The rejection of two gay Superbowl spots this week has created quite the teacup tempest. Sure, CBS has an obviously anti-gay and hypocritical ad policy that allows them to “refuse political ads while” taking $2.5 million for Focus on the Family’s 30-second anti-abortion ad. Now the network’s trying to avoid a PR nightmare by allowing more “responsibly produced” advocacy ads. But the fact that ManCrunch.com, the hookup site that made one of the rejected gay ads, is now “calling on every same sex advocacy group to petition CBS and let them know this discriminatory behavior will not be tolerated” seems disingenuous. After watching the spot, I’m certain it’s not worth fighting for. And I’m absolutely positive ManCrunch never even expected their ad to air at all. Namely because it sucks so hard.
Most of the outrage surrounding CBS’ rejection of the ManCrunch ad goes “How dare they reject a gay ad?!!” Some critics, including this website, cited the United Church of Christ’s ad CBS rejected in 2004, which suggested that Jesus himself wouldn’t turn away gay worshippers, as evidence CBS was violating its own advocacy policies.
But what most of the peanut gallery misses entirely is how patently stupid ManCrunch’s ad is to begin with. For one, it makes hay out of a tired “comic” premise—WHAT?!? These two butch football fans are gay?!! NO WAY!!! That’s crazy! Forget that a Vikings fan and a Packers fan would never kiss on Super Bowl Sunday of all days, or that the blonde guy with the nice ass would never kiss the balding homely guy with the paunch without a lot of vodka.
But even the road signs behind them reek of stupid macho jokes:
a) NO ENTRY (like that dumb straight joke “my ass is ‘EXIT ONLY’”);
b) a stop sign pointing right between the two men (DON’T GO THERE, BOYS); and
c) a sign that reads “Caution: This equipment starts and stops automatically” with a brown cowboy cutout beside it. “Equipment” could equal “cock”, but maybe that’s a stretch.
Either way, the roadsigns evoke other manly things like driving and highway construction, adding to the butchness pervading the start of the commercial and feeding into the ad’s incredibly homophobic message. The ad’s subtext is that the mere touch of a man can turn gay even the most butch football fan, and that gays just can’t control themselves sex-wise—they’ll start humping each other anywhere—at a football game, in your living room, in front of your kids!!!
The men in the commercial don’t even have balls enough to actually kiss each other, they just neck like moronic sixth graders. And by the advertisement’s end, gay sex gets reduced (yet again) to a stupid and offensive punchline played up for gross-out factor and cheap laughs for a mostly straight audience. And who better to represent that audience surrogate than the black guy who’s so weirded out by the sight of gay love.
Granted, we’d be weirded out by any two ogres who started spontaneously dry humping next to us. But that the voyeur is black adds an unpleasant third layer to the ad. Nevermind the ugly specter of black homophobia; ManCrunch’s website says, “ManCrunch is the premier service connecting men with other men and allowing them to open up about the down low.”
Oh, the down-low, what a can of worms you are. The slang term referring about black guys who call themselves straight but have sex with men on the side. Even though the term refers to keeping their homosexual relationships on the “down-low” (that is, secret), the term carries the dual connotation that gay sex itself is a “down-low” dirty shame, a dishonest, disreputable secret. ManCrunch suggests you open up about your shame, all you closet bisexuals and unawakened homos who need only the caress of a man’s hand in a chip bowl to make you forget your heterosexual lifestyle.
Lastly, the commercial reeks of crap production value. The always pithy Michael K on Dlisted called it best: “ManCrunch’s commercial is almost as low budget as a Heidi Montag music video. It looks like it was shot on a Flip cam for a community college project.” The company’s only been around for a year and yet they claim to have spent $100,000 on the spot and raised over $40 million from investors, making them well-financed to have passed the Super Bowl’s credit hurdle. Uh-huh.
We’ve all been taken for a stupid and cynical ride, gays and straights alike. And in the process, blogs like this one and countless media outlets have given this moronic company much more press than a $2.5 million 30-second Super Bowl spot could have. Sandwiched between so many other “Look At Me!” ads, ManCrunch’s crappy uncreative ad would have had zero sticking power.
Instead, they’re now wearing the mantle of the latest victim of anti-gay media policies and will play that feigned martyrdom to make them seem more counter-cultural than they actually are. “Remember when courageous pranksters at ManCrunch stuck it to the homophobes at CBS by getting gay organizations to fight for the right to have gays on TV? That was badass.” Urm… no.
Instead, ManCrunch’s publicity stunt illustrates a problem with gay media in general. Are we so starved for representation on TV that we’ll fight for bad representation over none at all? Why should gay viewers and organizations feel outraged that such a measly crumb as theirs stays swept off the table? Make no mistake, ManCrunch’s ad is not even in the same solar system as United Church of Christ’s ad. It’s not even an advocacy ad at all because almost everything it promotes works against any positive step towards of homosexual acceptance. CBS should be commended for rejecting such a piece of crap — for its substance, not its message — and with any luck, ManCrunch.com will be dead within the year.
(NB: An interesting post-script to CBS’s ad conundrum: High-profile lawyer Gloria Allred has threatened to sue CBS if they air FOF’s pro-life ad for “false advertising,” as Tim Tebow’s mother, who says she refused to abort her baby despite doctors’ recommendations, couldn’t have had a abortion in the Philippines without facing prison time, since abortions there for any reason are illegal. Some choice. Allred seems pretty pleased with herself around the 0:38 mark in this interview after pointing out that she doesn’t care about CBS violating their own anti-advocacy, only about them running a misleading ad.)