Friday, February 09, 2007

Snicker Doodle Dandy

Much has been made over the Superbowl Snickers ad, so I figured I would add my two cents. First and foremost, the ad quite simply wasn't funny. It features two men, desperate to enjoy a delicious candy bar, who pull a Lady and the Tramp and find themselves almost kissing. To "atone" for this mishap, they decide to do something manly, which apparently equates to pulling out large clumps of chest hair. The ad was derided as being homophobic, and subsequently pulled from the air. What interests me about the ad is that there is nothing inherently homophobic about it---the point of the joke is that two people are kissing who shouldn't be. Given that it is a 30-second spot with limited time for character development, showing two guys kissing is the most effective way to communicate the joke. (Two girls and it would be a beer commercial) If the joke were used for a sitcom, it could just have easily been a brother and sister, or simply two friends. Any homophobia is contextually conferred by those who are viewing it. This speaks to the truth that the culture we live in remains predominantly homophobic. It is very easy to live in a liberal bubble, read the New York Times, watch the Daily Show, and forgot that the vast majority of Americans don't think like you do. This was manifest in yet another homophobic incident this week. After retired NBA player John Amaechi came out, Philadelphia player Shavlik Randolph commented " "As long as you don't bring your gayness on me I'm fine" reducing sexual orientation to a communicable disease and hearkening back to a time when AIDS was more commonly known as GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) Remember, roughly 6 out of 10 Americans do not approve of gay marriage. Steven Colbert claims he doesn't see color, and only knows he is white because people tell him so. Hopefully, one day, we will arrive at a point where we don't see sexual orientation as.the salient characteristic of a human being. But it sure seems to be a long way off when we see it in a candy bar.


Deborah said...

Matt--your comment about "two people kissing that shouldn't be" could be seen by some as homophoblc. The NFL knew its audience and pandered to it with skewed views of what it is to be "manly" in our culture thereby creating a subtext of unmanliness which many equate with being gay. ~mom

Matt said...

This actually goes to my point--the ad makes it very clear that the guys involved aren't happy to be kissing--and this could be the case for many, many reasons. It is the viewer that judges this revulsion to be due to fears of homosexuality. Admittedly, I'm playing Devil's Advocate here, but my point was that Snickers is taking advantage of an unfortunate societal norm, and rather than spending our energy castigating them we should look at why that norm still exists to be exploited in what we claim is a modern society.