This Christmas was a bright spot for gay characters depicted realistically in commercials … except in Australia, where the supermarket ALDI ran a spot featuring a family of Americans who resist Australian holiday traditions until they finally give in.
The problem with the ad — if it really is a problem — is the dad character, who is so obviously a swishing mincing flaming stereotype, the simplest of stock-queers
He pops out of a closet and throws confetti like Rip Taylor. He spies on a neighbor in a thong and makes sexy-pervert eyes at him. He toasts a beer with pinky outstretched. ALDI could not have made him more obviously, patronizingly gay if they put him in heels.
And you know, if that was all they did, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. For sure, it’s annoying to see that tired trope again. But it’s the supermarket’s behavior after the ad aired that’s a much bigger problem.
When a viewer complained about the lame stereotype, the supermarket defended themselves with an obvious lie that’s far more insulting than the ad.
“The character who the complainant refers to is playing the husband of the mother of the three children,” wrote someone at the company. “ALDI does not consider that the character is portrayed as an ‘identifiably gay individual.’”
Ugh come on you guys. There’s just no way to believe that ALDI didn’t recognize that this character checks every single checkbox used to make fun of gays. Australia may be far away, but it’s not on another planet.
But alas, Australia’s broadcast standards organization sided with the store. “The man the complainant refers to is clearly presented as the husband and father of 3 children and considered that his behaviour is over the top and exaggerated but not intended to be representative of a gay man,” wrote the Ad Standards Board.
Right. Because no queer man has ever been married to a woman and fathered children.
The commercial is bad, but ALDI and the ASB are far, far worse.