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This here is a low traffic blog on topics close to my heart. As such, comments and engagement on old posts are always welcome and will be responded to. Except! for comments on old posts telling me to lighten up, not take things so seriously, or let things go, 'cause that shit's just plain ironic. Those comments will get a suggestion to visit Derailing for Dummies.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Advertising that Makes Deviant E Get All Cranky

Sorry for the long absence.

So let's jump right in with two examples of advertising that creeped me out and pissed me off (for very similar reasons) without them showing or saying a single negative thing.

We'll start off with a Brawny Towel ad with an animated lumberjack singing "Lean On Me"

as always, click on the cut link for as complete a transcript as I can make.

Next we have a Macy's ad for jewelry, with the song "Seasons of Love" being sung in the background.

as always, click on the cut link for as complete a transcript as I can make.

So, what creeps me out and pisses me off about these two ads? It has something to do with the idea of taking songs from oppressed groups and putting them into your advertising, and in the process making invisible their origins.
"Lean on Me" was written in 1972. It is a song written by a Black man, in the Soul genre, at a time just following the organized Civil Rights movement. It's a song about community and the strength and power that can be found when people rally together.
The voice in the advertisement sounds stereotypically "Black" and is singing in the genre that the song comes from. Yet they have a White lumberjack as the animated icon portrayed as singing it. They took a song that could reasonably be seen as a song about the strength of social movements, and erased the Black origin of it, and put it into a fucking Paper Towel ad. I suppose I'm meant to be grateful that they included a Black family in the footage? That pisses me off and creeps me out. And of course, they screwed around with the lyrics in the process so that they could do this.
"Seasons of Love" was written for the musical Rent. It's a musical about AIDS. It has numerous gay characters. Seriously, out of a main cast of 7-8 people, 4 of them are in same-gender relationships.
In the advertisement, is there a single gay couple depicted? Nope. There are numerous romantic couples depicted, and not a single gay one amongst them. The ad writers took a song that is couched in the AIDS epidemic (at the time it was written, primarily associated with gay men), and somehow manage to take away all reference to gayness in the advertisement.

Neither of the ads was explicitly racist or homophobic. But by their decision to make things more "universally appealing," they took songs from particular oppressed groups and put them in the mouths of their oppressors. They took something away from the Black community and the Gay community and gave it to Whites and Straights. If we(gays)/they(Black people) aren't good enough to be the icons of your feel good advertising, then you get no fucking right to our creative endeavors.

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