Monday, February 6, 2012

Out of the closet, into the pool

I do not know quite how it escaped my frame of conscience, but in the regular onslaught of Superbowl commercial freneticism, I came across one ad from LAST year that I had not ever even seen. The ad, linked here, was a Doritos commercial which aired one year ago (today?) The advertisement brings up a variance of feelings in me that made me want to explore them and I thought that this entry might be just the way to do so.
At first glance, the commercial struck me as exciting. Not only were the featured men, admittedly, attractive...but it quickly became evident that they provided an image of gay men in prime time commercial space. Very rarely, if ever, are queer people represented in outings of the hairy-forearm, chest-bump, burp-monopoly that is frequently stereotyped within the Superbowl watching cliche. However, here before our very eyes were two proud and open gay men who were simply out to have a good time having a little fun with a neighbor girlfriend. Exciting, right? If so, then both my sub-conscience (and the inexplicable trust you put into my blog before even one post, spoke too soon).
As I thought more and more about this commercial (definitely more than the seemingly unassuming 30-second advertisement, itself) it became clear that it is at LEAST as damaging as it is positive. In the video, we need to remember that the men represented are portraying yet another gay stereotype of a hyper-feminized man wearing little clothing and bitching with any girl who will listen to his sass. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing wrong with the cliche...flame it up in my opinion. My problem lies in the contextualization of this stereotype which makes it impossible for those saturated in its likeness to escape its simplistic degradation. Further, in this commercial, gay men legitimately become a THREAT TO HETEROSEXUALITY. Not only that, but it seems as though questioning the girl's assumed boyfriend's sexuality was the intent all along. So now I, as a homosexual, am not even a problem...but a legitimate enemy? Has [insert GOP candidate here] been right this whole time? Is my life a mission to uproot the institution of marriage?! Yep. ...That's why I've spent the last eight years of my life trying to figure out how to earn the privilege.
Even more disappointing than the commercial itself was, in fact, its time slot. Because this commercial was exposed to arguably the most incredibly heteronormative group that has ever been assembled, straight men across America were instilled with a perpetuation that gay men are, at best, the butts of hurtful and historically perpetuated jokes and, at worst, viable threats to heterosexuality. I really, really, cannot wait for the time where we can get a varied approach or dialogue on this topic into the true mainstream...maybe that way, the ideas themselves can become mainstream.
Well guess what, straight men, I personally like you...but not enough to put that much effort into it. If you want to trim the hedges between your yard and gaze at me laying by the pool, I will not even question you. But please, please, please do not mistake me as an enemy or assume you know me because of the "culture" you gained from the most expensive commercial time frame ever. And for the love of all that is good in this world, keep your hands off of my Doritos.

--Kile Akerman

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