Anti-Gay Violence in Super Bowl Ads Still Not FunnyYou'd think after last year's Snicker's Super Bowl brouhaha that the NFL and advertisers in this year's big game would've gone out of their way to avoid anything that smacked of homophobia or involved physical violence against gays.
You'd think that, but you'd be wrong.
The worst example was an ad for Bridgestone Tires. The ad opens on a dark road as a car speeds through the night. Suddenly a deer appears in the car's headlights, but the driver expertly swerves the car and avoids the animal. Next Alice Cooper (inexplicably) appears in the headlights, and again the driver swerves to avoid him. Finally we see Richard Simmons jumping up and down in the road maniacally encouraging some non-existent ladies to exercise.
The camera cuts to the inside of the car, the driver's eyes widen in anticipation, he squeezes the steering wheel tightly and guns the engine. The car races toward Simmons who screams in terror as he realizes he is about to be run down. Only at the very last second does the driver veer away and avoid hitting Simmons.
My first thought was, "Does Richard Simmons have not a single shred of damn dignity?" I mean, he actually accepted this commercial gig that has him be an object of absolute total humiliation. How did that phone call from his agent work exactly? "Hey, Richard, it's really funny! Because you're out prancing in your shorts, you almost get run down by a driver who is driven insane by how annoying you are! Get it? Isn't that HILARIOUS? You're JUST THAT ANNOYING!!!"
A second later, I slipped on my AfterElton editor's cap and had a second thought, "It's 2008. Aren't we past this sort of stuff? Is anti-gay violence really something we should be joking about, given how prevalent it still is?"
Now it's true that Simmons has said many times that he isn't gay. Okay, fine. But everyone assumes he is anyway, thanks to his flamboyancy and effeminate demeanor. And the whole point of the ad is that someone with those characteristics is apparently worthy of being run over.
Am I misreading this? I admit that sometimes my AfterElton editor cap fits a little too tightly. But I can't shake the feeling that it means something pretty ugly that this commercial is apparently saying we shouldn't run over animals, or the equally odd Alice Cooper (caressing a snake, no less).
But Richard Simmons? Hey, he's fair game! In fact, running him over is an almost irresistible urge!
Maybe I was just in a bad mood because of another ad that ran earlier in the game. This was an ad for Fox's drama Prison Break. In the spot, several of the prisoners from the program are shown escaping through a tunnel when they pause beneath a grate above them.
In fact, he is staring right up at the backside of a football player which prompts him to salaciously say, "Hey, pretty." He climbs up onto the field, but before making good on his escape, he casts what appears to be a leering look at the players. Just then he is clobbered by another player and left lying motionless on the field.
What's the message here exactly? (Besides watch our show!) I doubt the ad's producers intended to say that men who express interest in other men deserve to get walloped, but it certainly reads that way.
One other spot also included a tiny amount of same-sex interaction. An ad for Dell Computers featured a handsome young man moving through the city streets. As he passes a well-built policeman directing traffic, he is suddenly patted on the rear by the officer.
The young man is surprised but doesn't seem offended. Nor does a car suddenly speed up and run the officer down for his same-sex transgression. Later a much older man also pats the young man on the rear and an attractive young woman kisses him all in apparent reaction to the fact that the man has purchased a Dell Computer. I didn't say the ad made sense.
But hey, kudos to Dell.
Not so much kudos for Bridgestone Tires and FOX's Prison Break, however. (And don't get me started on the misogyny in that horrible Planters Cashews ad where the "ugly" woman gets all that attention from men because she rubs cashews on herself.)
Look, every year waaaaaay too much ink is wasted on the "relevence" of this or that Super Bowl ad. They're just commercials, for God sakes. I get that, I really do.
But in an era where there's still not a single openly gay NFL player or coach, where homophobia is still far too common among too many of the players, it would sure be nice to watch the game one of these years and not see a gay-perceived person or character run over or beaten senseless.
This article is INSANE. Richard Simmons is fucking annoying, he's getting run over because he's obnoxious, not because he's gay. And T-Bag is a known killer and RAPIST! He's not gay or straight, he's a fucking psychopath! So what if a football player knocked him over? My god.