As some of you have probably read, there’s a set of photos going around the Internet that purport to show Clint Eastwood’s 19-year-old daughter Francesca Eastwood chewing on, sawing in half and then setting ablaze a “$100,000 Hermes Crocodile Birkin” (scare quotes intentional, you’ll see why in a second), all in the name of art. (“Art.”) The photos appear on the website of photographer Tyler Shields, Eastwood’s boyfriend, and their creation will reportedly be documented in an episode of her E! reality show, Mrs. Eastwood and Company, set to run next week.

The Internet has been clutching its collective pearls since TMZ first posted about this story a few days ago, with people expressing outrage about a number of issues they have with the photos and their artistic goals. (Among the complaints I’ve read: torching something that costs that much money is both aggressively stupid and wasteful, anyone would spend $100,000 on a handbag in the first place is obscene, and Francesca is bringing shame to her father’s good name and disrespecting an iconic piece of design in the process.) It seems to us, though, that everyone’s ignoring a lot of fairly clear factual inaccuracies in this whole dumb stunt that render the debate moot – no one burned a crocodile Birkin at all, despite what an aspiring reality star, her publicity-hungry boyfriend and the network that brought us four distinct Kardashian-based shows want you to believe. We’ve got the skinny, plus the rest of the photos, after the jump.

First and foremost, crocodile Hermes Birkins don’t cost $100,000. They just don’t, and that’s a fact that even the fashion media reporting this story seems happy to blissfully ignore in favor of sensationalism. A 35cm porosus crocodile Birkin currently costs €31,200, which is a little more than $38,000. Even though that’s still a hefty chunk of change, it is nowhere near the mindblowing six-figure price tag that’s being assigned to the bag in the photos. There’s no indication that the bag had the kind of diamond-encrusted hardware that would push the price tag anywhere near the realm of what’s been reported.

On top of that, if the bag in these pictures is real, I’ll eat my hat. Not only does the “Birkin” look like it’s made out of croc-embossed pleather at the very best, but the way that the bag is twisting and bunching in the pre-destruction photo should be enough to tip off anyone that’s ever seen the real deal in person. The bag that was used for this shoot probably cost some poor production assistant $25 to buy it out of the trunk of a car in Santee Alley. Our Hermes experts on the PurseForum agree – it’s a knockoff, and not even a convincing one.

The message Shields and Eastwood claim to have been trying to convey with this set of photos – that you should never let your possessions possess you – is not necessarily a bad one at all, and even something worth remembering as a luxury consumer. Although the aesthetic value of the end artistic product is debatable at best and fairly amateurish at worst, the same can be said for tons of other art that people spend tens of thousands of dollars making, day in and day out; in that context, these photos would be hardly unique, even if they actually depicted what they claim to depict. The fact is, though, that they don’t.

To me, that’s why nothing in these photos is particularly shocking. What is shocking, though, is that more people aren’t seeing this for exactly what it is: a marketing ploy with a decidedly reality-TV budget, intended to drum up interest for a show that no one was talking about until now. In that regard, it would be difficult to understate the effectiveness of this photo shoot. Just don’t weep for the “Birkin” – it’s probably better off in this state anyway.

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