What is your greatest regret? On what occasion do you lie? In an excerpt from the magazine’s latest hardcover effort, Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire, 10 of our age’s most recognizable luminaries submit to Marcel Proust’s favorite parlor game. Plus: Answer your own Proust Questionnaire using your Facebook account.
Illustrations by Risko.
What is your greatest fear?
Converting kilometers to miles.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
A seagull—graceful in flight, rapacious in appetite.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Nothing about me, everything about others.
EDWARD M. KENNEDY
On what occasion do you lie? When I tell each of my sisters that she’s the prettiest of them all.
What is your motto? “God helps those who help themselves.”
Which words or phrases do you most overuse? I. Tremendous. Stupid. Idiot. Dream.
Which living person do you most despise? The Bluetooth-wearing S.U.V. driver who idles in front of my building.
How would you like to die? Vindicated.
On what occasions do you lie? I probably lie constantly, if the definition of lying includes white lies, social lies, lies to ease a situation or make someone feel better.…
What is your greatest regret? Not learning to read music. However, Juilliard is still on my mind! I’ve come within two blocks of the building, and my schedule would not allow for me to enroll at the time.
From Time.com, ten of the most inappropriate ads ever conceived. Inappropriate to them, that is. I like a couple of these.
This campaign, which ran in the otherwise straightlaced city-state of Singapore in the first half of 2009, makes possibly the least subtle allusion to oral sex of any ad that wasn't pasted to the inside of a pay telephone booth. While the pitch may only appeal to half the population — and make nearly everyone blush and uncomfortable — it is certainly hard to forget. Did they cross a line? Probably. Burger King argues in its defense that the campaign was never intended to run in the U.S.
This sophomoric video was banned from Super Bowl XL in 2006 — for obvious reasons. Not only does it make us cringe, but it's not exactly putting their product in a positive light. (Who would want a Bud Light after that?) Still, the company obviously knows its customers, or at least knows who it thinks its customers are. A February 2009 viral campaign featured a regular American Joe trying to buy a little porn with his Bud Light, making us wonder what kind of consumer they are trying to attract.
Virgin's controversial advertisement in promotion of their CO2-conserving Pendolina train, is quite literally a news report of a mass animal orgy. What makes this ad creepier is the fact that these are humans dressed as animals. After all this, the company might consider a name change.
We're not exactly sure who the target audience is for these Bacardi Breezer ads. Touting "an ugly girlfriend" as the ideal "hotness-boosting accessory," the campaign offers cringeworthy explanations: "Upgrade your trips to the beach with Sally," reads one. "97 kilograms of femininity, strength and double chins. No tires can disguise the lumpy rolls decorating that body." And this appeals to potential buyers of the quintessential girly drink — how? The ad ran for just two months through an Israeli affiliate in 2008 before Bacardi shut it down and issued an apology.
Unlike many of the over-the-top ads on this list, this one, by French automaker Citroen, sneaks up on you. The 2008 spot opens "with airborne shots to Wagner, reminiscent of the controversial Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will," noted Angus Robertson, leader of the UK's Westminster Scottish National Party, who tried to get the ad banned last year. "It goes on to feature an eagle statue similar to the Nazi emblem, a road sign in gothic script not seen in Germany since 1945, a fencing duel popular with extreme-right German fraternities and ends in front of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Stadium." Citroen defended the ad as "humorous and fun."
To be fair, it can't be easy creating a commercial for a razor that allows women to shave where the sun don't shine. But using landscaping — namely waist-high topiaries — might not have been the most subtle metaphor. The U.K. version even features a catchy jingle about "mowing the lawn." (Lyrics include "Feeling rough around the edges? It's time to trim the hedges!")