Let’s Talk Semantics 4: Gay

February 22, 2011 § 12 Comments

I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while. Apparently this ad campaign has been running for at least 2 years (at least, that’s when it was added to YouTube), but it hasn’t started making its rounds to this part of town until right around the Super Bowl.

Just in case you haven’t seen it (and, really, even if you have), take a gander:

I am sick to death of people, especially young people, using the word “gay” as an insult. I hear it at least once a day just by walking through the halls. More often than not, I hear it from the mouths of young men rather than from young women, but I am not foolish enough to believe that it’s just a male problem. In fact, before I left Facebook, I remember seeing young people attempt to “pretty it up” by spelling it differently. Surely, changing the spelling to “ghey,” for instance, entirely shifts the meaning away from a connotation to imply homosexuality and instead suggests that the meaning is entirely dependent upon spelling.

Of course.

So, to appease the Grande Wanda Sykes (who I utterly adore), perhaps the young men should have corrected her assumption and said, “No no, you thought we said G-A-Y. We actually said G-H-E-Y.” Yeah. That’s better.

When did this happen? I have no memory from high school of hearing people exclaim that something was “gay” when they thought it was stupid or weird or whatever. The scapegoat term then was “retarded,” which apparently has become so sinister in usage that I have even heard really young people (like…middle-school-aged) call it “the r-word.” It took me a while before I realized what word they meant. Obviously I would never condone the use of “retarded” to stand in to mean anything except in a medical sense preceded by the word “mentally” (although…is this no longer standard? I know the acceptable term is “developmentally delayed”…but as a former musician, I can’t help but be reminded of ritard to mean “slow” or ritardando for “slowing down”…”retarded” just has a different connotation to my ear, I suppose).

I suppose young people have likely always bastardized the meanings of other words to replace “stupid.”

There’s something rather despicable, of course, when the word derives original meaning from the description of a person or people. (Hell, even “gypped” is pretty disgusting, since it is derived from “gypsy.”) I suppose what makes the use of “gay” for this purpose topically offensive is that we are currently in a tumultuous, confused, and troubling argument in regards to gay rights. When young people use the word “gay” to mean “stupid,” they are not only insulting an entire portion of the world’s population (both past and present). Sadly, it’s not just about insults, Madame Sykes. Rather, the use of the word “gay” in this context degrades people while simultaneously shutting down the entire discourse before it has a chance to really get its legs beneath it. “That’s so gay [or ghey or whatever],” halts all discussion. Regardless if it’s said in a positive (which is rare) or negative (more common) context, that phrase at all generalizes, stereotypes, and ignores an entire group of people.

So, what do we do about it? We shut down the insulters. Like the ad campaign concludes, we tell them to “knock it off.” Even if it’s not our kid, not our conversation, not our battle, we make it known that that phrase is not appropriate.

Look, if you’re going to degrade something, really degrade it. And do it with class without dragging an entire group of people into it!

Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.
(from All’s Well That Ends Well)

That Shakespeare, he really knew how to zing ’em!

Where were you when Ozzy dissed the Biebs?

February 6, 2011 § 2 Comments

Oh, Ozzy. You may be getting older and increasingly less intelligible, but you still got it, man. You still got it.

Also, I have always adored Sharon, and I think I always will.

Another favorite Super Bowl commercial:

Poor Peppers. He had a sneeze in his nosey that he just couldn’t get out.

We’re taking the canines to the vet on Friday for round two of their flu vaccine. I may not “believe” in the flu vaccine myself (I just don’t think it’s worth the money and impending illness…), but when our vet (who is fairly conservative when it comes to medical treatments) recommended that we vaccinate the dogs, we decided to go along with it. So, a few weeks ago, Annie and Milt had their first round of the flu vaccine and they get their second round on Friday. Really, this is best for dogs who come in contact with other dogs on a regular basis, which describes Milt and Annie pretty well–we like to take them to the park, now that the weather has started to warm up, plus they have some doggy friends that they like to play with. I would feel terrible if my dogs got one of my friends’ dogs sick with the flu. So, protecting our dogs also helps to protect their dogs.

And, just for good measure, one more commercial that just absolutely tickles me every single time:

L’eggo My Eggo: the stupid husband phenomenon

February 4, 2011 § 7 Comments

Perhaps you have seen Eggo’s latest ad campaign in which they introduce their new slogan: “So simple you could make them yourself; so delicious you don’t have to.”

