Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Most Homophobic Thing You'll See This Week

I was planning on watching Rubber On Demand this weekend, but then I read Pax's review over at Billy Loves Stu and decided to wait and spend my money on something else. I still want to and will see it, but not for full price. Pax is a good guy,  a fellow Jersey Boy and he loves horror movies as much as I do. If you don't already read Billy Loves Stu, you should check it out.

So... There's some very odd stuff going on tonight, including the picture on your right and it's relevance to what I really want to to talk about. And no, Mr. Lucas please don't sue me, I am in no way implying that Ewoks, you, your company or your movies are homophobic, but it was one of the top 3 results I got when I Googled an image using a specific combination of words, which I promise I will tell you  about after I discuss tonight's main topic. Once I reveal that search combination, you'll be as puzzled by this picture's inclusion as the #3 suggestion as I initially was. Number 3! What, are you kidding me?

But I digress. Regular readers may be familiar with my "Gayest Thing" posts, in which I, in good humor, point out something particularly gay (and about which no one has ever complained or posted negative comments). In other words, if I ever offended anyone on my blog, they've never told me so. I would post it and respond accordingly and move on.

Then I saw the commercial posted below for Foster's Beer, an Australian import of which I have never been a fan (and trust me - I may be a martini snob, but I am a beer aficionado). If someone knows better, please correct me if I am wrong, but I remember being told by an Aussie that Foster's was made for export and most Aussies despise it. Trust me when I tell you, Foster's is not a very good beer. While Uncle P prefers darker, bolder and more interestingly seasoned beers, I would honestly have a Budweiser or a (Heaven forfend) Miller over a Foster's.

"Where the hell is all this going?" you are asking yourself, if you haven't already given up and gone off to play World of Warcraft or Angry Birds. Well, watch the commercial and then come back. I promise it will all make sense (or at least I hope it will).

Why is Advertising (as an industry on the whole) still okay with being homophobic? Is everyone in the industry a giggling straight, white boy scared that gay can be "caught" like the flu, through certain activities and associations? Is Don Draper still in charge? It makes me crazy for so many reasons.

First, are straight men really all that freaked out by gay men, anymore? Survey says: Not the ones I know. The vast majority of my male friends are straight, and it just seems to me that they've all long ago moved on to real issues. It gets better for everyone, it seems.. well, mostly everyone. Not Foster's. Or Frito-Lay:

And nor Frito-Lay's parent company, Pepsico:

Why is ridiculing being gay still funny? Or rather, why do advertisers continue to insist that it is? I can't believe that no one working for these ad companies wasn't the tiniest bit offended by their employer's product? Really?

Well, some folks are speaking up. I had never heard of actor Avan Jogia (who looks to me in that picture  like a young Brendan Routh - I said, "don't get me started!"). In fact, the only credit on his IMDb page I recognize is the short-lived SyFy "Battlestar Gallactica" prequel, "Caprica." He is also apparently known for a Nickolodeon series. But I know his name now, and you should too. He's lent his opinion and talents to an anti-homophobia video for the non-profit Straight but Not Narrow (via):

I suggest you check out Straight but Not Narrow. They have a different straight ally opine every Friday.

Okay, I know... So how the hell in the name of sanity is an Ewok even remotely related to any of this?  Well, I will tell you. After seeing that Foster's commercial and deciding to make homophobic advertising tonight's topic (as well as creating a new label), I went in search of a rather specific image. I wanted either a can of Foster's or their logo inside a red circle with a line through it. You know, like Ghostbusters, but with Foster's instead of a ghost. Or a cigarette. Or Ugly Chicks.  I figured just about everything's out there, right? So I went to Google Images and searched "Foster's + 'no' symbol"). Google tried (I guess), but the random Ewok picture as the number 3 suggestion just kind of made my day. And it is on that very round-about ending of a story that I shall move on to other things, and let you do so as well.

More, anon.


Pax Romano said...

First, thanks for the shout-out.

As for those ads, frankly because of the thick Australian accents, I could barely make out what anyone was saying in the first one.

The second one, the guys in the car was probably the most offensive (smack your possibly gay friend in the face with a bag of chips).

The third one was sort of cute until they cut to the look on the two friend's faces...ah fark 'em all.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Gay people have become the dancing court jesters for the straight people. They laugh at us while they hold court and pass grapes around on platters and clap their hands and say, "Send in the gays. We need entertainment."

It's one of the things I struggle with. I've written several serious fantasy and sci-fi books with original plots and I honestly think that if they ever see the light of day, it will be with some backshelf publisher willing to take a risk with serious gay characters than a regular publisher who is interested in stocking the shelves with "chick lit".

Stephen said...

Your Activist buttons are being pushed these days.

The Advertising Industry needs to understand that they don't need to make fun of The Gays; The Gays are funny.

Mr. Knappy-Head said...

As a homo working in the advertising industry, I'm sorry to inform you that it rests a good 15 years behind the culture outside of its conference rooms, particularly the non-digital side of the business. And yes, it would not be far from the truth to say that most everyone who works on the creative side of the industry is at least pretending to be a giggling, white, straight boy, whatever his or her color, gender, or orientation.

Everyone wants an "edgy" ad campaign and in the minds of most clients and mediocre ad executives, that translates into adolescent jokes about sex, excrement and homos. Oddly enough, all this seems to have been fueled by the likes of movies like the Jackass series, which seems surprisingly devoid of homophobia.

Fortunately, the younger an ad industry creative is, the more likely he or she is to be baffled (if not offended) by homophobia expressed in marketing messages or around the office. But it's still very much a good-old-boy industry and change comes disappointingly slowly.

Just about 10 years ago, my former employer wanted to do some pro-bono work for a nice organization called Focus on the Family. When one (courageous, lesbian) creative director raised a ruckus, the initial reaction from our senior management was to tell us to shut up and do the work. Fortunately, they had also hired a staff full of smart people, many of whom were homos, like me. The project never went through, but only grudgingly did management agree to pull its plug.

Anyway: thanks very much for your post.

Mr. Knappy-Head

Prospero said...

Thanks for commenting MNH... your insight is appreciated (as well as your readership).