Cigarette ads are the fetish films of hype. In order to overcome the instinct for self-preservation, they must conjure up the most primal fantasies of vitality, and they do it by cracking the codes of sexual allure. Take the latest Camel campaign. Tapping into the retro mode—so resonant for people who've never had to live through the era being revived—these ads feature frails (as women were called by the 'greatest generation') drifting through a Vargas dream of dressing to regress. But the pulpy core of this campaign is the Camel ad starring a sailor just home from the Big One and savoring his victory with a smile as big as the empire he's ready to claim. Among his holdings is a woman who worshipfully offers him a light. She stands at least a foot below him, and from this perspective it's possible to imagine a time when men were giants and sizzling women... More >>>