Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A five-million-dollar idea?

Well, that's what it ended up costing American Apparel in a court settlement with Woody Allen over the unauthorized use of an image from his film, "Annie Hall" for a 2007 billboard.  As reported yesterday in the NY Times:
Dov Charney, American Apparel’s chief executive, contended that the image, which depicted Mr. Allen dressed as a Hasidic Jew in a scene from the 1977 film, was fair game because it was intended as parody, which is protected by the First Amendment.
The Yiddish phrase accompanying the photo apparently translates to “the holy rebbe.”  Is this putting you in a frame of mind go buy some clothes yet?
In addition, Mr. Charney argued that the lawsuit, which had sought $10 million, was excessive, as the billboards in question were taken down at Mr. Allen’s request after less than a week.

“I think this case was about the dignity of ideas,” said Mr. Charney, explaining that his insurance company had forced him to settle. “I’m not sorry for expressing myself.”
Okay, sir, but answer us this:  Exactly what in God's name are you expressing here?  Is this a billboard for an audience of one?  And what is the rationale for posting this personal (if incomprehensible) statement under the guise of your clothing chain?
Mr. Charney has...been the subject of highly publicized charges about sexual conduct, including several sexual harassment lawsuits brought by former employees.

Mr. Charney said the charges, which he denies, left him feeling so misunderstood that he could strongly identify with Alvy Singer, Mr. Allen’s character in “Annie Hall.”

In the movie, Alvy appears as a Hasidic Jew when seen through the eyes of Grammy Hall, his girlfriend’s grandmother; he feels he is being looked down upon merely because he is Jewish.

The sense of kinship prompted Mr. Charney to plaster Mr. Allen’s character on billboards, according to a 1,560-word statement that Mr. Charney released on Monday.
Oh, it all makes sense now.  Apparently, Mr. Allen didn't share the sense of kinship.

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