Lord, this winter. I’m housebound for yet another workday with the kid, whose day-care facility appears to categorize snow as a noxious biological agent. He has compensated for the lack of age-appropriate company by testing the structural integrity of his house and the unconditional love of his parents: performing pirouettes on the living-room railing, smash-sampling the newly painted mantle with a toy hammer, whipping Kidd-grade no-look passes at daddy’s head with lacrosse balls, etc. It’s like living with a fragile dwarf terrorist who’s unaware that he’s fragile, a dwarf or a terrorist.
This morning I conceded defeat and officially assigned all parenting responsibilities to the iPad. So with the sing-song narration of Curious George shorts providing a totally non-distracting soundtrack, I passed a few of the endless hours until bedtime by slogging my way through Skype’s “Victoria Beckham Fashion Story,” which relates the uplifting tale of how the erstwhile Spice Gal parlayed her fame and standing with the world’s top designers into a charitable campaign that outfitted entire African villages in durable, low-cost workwear.
Ha ha no - it’s about celebrities and the pretty dresses their celebrity inspires, and it’s less a Skype brand campaign than a giant slobbery kiss on Beckham’s behind. To give a full picture of the work that goes into creating a fashion brand from scratch, the webamabook - I have no earthly idea what to call it - grafts together chunks of chronology, text, video and photos in a spatially oblivious, almost brazenly convoluted manner. Anyone with a monitor sized less than 20 inches shouldn’t bother clicking, lest that all the horizontal and vertical scrolling chips away at his/her already snow-soddened psyche.
But what the clipamasiteepisode lacks in thematic and technological coherence, it makes up for in unnecessary length. With a video prologue preceding three distinct chapters, each of which is divided into sub-chapters with hard-hitting headers like “A Growing Confidence” and “Dream to Reality,” “Fashion Story” doesn’t so much tell a fashion story as deliberately, laboriously parcel it out in grain-sized morsels. It leaves nothing out: key hires, awards-show presentations, corporate milestones, you name it.
Or rather, it leaves nothing positive out. If Beckham faced any true obstacles during the half-decade it took her to bring the brand to prominence - beyond “fashion is hard!” or “it’d sure be swell if everybody took me as seriously as, say, Marie Curie or Norma Rae” - we don’t hear about them here. Rather, we’re treated to endless monologues about Beckham’s vision (clear), confidence (boundless), perfectionism (double-boundless) and ambition (heretofore seen only in mythological beings and Madonna).
There’s an interesting story in here somewhere, given how Beckham’s wares have achieved such high regard in such a short period of time, but it gets buried amid the self-congratulatory bromides. The irony is that some of these passages actually diminish Beckham’s achievement: “On a personal level, Victoria has always been forward-thinking with regards to the digital world - from understanding social media to shopping and researching e-commerce stores to using the latest apps.” Whoa, using the latest apps? Even Spotify? Watch out, Zuckerberg - there’s a new coding queen in town, and her shoes are both sensible and fabulous.
The 10-15 video clips embedded in “Victoria Beckham Fashion Story” range from the forgettable (Beckham sitting for an interview at the International Herald Tribune Luxury Conference) to the silly (“Viral film SS09 - Hide and Seek,” in which models drape themselves in lampshades and cloth elephant trunks as part of a game that they appear to be playing with the voices in their head). They have little purpose, beyond allowing the campaignositeobook benefactors to bill their work as truly multimedia.
As for those benefactors, well, I can’t see how Skype realizes even the slightest benefit from this thing. The theoretical link is that Beckham has long used Skype to stay in touch with her cohorts and collaborators from afar, and the chapters are littered with “collaborate with Skype” signposts. But the takeaway isn’t anything more profound than that - “Skype allows you to communicate with people who aren’t in the same room with you.” This is not news to animate 21st century beings.
I love Skype. I use it for work and I use it for play. It has transformed online fantasy sports drafts, making them 720 percent more entertaining and potentially felonious. But I don’t see what the brand gets out of this relationship - and really, beyond the ego tongue bath, I don’t see what Beckham gets out of it, either. What a colossal waste of bandwidth.