Arts and Culture

Stupid ad of the week (from the archives): Overturn Prop 8

In the modern world, advertising is one of the most powerful tools available to get one's message out to the public. Urgent issues are spread wide through our wonderful super technology. But just because you can send a message out to millions of people simultaneously doesn't mean it's going to be effective. Such is the sad case with an ad you may remember for overturning Prop 8 in California.

Overturning Prop 8 allowed gays to marry in the state of California, but this ad shows just how entrenched discrimination can be, and still is, in most of the country.

There are two fundamental things wrong here. One, the ad starts out by addressing the 44 percent of Californians who believe homosexuals should not be allowed to marry, and then goes on to show, in intimate detail, the progression of a hypothetical gay marriage from idyllic beginning to depressingly monotonous stagnation. Now, how many homophobic Californians are going to sit through that in order to get to the final message? My guess is not many. Thus, the ad preaches to the choir of people who already agree with the ad's stance, which won't help convert any of the 44 percent.

The second, and probably worse thing, wrong with this ad is its ideological undertones, in how it portrays both marriage and non-married homosexuals. It presents marriage as something that is initially great, but that grows exponentially more shitty as time goes on, for everyone. The message being: gays aren't the problem, marriage is the problem. There is something wrong with society fundamentally, which may be true, but the statement about marriage is rife with stereotypical fodder.

Next, it presents the non-married, gay lifestyle as something to be avoided; something abhorrent to society, which in the ad is portrayed no differently than any young non-married heterosexual lifestyle: they play loud music and make out in public. But because it's two dudes, there's a problem, apparently.

The final message of the ad being: if you don't like gays kissing in front of you at the grocery store, make them get married and then they'll be miserable "like the rest of us" and they won't bother anyone. Like a distorted version of the proverbial "Not that there's anything wrong with that" clause, without knowing it the ad is actually subtly anti-gay.

To say "make them get married" reinforces the government's unwarranted and discriminatory power over gays that is no better than disallowing them to marry. To assert any legislation specifically geared toward a group of people based on their sexual orientation is wrong, and moving to the opposite extreme may be comical, but it doesn't escape the confines of discrimination. There is much work to be done.