Activism Really Satisfies | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Activism Really Satisfies

Did you catch the Super Bowl Snickers commercial? I didn't see it, but all day I've been following the anger it's generating among gays and lesbians around the country. Frankly, I don't even care about football. But outrage over thoughtless, anti-gay advertising? That's worth watching.

The ad shows two grimy, blue-collar men working on a car together. One takes out a Snickers, and then both men begin eating different ends of the candy bar until their lips touch. It's like the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene—but instead of blushing and falling in love, the men register shock, revulsion, and in a panic they rip out their chest hair to prove how "manly" they still are.

Snickers has three versions of this commercial on their website, each with an alternate anti-gay ending. Visitors are supposed to vote for their favorite. One ending has the men drinking motor oil in order to, apparently, cleanse their mouths. Another—and this I find the most disturbing—shows one of the men smashing the other man's head under the car hood.

Almost immediately after the ads aired, bloggers widely condemned their homophobic message. One blogger aptly suggested that Snickers name its most violent version of the commercial the "Matthew Shepard" version. Leading gay and lesbian websites such as AfterElton.com also decried the ads.

Now, as I write this, about 24 hours after the ads originally aired, they appear to have been removed from the Snickers website. Is this in response to the anger and outrage? Did Mars, Inc. get hit by a cold shower of emails, phone calls and wakeup to the fact that gay bashing just isn't funny? I hope so.

Three cheers for the First Amendment. Advertisers have the freedom to say what they will, and I'd defend with my life their right to say it. But it's my First Amendment too, and one way I used it today was by calling the Snickers consumer hotline to tell them what I thought of their ad. Apparently many, many others did as well, and hopefully people still are right now.

The Super Bowl is over (so I'm told). The struggle for equality and respect, though? That's the American pastime that never ends. If you'd like to play, give Snickers a call and let them hear your voice: 1-800-627-7852.

Previous Comments

ID
110363
Comment

Three cheers for the First Amendment. Advertisers have the freedom to say what they will, and I'd defend with my life their right to say it. But it's my First Amendment too, and one way I used it today was by calling the Snickers consumer hotline to tell them what I thought of their ad. You're right, Brent. Speech flows many directions. And the right to respond to disturbing speech is the part of the First Amendment that people too often forget. I'll never forget John Stossel whining about women protesting his statements on a campus. Somehow, he thought that was violating his free-speech rights.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-02-05T19:58:09-06:00
ID
110364
Comment

I so agree, Donna. In some other countries, the State is expected to regulate speech. It's often called the Nanny State because its citizens are treated like children who can't hear or say certain things lest they offend. In America, offending comes along with the First Amendment. So people speak back, challenge, argue, disabuse and persuade. It makes you downright patriotic, eh?

Author
Brent Cox
Date
2007-02-05T20:05:02-06:00
ID
110365
Comment

Update: Snickers Pulls Controversial Ad But No Apology

Author
Brent Cox
Date
2007-02-06T12:01:34-06:00
ID
110366
Comment

Brent, I saw that ad during the Superbowl and gave it the proverbial finger. That is how I deal with ads with hateful messages. I should have done more, glad to know Snickers pulled it.

Author
Izzy
Date
2007-02-06T12:06:47-06:00
ID
110367
Comment

I was with a table of gay men and a lesbian and we all fell out laughing. I thought it was hilarious and we were hardly offended... If anything, I think it's more offensive to hetero men. It surely paints them in the light of, say, a Neanderthal that can't recognize the difference between casual interaction and sexuality. Was it anti-gay or was it highlighting ignorant responses in straight men and how far they'll go to prove their manhood? Guess that's up for interpretation.

Author
kaust
Date
2007-02-06T15:36:05-06:00
ID
110368
Comment

Was it anti-gay or was it highlighting ignorant responses in straight men and how far they'll go to prove their manhood? Guess that's up for interpretation knol I think both, and you made a darn good observation because any issues with the ad flew over my head when I saw it. I just thought it was one of the weaker ads, next to the "face slap" replacing the high-five.

