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1. Does the title "Hennessy: The Civilized Way to Lay Down the Law" mean "Hennesy drink is a civilized way to lead things as you desire, that is, with this drink you can convince anybody to accept your opinions"?


2. What is the relation of this artwork to the social phenomenon of upward mobility?


Context:

... Hennessy: The Civilized Way to Lay Down the Law by Jeff Koons, in which a black couple are typified and abstracted into a pleasing image of the relatively new social phenomenon of upward mobility, in this case that of the black minorities in America.

Source of image: Link

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Broadly speaking, to lay down the law means to express your opinions forcefully, often to people who disagree.

1. Does the title "Hennessy: The Civilized Way to Lay Down the Law" mean "Hennessy drink is a civilized way to lead things as you desire, that is, with this drink you can convince anybody to accept your opinions"?

No. To me, it means that people who drink Hennessy can discuss things in a civilized and intelligent way.

2. What is the relation of this artwork to the social phenomenon of upward mobility?

Upward mobility involves working hard to improve one's position in society. The couple in the ad seem to have done this and to have achieved success in life.

Clive

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It is apparently a parody of a "Hennessy: The civilised way to ..." ad series. Though it appears to me like a corny, dated ad, I would not have realised it was an actual parody if it hadn't been for the mention of Jeff Koons. There is some commentary on it here. It mentions law books, so I suppose "lay down the law" is a pun, referencing putting the books down (and possibly also hinting at "lay" in the "have sex with" sense).

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Comments  

Hi GPY,

I'm glad you responded.

I take it you were referring to commentary such as this.

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/jeff-koons-plays-his-race-card-89892

Thanks for explaining this correctly.

Clive

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CliveI take it you were referring to commentary such as this.
https://news.artnet.com/art-world/jeff-koons-plays-his-race-card-89892

Yes, thanks, that's the one. The stoopid link has not worked in my post for some reason.

Hi GPY. So, what is your exact interpretation of "The Civilized Way To Lay Down The Law"?

catttt

Hi GPY. So, what is your exact interpretation of "The Civilized Way To Lay Down The Law"?

There was a series of ads with the tagline "Hennessy: The Civilized Way to ...", tying in with brand slogan "The world's most civilized spirit". This pattern of words is pre-existing. Koons has (as far as I understand it) made up a new tagline in the same pattern. "Lay down the law" is a set expression with the meaning that Clive explained. Whether the usual meaning of "lay down the law" has any great relevance in this case, I'm not certain. However, it has apparently been used as an opportunity to make a pun (perhaps intended as a cheesy pun to match the perceived cheesiness of the ad campaign), whereby "lay down the law" can be also interpreted in the ways that I explained above.

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