The end that justifies the jeans


IF YOU are allowed up after 9 p.m., you might have seen the new commercials for Lee jeans on RTE last Friday night.

"Gypsy Rose Lee" was considered too "raunchy" to be shown before 9 p.m., though British viewers, whose morals are notoriously looser, were allowed see it after 7.30 p.m.

The commercial plays on the life and busy times of the celebrated American striptease artiste, and is set in New Orleans in the 1920s. In the excited prose of the press release: "Two seemingly innocent girls enjoying their work at a petrol station are spotted - and splashed - by a group of boys passing in their car. Eager to be rid of their (sic) dirty clothes, our heroine (played by actress Heidi Jo Huberg), aware that she has the boy's (sic) full attention, proceeds to do a seductive striptease, playing to her admiring - if wary - audience. She is in control and the boys are in awe. The commercial climaxes at the stripper tosses her pair of trusted Lee jeans as bait to the lustful but naive boys."

Meanwhile "Great Balls of Fire" plays on the character of Jerry Lee Lewis and involves some boy girl goings on in an American barn in the 1950s.

The commercials are part of a campaign focusing on the jeans supposedly worn by famous personalities named Lee.

Anyway, I have had a sneak preview of some of the forthcoming commercials.

The first is set in the US during the American Civil War and the camera focuses on Robert E. Lee's bedraggled men, running two hours late for their date with George B. McLellan's Army of the Potomac in the Shenandoah Valley. In the background we hear a Blur version of John Brown's Body.

General Lee (played winningly by Jack Nicholson) is worrying about McClellan's siege artillery when suddenly, up from the meadows, rich with corn, clear in the cool September morn, the clustered spires of Frederick stand, green walled by the hills of Maryland.

And a crazed old lady (bravest of all in Frederick town) takes up the flag the men haul down.

"Shoot if you must this old grey head, but spare your country's flag!" she said - for rhyming purposes.

Yes, it's Barbara Frietchie, played by Bette Midler, and for 79, Barbara is lookin' good.

"Who touches a hair of yon grey head. . . dies like a dog! March on!" says Lee (Nicholson) who has somehow displaced Stonewall Jackson for poetic purposes.

We leave Barbara looking lustfully towards Nicholson's jeans clad rear as he moves on, and fade out on Oasis singing a gangsta rap version of the Battle Hymn of the Republica.

The next commercial takes us to Dallas, Texas. The time is November 1963. The cameras close slowly in on a blurred face high up in the local book repository.

Of course this is all done in the best possible taste. To loud cheering, a motorcade turns the corner by a grassy knoll as Lee Harvey Oswald, for it is he (played moodily by Keanu Reeves), is seen to tighten the belt on his baggy cut jeans.

In the background Kenny Rogers and the First Edition sing Ruuuuuuuby, Don't Take Your Love to Town.

No one will actually admit responsibility for this commercial but (I need hardly tell you that) conspiracy theories are rife.

Less controversial, if rather more surreal, is the Lee commercial shot in a sleepy Irish town and featuring a beautiful young damsel lying on a riverbank and doing a love me/love me not job on a daisy.

The sun shines, big fat cumulus clouds hang about the sky like trainee juvenile delinquents, and alter a little while (which seems longer) a pair of instantly recognisable jeans is seen floating down the river.

Naturally the young woman is instantly reminded of her absent lover, who has peculiar ways of attracting her attention. The lovely voice of Daniel O'Donnell is then heard in song, and we catch a fleeting glimpse of St Finbar's Cathedral.

We are on the banks of my own lovely Lee and there is very little can be done about it.