Abercrombie Ads Obscene?

One of two marketing images that went up last month displays three shirtless young men. The man in the lead appears to be about to pull up his jeans, which have slipped down enough to reveal his upper buttocks.

"It was a shock. just shock advertisement."

Julie Webber was shopping at the Tyler mall with her two young children when she walked past the Abercrombie ad.

"My initial reaction when I see anything like that is to turn the other way," said Webber.  "I don't want to see that and I don't want my children to see that either."

Many of you had the same reaction when asked about the images.

"I think the ads are inappropriate," said Charlie Johnson.  "I mean, they're trying to pass laws right now to get children to pull their pants up. So yeah it's a little inappropriate, especially for children to see."

"They're clothing stores," said Samantha Steward.  "Shouldn't they be selling clothing and not the bodies of people?  That just adds to another pressure of people having to look a certain way."

Yet others don't see what all the fuss is about, saying it's just the nature of advertising.

"I look at it and I laugh because it's just like I don't know how people could be mad at it," said Chris Brooks.  "I don't see why. It's just people trying to sell a product."

Abercrombie has constitutional rights and freedoms just like any other business. Doctor Alisa White, professor of media law at UT Tyler, said it's extremely difficult to prove something is legally obscene.

"I will not buy from them but I actually do support their right to be distasteful because it's not illegal," said Dr. Alisa White, professor of media law at UT Tyler.

Determining whether something is offensive depends on community standards, which are now undefined.

"It used to be much simpler because you would look at your local community but we're becoming a global community," said White.  "We have a lot of people who move in and out. We have TV markets now with people from tiny towns and people from metropolitan areas, so the courts are really undecided in terms of what makes up the legal definition of community."

A tough fight legally, but nothing a belt couldn't fix.

The obscenity charges in Virginia Beach were dropped against Abercrombie. The store released a statement saying in part "the marketing images in question show less skin that you see any summer day at the beach.... We will pursue our legal rights aggressively."

Courtney Lane, Reporting  clane@kltv.com