If you’re not familiar with this commercial, take a gander here:

Seems innocuous enough, yes? So, what’s A.Hab. got her knickers in a wad for?

What bothers me about this commercial (and yes, others like it) is that it plays into what I call the “stupid husband phenomenon.” I don’t know when this started, but I have become increasingly aware of it in the past, oh, ten years or so. I don’t know how it started, but that hardly seems important. What is important is that this commercial (and the others like it) employs a little tactic where they write a part for a smart, talented, beautiful wife…and her lumbering oaf of a husband.

In this commercial, the husband offers to give his wife an extra 30 minutes in the morning, treating her with breakfast. Wifey seems thrilled by the prospect, happily rolling over and snuggling his newly-abadoned pillow. Hubby behaves as though he’s getting away with something. A little b-ball, a little golf in the kitchen; before he knows it, the 30 minutes he promised her is near up. Uh-oh! Better get those Eggos into the toaster and quick!

All righty, folks, let’s break this down, shall we?

1. As any married person or anyone living with someone else will tell you, getting an extra half hour in the morning is among the best gifts a partner can give. When Robert gives me a kiss and says, “You stay here. I’ll take care of the dogs this morning,” and shuts the bedroom door behind him…what do I do? I go right back to sleep, happily in love with my awesome “30 more minutes” giving husband. Do I care what he does after he feeds the dogs and takes them out? Nope. He could watch television, tool around on his laptop; I really don’t care. I just got 30 extra minutes! So, why does Eggo’s hubby act like he’s getting away with putzing around the house? (As my dad might call it.) His wifey probably doesn’t care. And why doesn’t she? Well, that leads me to my second point.

2. How did those sneaky little Eggos make it into the freezer, folks? Did hubby dash out to the store and surreptitiously bring them into the house, carefully covert? No…he was spending his 30 minutes playing kitchen golf. Those Eggos made it into the house because someone purchased them and brought them home. Is it possible that wifey wasn’t with her husband when the waffles were purchased? Sure. Robert sometimes has to go grocery shopping without me. But is it likely that she wouldn’t have seen them? They have two kids, so she’s probably making breakfasts on weekday mornings (hence the thrill at sleeping in one more half hour). Wifey knows about those waffles, folks. And if she knows about the waffles, why would she have a problem consuming them? She bought them (or at least hubby did); it’s not like it’s a great conspiracy. When hubby tells wifey that he’s going to take care of breakfast and wants her to wait about half an hour, she doesn’t care about what he does with that half hour because either way she’s getting some extra dozing time and breakfast. She’s already won!

The commercial ends with hubby acting like a moron when wifey asks if there is coffee. She already knows there’s no coffee–she nods and has a particular little grin on her face, both suggesting this might be a normal lapse in his memory. Maybe she’s always the one to prepare their morning coffee. Hubby says “yes,” and then quickly, “I will.” Why did he say “yes” in the first place? Why not just say, “I will”? Or, “Oops! I knew I forgot something!” Or any myriad other responses. Why lie? Because he’s a moron, folks. That silly husband. And that funny, smart, beautiful wife. She is so patient with him.

Why are there so many ads that employ this particular tactic? Does it actually sell the product better? The oafish husband is such a tired trope at this point–of all my married friends (and family), I have yet to encounter a truly oafish husband like the ones I see on television. The husbands I’ve encountered are intelligent, caring, and loving. They take pride in providing for their families; hell, they take pride in their families. Let’s just start there. I know that we women tend to joke that our husbands don’t “get” us and that, oh, sometimes we have to repeat ourselves because they weren’t listening the first, second, or third time. But, uh, Robert has repeated himself, too. I space out, too. I get distracted, too. There are times when I don’t “get” what he’s talking about or why he cares about something. Am I a stupid, air-headed wife? Absolutely not.

You know what would really speak to me as an audience member? I would respond quite well to an ad campaign where the husband is depicted as loving his wife and making deliberately thought-out decisions that demonstrate just how much pride he takes in his family.

I understand that Kellogg’s just wanted to make people laugh. I get that. But what are we left laughing at? And at whose expense? It leaves me wondering precisely what they ultimately advertised: their waffles or sexism?

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with ad campaigns at A.Hab.'s View.