Quick, Do Something Manly!

by The New Republic Staff | February 6, 2007

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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