Thursday, February 08, 2007


apparently, there are people in the world who get irritated even more easily than i do.

and you can find them right here, bitching about a snickers ad aired during the superbowl, which they considered offensive and discriminatory toward gay people.

here's the commercial, in case you missed it:

and you might want to go ahead and watch it, because if you didn't see it sunday, you never will.
snickers has decided to pull the ad campaign--throwing millions of dollars straight into the garbage--in order to stop the bitchery.

you should really go read that article--it is well written, and the author does make some good points. well, kind of.

the thing is, i find the whole thing a little...ridiculous.

don't get me wrong.
i'm not a supporter of hate-language or gay-bashing or any other such nonsense.
in fact, i've cut people off at my bar more than once just because i heard them say the word 'fag.'

but, did we really have to toss this commercial in the trash can?

was it really that offensive?

i guess it's a tricky question. this thing we call 'good taste' exists precariously atop a very thin and fluid line. walking the line is a tightrope act--one that only gets trickier when we're dealing with hot-button issues like discrimination and hate-speak.

but, when i saw the commercial?
i felt that they were making fun of the homo-phobia of the men--not making fun of being gay, or assserting that being gay is 'gross.' i mean, the men look ridiculous! they look like morons. (they also look like they could use a bath. and maybe a visit with these guys.)

it ocurred to me later, after hearing about the controversy, that maybe most people wouldn't have interpretted the commercial the same way that i did. i mean, i'm not homo-phobic. in fact, i find homo-phobia ridiculous, and so i found the humor in the men's reaction and saw the commercial that way. i suppose if you are one of the millions of people out there who does think being gay is 'disgusting,' then it would be a totally different commercial to you.

it reminds me of the problem with sasha baron cohen, who takes on the persona of characters like ali g and borat, and uses humor to illuminate some of the darker tendencies of society, disguising himself in comedy to take our attention away from the mirror he's holding up right in front of our faces.

take the following clip, from cohen's show on hbo:

now, our higher sensibilities would initially be offended by the premise here--i mean, we're not *supposed* to laugh at things like anti-semitism, right?

the thing is, cohen is jewish himself, and this particular clip might be the best example of the aim of his comedy: to show how quickly you can get people to engage in hateful behavior. with ali g, it was to uncover the disdain and lack of respect that 'adults' (mainly those in high positions--governmental officials, members of nasa, media bigwigs, etc) hold toward the youth of the world. with borat, he uses the disguise of an ethnicity most of us would assume to be exactly as he plays it--a little backwards, a little sexist, you know the drill--to get 'us' to engage in the very behavior we find so dreadful when displayed in the form of 'the other.'

the clip above is the perfect example: borat shows up in a country bar, and after 20 seconds he has an enire bar full of people singing 'throw the jew down the well so my country can be free.'

it's ugly, but the point is made. we laugh, but we also get a twinge of disgust. it's funny, but it's also really sad.

personally, i think cohen is a genius.
but, i understand the problem that some people have with him: what about the people who don't get the joke?
what about the people who watch borat talking about his fat wife fulling the plow through the field, about how he bought her from her father for 3 gallons of incesticide, and the never ending pile of other sexist things he says, and then laugh because they think it's funny on the surface--without getting the deeper meaning.

in that sense, i can see why people might have a problem with the snickers superbowl commercial. the millions of men out there who watched and made a face like this one

are a problem. they are the types who don't get the joke.

but should snickers have to trash the commercial for them?

i mean, as sad as it is, straight men are allowed to be disgusted by watching 2 men kiss. i mean, i'm disgusted if i see my parents making out, but that doesn't mean that i think being hetero-sexual is wrong.

it seems to me that this commercial is not the breeder of negativity that these people thought it was.

but, i guess just like there will always be people who don't get the joke, there will always be people who can't take the joke.


Blogger A Family's Year of Living Green said...

When I saw that commercial I thought it was making fun of the stupidity of homophobes too. How was that even confused? What isn't stupid about ripping out ones own chest hair?

1:00 PM  
Blogger whimsicalnbrainpan said...

I got the joke and not only thought about it making fun of homophobes but it reminded me of that scene in Lady and the Tramp. I'm surprised Disney didn't try and sue them for it.

4:00 PM  
Anonymous Lady S said...

My husband saw the Lady and the Tramp thing too. I just got caught up in why would anyone join someone else in eating a candy bar? I love my husband, I kiss him and stuff, but I would never eat something with him like that. What the?

I thought it was a little crazy that the (as I heard it) Gay and Lesbian Anti-Defimation League made them pull the ad, but I am not a minority, so I don't know how it feels.

I just thought it was a stupid ad.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I must admit, I spent a few long hours arguing with a certain opinionated someone about this topic and find that I am less clear about the issue than before. The problem is, there are people who don't get the joke and unfortunately take fiction for reality (i.e. hate-speak and violent behavior in movies/music). So, with this tight rope, where do things like Borat the Movie fall? While you or I (or your readers) may be smart enough to know the difference, what is to be done about Joe Schmoe who doesn't? As intelligent as Borat is, does it propogate hatred? I on't know.... Curious about your thoughts.

Oh, and i too thought the ad was stupid and pointless.

10:43 PM  
Blogger D.B. Echo said...

Waaah, my comment last night got et.

Short version: My favorite bit in that episode of Ali G was just before the sing-along, when Borat went to visit Porter Waggoner to get tips on how to be a country & western singer. Porter Waggoner simply wore Borat down with his unflappable politeness and graciousness. In the end, I think Cohen simply gave up - and a twinkle in Waggoner's eye suggested he had seen through the joke all along.

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought the commercial was hilarious. I never even gave it a second thought as to how everyone else would react. I thought it was funny, made fun of machoism and stuff like that. Pulling it, to appease a certain group? What's next, no ads with cute babies because a group of sterile folks are offended. No ads for soda because the diabetics are offended. Or no more ads for... well you get my point.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous batman said...

throw the jews down the well so my country can be free!

you're smart & sweet, ain't i lucky?

9:34 PM  

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