The real significance of the Snickers’ Super Bowl ad last Sunday was not whether it was pro or anti-gay.
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Rather, it was in the power of gay advocates to choose which label would prevail.
But first, was is pro or anti-gay?
Although many people thought the ad was an insult to gays, it really wasn’t. Rationale is threefold.
First, the characters in the ad functioned as reverse role models in that their comical, low-brow reaction to the slightest suggestion of homosexuality would incline viewers to an opposite opinion.
Second, few things signal mainstream acceptance of something more than the freedom to ridicule its detractors.
Third, comedy is a proven technique for sidestepping taboos.
In the end though, it doesn’t make any difference whether the ad was pro or anti-gay. Gays scored by showing they had the power to determine how the ad should be understood– and they prevailed.
Black leaders exercised that power when they demanded (and got) people to call them “Negro” instead of “nigger,” then “African-American” instead of “Negro,” and then “Black” instead of “African American.” (They even caused a white staffer working for then DC Mayor Anthony Williams back in 1999 to resign, not for uttering a taboo word, but for using the word “niggardly”– a word that was simply suggestive of a taboo word.)
Gays have apparently achieved that kind of power. All they have to do is label something as offensive and it’s banned from the public square. The fact that the alleged offense is hardly offensive– as with “niggardly” and the Super Bowl ad– just makes the exercise of power all the more dramatic.