- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Queen’s jeans

Perez Hilton, the blogger notorious for his venomous and profanity-laced attacks on celebrities and barbed insults directed at conservatives, recently launched a new Web site called Cocoperez.com, which will follow the convergence of fashion and pop culture.

The Gap Inc., the denim retailer synonymous with wholesome, all-American style, has signed on as a presenting sponsor of the new site and posted two jeans ads on the site’s main page, prompting conservative groups to question the company’s marketing strategy and consider a boycott.

The Gap’s partnership with the polarizing blogger comes in the thick of the back-to-school shopping season and on the heels of Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck losing advertisers for calling President Obama a “racist.”

The Gap will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Friday by outfitting the traders of the New York Stock Exchange in its “premium jeans” while members of the Gap’s founding Fisher family ring the closing bell, but some won’t be joining the party.

“It’s certainly disappointing that the Gap is soliciting a blogger widely known for his crudeness, his foul language and use of obscenities. [Mr. Hilton] represents the coarsening of American culture at its worst,” says Rob Schwarzwalder, senior vice president of the Family Research Council.

“Corporations need to be held responsible for the image they project,” he says, adding that the Family Research Council is considering a boycott campaign.

Mr. Hilton, who has been blogging at perezhilton.com (originally called www.pagesixsixsix.com) since 2004, became a household name this spring as a judge at the Miss USA competition. He asked Miss California, Carrie Prejean, her thoughts on the legalization of gay marriage.

“I do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there,” she responded.

An avid gay-marriage supporter who is known as the “Queen of All Media,” Mr. Hilton called Miss Prejean a “dumb bitch” on his blog, an epithet he commonly hurls at both men and women. He recently referred to Elisabeth Hasselbeck of ABC’s “The View” as “Elisa-bitch.” The term “douche” as in “douche bag” is another term Mr. Hilton frequently employs to describe the objects of his derision.

In June, Mr. Hilton got into a tiff with will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas at a concert in Toronto. “I don’t need to respect you … stop being such a faggot,” Mr. Hilton taunted the rap star on his video blog.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) decried Mr. Hilton’s use of the anti-gay slur.

Dan Gainor, director of research with the Culture and Media Institute, another conservative group, says a boycott should be expected if the Gap does not explain its actions.

“A blowback for the Gap can happen here immediately,” Mr. Gainor warns, describing Mr. Hilton as a “stain on humanity, a scandal monger and an embarrassment.”

Mr. Gainor cites as a precedent the recent withdrawal of advertising from Fox’s “Glenn Beck Show” after Mr. Beck, an outspoken Obama critic, labeled the president a “racist” on the network in late July. It has been reported that Geico and Lawyers.com are among the companies that recently pulled their ads.

The Gap and Mr. Hilton’s reps had not returned calls or e-mails from G2 by press time.

Mr. Hilton’s advertising manager, Henry Copeland, disclosed to the Los Angeles Times in an Aug. 10 interview that Mr. Hilton’s main Web site “commands as much as $72,000 for a single 24-hour wallpaper-style ad that incorporates the banner logo across the top of the site” and “gets more than 10 million unique visitors per month and 300 million page views per month.”

Although cocoperez.com is seen by many as a tamer, more mainstream site than perezhilton.com, only time will tell if Mr. Hilton is able to soften his controversial image in a bid to broaden his appeal.

Mr. Hilton, who has expanded into music with his own record label, Perezcious Music, backed by Warner Bros. Records, has just announced he will host a concert tour featuring several of his favorite acts. Perez Hilton Presents stops at the 9:30 Club on Sept. 12.

• To contact Stephanie Green or Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected] washingtontimes.com.

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