The Plank

Quick, Do Something Manly!


While we're discussing potentially offensive Superbowl ads, what do gay
rights groups with tons of money on their hands spend their time doing?
Fighting against anti-gay ballot initiatives? No, condemning supposedly
homophobic television commercials.

A complaint from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the
ostensibly more serious Matthew Shepard Foundation, along with the Human Rights Campaign, condemned a Snickers ad
shown Sunday night. In the advertisement, two auto mechanics begin
eating a snickers bar from either end and wind up in a kiss, à la Lady
and the Tramp. Shaken, one of them tells the other, "Quick, do something
manly!" and, in response, the two tear out their chest hair. Call me an
insensitive snot, but I laughed hysterically.

GLAAD and the Shepherd Foundation "strongly
condemned elements" of the ad, and the president of GLAAD demanded that

Mars, Inc., needs to apologize for the deplorable actions of its Snickers
brand, immediately pull the "Wrench" ad and the offensive NFL players clips
from its Web site, and hold those within the company and at its ad agency
publicly accountable for promoting anti-gay prejudice and violence.

It ought to be clear that the advertisement is making fun of the lengths,
oftentimes ridiculous, some straight men will go to prove they're not gay.
The ad mocks those who are oversensitive about how they are
perceived--and for whom the vague order of "doing something manly" will
suffice to prove they're really into women, even if it includes ripping out
one's chest hair. Not to get too meta, but an anti-hirsute mentality is
hardly heterosexual, judging from the advertisements in gay newspapers and
magazines for all forms of hair removal. I'm not sure if that irony was
intended by the advertising company, but it was clearly lost on the gay
organizations, which, however well-meaning, have more important battles to
be fighting.

Andrew seems to agree with me, though differs on the web-only alternate endings, which included the men beating each other up. John Aravosis, he of "Stop Dr. Laura" fame, has a different view entirely. I can see how gay groups might be appalled at men reacting violently to a kiss, but, once again, is not homophobia the subject of mockery?

--James Kirchick

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