Sunday, February 1, 2015

Erasing and Skewing a Controversy -- American Apparel

Go to any mall or shopping center and the American Apparel clothing shop can be typically found. It's not overly avant-garde nor flashy. It boasts that it's sweatshop-free and has a range of basic colors and outfits. The company has also become notorious for its sexualized and exploitive ads of women. To add to this, its founder, Dov Charney, was ousted for reports of sexual harassment and other misconducts. All of this shows a disturbing side of American Apparel, but this seemingly is lessened in the reporting made by the Business Insider.

Titled, "American Apparel Has A Strict New Set Of Rules For Workers", one would believe that there would be an elaboration as to why the company needs to create these rules. Instead, the article is elusive and nearly unwilling to delve into the controversial subject of Dov Charney. It almost reads like an article on rape. The article employs a passive voice and doesn't clarify the controversy of Charney other than stating his, "downfall followed a string of allegations of misconduct during his 16-year tenure at the company". The reader isn't given a reason as to why Charney is ousted from his own company and why the company needs to specify new rules in the workplace.

The article states that the new rules will prohibit romantic relationships between bosses and their employees while also stating that the company will not tolerate any offensive or vulgar behavior in the workplace. Why would this need to be explicitly addressed within this new 6, 200 word rulebook? Unfortunately, the article doesn't say. The article, rather than giving context to what must be a troubling environment within the already notorious company, spends it's concise report not on the rules itself, but Charney's reaction to it. "'I gave them my entire life's work...Instead, they used this investigation to fire me,'" Charney is quoted in response to his ousting from American Apparel. This quote doesn't fit with the code of ethics and, if the article wanted to feature him, they should've supplied more information as to why he was fired. Instead, Charney's quote only causes the reader to sympathize with him. Without the information given to explain the nature of the new rulebook, the reader has only the perspective of Charney who feels angered at the change occurring within his company.

So why does this matter? The article is one of many that someone could read about American Apparel. Even so, someone reporting something as serious as the sexist and questionable nature of a company should always leave out bias or erasure of information. The reader doesn't know why the rulebook even needs to be changed nor the reason why Charney should be fired from his company. In fact, the article chooses to sympathize with this man who was kicked off the board of his own company due to sexual harassment allegations, but this seems to be barely acknowledged in the article. If a reader reads only this article, what view will they have on American Apparel? They might believe Charney is facing injustice and that the company is addressing an issue that isn't there. An article such as this has to dive in and truly give the information, not dance around it nor make the company less controversial than it truly is.

Here's the Business Insider article: http://www.businessinsider.com/american-apparels-new-rules-for-workers-2015-1

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