Wednesday, November 26, 2008

When you say "that's so gay"...

"When you say 'that's so gay' do you realize what you say? Knock it Off."

Setting: A mall, a grocery store, a pizza place
The players: a group of girls or guys, a semi well-known actor or actress such as Hilary Duff or Wanda Sykes
The reason? A "think before you speak" ad asking, or rather, demanding, that the general public refrain from using the phrase "that's so gay".

Now, although this message is indeed an imporatant one, I think that there are many flaws in this ad. One, I feel that this ad is simply doing what it is trying to stop: it is associating the word "gay" with words such as "bad" or "stupid". In these ads, the famous character says something like "don't say something is gay when you mean it's (insert negative adjective here)". Now, in my mind, this is only telling me that the word gay is used to mean "bad or stupid" (even though gay is not even an adjective at all, but that is an entirley different battle). Second, saying "knock it off" at the end only makes me, as a consumer, feel a little threatend. I, personally, don't like when television ads/public service annoucement boss me around.

In short: good idea, bad advertisement. Then again, I don't have any better ideas, so who am I to critisize? I guess that's why I'm not on the career path to a job in advertising. My full (officially) quarter as a journalism student, however, has brought me to look at television ads with a much more critical eye (knowing that all ads must be relevent AND memorable, never either/or).

So what do you think? Let me know about some ads that you think are missing their mark, I'd love to hear it/discuss it with you.


Anonymous said...

Hey Heather, I just saw that ad at 4am while attempting to bang out two final papers that are due in about 4 hours... But i decided to google it because of course I'm procrastinating (being tired makes my work better... or so I hope) Anyway it brought a smile to my face because as a gay male surrounded by a circle of straight friends, I have heard that expression uttered at social gatherings followed by "I didnt mean it that way" or "No offense Duane" or alongside awkward silences and gazes in my general direction. ive done my best to pretend it doesnt bother me but honestly, it DOES. Saying something against it on my own would make me appear pretentious and others would feel uncomfortable around me so I have been forced to pretend that I am fine with it. In actuality, the commercial does not proliferate the expression- If the expression were "thats so black", "thats so jewish/catholic" or "thats so heather", a commercial pointing out that it is unacceptable would through comparison to the person saying it would merely point out its crudeness. An expression insinuating creed, gender, race, sexual orientation or any distinguishing characteristic as derogatory is always entirely unacceptable.

Heather Farr said...

Hi Duane!
I agree, the idea for the commercial is important and has a solid purpose; the fact that they compare using this "saying" to saying "that's so [insert something personal/offending to some one else] helps the general public see how it is hurtful and offensive for some to say it.

As a student studying journalism, however, I simply feel the ad could have been done better; the only line I have a problem with is "don't say something is gay when you mean it's 'dumb' or 'stupid' ". I feel, through a journalistic standpoint, that this could be re-worded or even left out. The comparison part, however, does exactly what it is meant to: allow others to see how it makes those affected by it feel.

Thank you for commenting! Also, I hope that soon every one can see how this phrase is offensive and hurtful to many.