I’ll admit that I don’t understand what was so offensive about the Snickers commercial that ran during the Super Bowl. The company has pulled the ad because some gay advocacy groups complained that it was homophobic.
This is the ad that showed two men working on a car. One of them takes out a Snickers bar, sticks it in his mouth and starts chewing from one end. The other mechanic leans over, bites on the other end, and they chew towards the middle until their lips touch. They reel back in shock and one of them says, “I think we just accidentally kissed.” The other replies, “Quick, do something manly,” and the two proceed to rip off some chest hair.
It may be only mildly amusing, but where’s the offense? Neither of them says anything negative about gay men — they simply act the way many men would act if they accidentally kissed someone on the mouth. That doesn’t mean they’re against other men doing it, it’s just that the act feels out of place. Are they not allowed to feel uncomfortable in that circumstance?
Let’s change the scenario. Make one of the men gay, and the other person a lesbian (of course, you can’t tell their sexual orientation simply by looking at them, so let’s make it two people who are already out, like Carson Kressley and Rosie O’Donnell). He has no interest in kissing a woman, she has no interest in kissing a man. Yet their lips touch, and they recoil.
What’s the difference? Does that mean they hate heterosexuals? Absolutely not, anymore than the Snickers spot is about two guys who hate gays. In fact, it’s about two guys who are morons, and nothing more.
Besides, the entire premise is a direct rip-off of a famous scene from “Planes Trains & Automobiles“…
Are Steve Martin and John Candy homophobic, too? Should that film be removed from circulation? Of course not. This is just another case of people who are looking to be offended, and they were.
I’m with Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of Outsports.com, a website for gay sports enthusiasts, who told USA Today that he saw the Snickers ad at a Super Bowl party with 30 gay friends, and none of them had a problem with it: “I just don’t see how a couple of mechanics pulling out chest hair because they kissed is offensive.”
Meanwhile, an Imo’s Pizza ad has been pulled off local St. Louis TV stations because of bad timing. The spot, which was shot months ago, shows a prison inmate breaking out to get Imo’s Pizza. He meets an Imo’s delivery guy outside the prison, takes the pizza and says, “Same time next week,” before slipping back to his cell to enjoy his meal.
So, what’s the timing problem?
The commercial debuted just a couple of weeks after the arrest of Michael Devlin, the man accused of kidnapping and sexual assault in the Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby cases. Devlin was the manager of an Imo’s Pizza place in Kirkwood. Even though Hornbeck’s family and their attorney all say they’re not offended by the spot, Imo’s has yanked it anyway out of sensitivity for the situation. You can’t blame them for not wanting their business associated with that case anymore than it already is.
Update 2/8/07 10:50am: Now a suicide-prevention group is insisting that General Motors pull their commercial that shows an assembly line robot making a mistake and getting so upset that it dreams of jumping off a bridge. The group says the ad may encourage people to commit suicide as a solution to their problems. As of this morning, GM is refusing to yank the spot. I hope no one at the suicide-prevention group gets so depressed about this that they end up doing something desperate, like getting a freakin’ life.
Updated 2/13/07 11:38am:GM has buckled to the pressure and pulled the robot spot.
In their honor, here’s the spot…