people off. The time is now. I'm suddenly been seeing it everywhere. It's been posted within my yoga circles on Facebook a half-dozen times and Grimmly just wrote a post commenting on it.

I'm not sure why I didn't dive right into this one. I suppose I'm just weary of this debate because it can go in so many different directions: What is yoga? Does western yoga objectify women's bodies? Are sex and yoga mutually exclusive? Does modern yoga glorify a particular body type to the exclusion of others? And on and on...

For me, it boils down to one word: intention. Intention is the reason I couldn't conjure up a lot of indignation over the naked-Kathryn-Budig-Toesox-ads. I'm familiar with Jasper Johal's photography and felt that the intention was good.

Back to Equinox. This video portrays a woman's yoga practice and it's a very nice one. Briohny Smyth is strong and lithe and she makes it all look easy. Even the atmosphere of the video is muted and gentle. So far, great intentions.

It's the camera angles I take issue with. The first time I watched, I was creeped out so I watched it again to figure out why. Gratuitous crotch shots, boob shots, close-ups. It was all a bit over the top. For me, anyway. And I know that others may feel differently and that's okay. I guess I just wish the whole thing had been shot from one angle to capture the full beauty of Briohny's practice, instead of exploring the lines of her underwear.

To sum up: The practice=good intentions. The camera angles and production=bad intentions.

Interestingly, Briohny Smyth is a student of Kathryn Budig, of naked-Toesox-ad fame. Budig wrote an article for the Huffington Post in which she explores the issue from her own perspective and she also interviews Briohny to capture hers: Stop Judging and Read.

Meanwhile, the Equinox video continues to wrack up the hits, over a million last count. In skill and strength, I think Laruga's practice videos are every bit as impressive as this one (perhaps more so), but I doubt she gets those kind of numbers.

You see? Presentation matters!

If you're in the mood to view some 'real world' morning yoga, Nadine shares her early morning practice with this video: Not Quite Equinox. It probably looks a bit more like what most of you experience at home, add a cat or dog or small child into the mix.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Loo said...

oh thank god someone did this! I had the same thought: someone needs to make one that shows the reality... honestly, the brouhaha really gets to me, but mostly because the 'defenders' get so defensive! You can't criticize without being called a 'hater'. It was the close-ups of her breathing belly that made me gag.

sereneflavor said...

I just don't understands why someone would think that a fitness business like equinox would not fixate on attracting a customer who wants to ogle women or a customer who wants body sculpting by the most effective method. If the ad agency understands what the client (equinox) requires, the ad people know it is really not an homage to the practice of yoga that they are asking for. Advertisers believe in the posibility of tacky but tastefully done. I think that what is making people crazy is that a beautiful practice session was used to sell get your ass in shape and be hot. Sort of like using A classic ballet performance to show how tampons don't leak....

Kaivalya said...

I know! There was something about those extreme closeups that made me feel dirty. It was sort of like going to church and being mooned by the priest. Definitely unsettling!

Ding, ding! You win the prize! Hey folks, this Equinox thing? It's ADVERTISING.

I think that many people, particulary the younger generation who have grown up in a propaganda-saturated media culture, tend not to recognise - or they overlook - advertising in all of it's various guises.

It's interesting that Ashtangis especially have reacted negatively to the Equinox video. It takes something that many of us value - even consider sacred - and used it as a vehicle to sell something completely out of context: sex, perfect bodies, gym memberships.

No wonder people (me!) are a bit peeved.