Author
pikersam
Date
2007-02-06T15:51:20-06:00
ID
110369
Comment

As far as the "hood" scene, it's actually described as "Wrench" and involves them saying, "Do something manly" followed by one guy grabbing a wrench and hitting the other in the belly. Then, as trade, the other guy slams his head under the hood (WILLINGLY). I don't see gay bashing... I see a straight male response to an encounter where they ABUSE THEMSELVES. I think this is the key difference. They aren't beating the hell out of each other unwillingly. They aren't even being hateful. At the end of "Wrench", the guy under the hood gives a thumbs-up. What would have been more interesting rather than pulling the ads? Having a "gay alternate ending" where the mechanics fall in love and end up driving the repaired car to a gay pride parade or something similarly as cheesy and outlandish as straight men downing motor oil. Of course, it would have to be entertaining and surreal to match the "manly" reactions. Then, obviously, the public could decide the fate of the characters.

Author
kaust
Date
2007-02-06T16:19:31-06:00
ID
110370
Comment

You make a good point, Knol, about the subjective interpretation of the commercial that aired. It's that very subjectivity, though, that allows some viewers to identify with the homophobic mechanics. They laugh, but they laugh in that "Ain't it true" way as they admit that they'd rather drink motor oil or have their heads bashed in than kiss another man. For such men, the Snickers ad is an affirmation of their bigotry.

Author
Brent Cox
Date
2007-02-06T16:54:52-06:00
ID
110371
Comment

But why is it always ugly men that get to do the kissing and anti-gay antics. Why isn't it ever, say, two really hot men like roofers for instance doing the funny kissing antic while.....shirtless and....on break or like the Pepsi man in the famous construction site commerical called 4:15 or something.....when all the secretaries line up in the windows to watch him drink the POP with his shirt off.... these guys playing in traditional "hetro" roles while touting products can be hot...but pull an anti-gay set up and they have to be toads..... maybe Falcon ought to make a commercial for the Stupid Bowl....I'll bet there wouldn't be any Matthew Sheppard comments then. There is nothing more arousing, they say, to straight men than watching two women kissing......I imagine there is nothing more terrifying to two striaght women than watching two hot men doing the same..........intimidating to say the least. God knows what a scene like that would do to the average straight Joe....and I mean two HOT men.....................just thinking out loud.....

Author
ATLExile
Date
2007-02-06T17:38:47-06:00
ID
110372
Comment

I know I am going to slammed on this, but I need an appropriate answer when I get asked by my kids about this. "What's the big deal?" Even if it is a little homophobic, "If I want to be homophobic then I can talk about it too." Not to say I am as homophobic as some of those around me, but if I am, "so what!" Does that mean I will allow that to effect my "EOE" or where I plan to eat tonight, expell my brother from the family because he is gay? No. I think that sensitivity on both ends is called for.

Author
wade G.
Date
2007-02-07T10:43:10-06:00
ID
110373
Comment

People must be free to be hold their own beliefs, including beliefs critical of gays and lesbians. And not just hold those beliefs, but to talk about them, even to vigorously advocate that others adopt them. That freedom is everyone's First Amendment right. But no one was challenging Snickers' right to speech. We were challenging the anti-gay content of the expression, urging Snickers to realize the impropriety of that content and to pull the ads out of respect for the rights and safety of gay Americans. Because homophobia really is a 'big deal,' Wade, and thats what I hope you'll tell your children when they ask you about this. Let them know that beliefs rarely exist in some theoretical vacuum of the intellect. They guide our actions. Homophobic families do disown their gay members. Homophobic bosses do discriminate against their gay employees. Homophobic police officers, such as those M.B.N. officers, do assault gays and lesbians simply for being gay.

Author
Brent Cox
Date
2007-02-07T13:07:02-06:00
ID
110374
Comment

I understand that homophobia can be an illogical response to the unknown realm. However I still think some may see the response to the Snickers promotion as a little extreme, and may in many case hurt your cause more than help it. In many persons cases the ingrained attitudes, and moreas, (whatever you call it) are so in interlocked with thier personal identites that homophobia is almost an instinctual response. Therefore it would be seen as pointless to appear to overreact to the issue an further alienate the very persons your are trying to reach. Pick your battles.

Author
wade G.
Date
2007-02-08T13:33:04-06:00

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