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Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States

The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Chrysler hates fags

You may have had the same reaction to the new Dodge Caliber commercial as I did. I thought, "Wow. Dodge undoubtedly spent too much money producing that rather lame effort." But according to Bob Garfield, it's much more sinister than that:

Is This Dodge 'Fairy' Commercial Actually Hate Speech in Disguise?

By Bob Garfield

Published: April 17, 2006 Faggot. Queer. Fairy. These are synonyms, epithets one and all disparaging gays -- or, more often, heterosexual men deemed insufficiently masculine. Let's call that Fact No. 1.

Macho brand
Fact No. 2: Dodge is marketing its new Caliber subcompact as a tough little car, as opposed to sissy little Civics, Corollas and the like. This comports with Dodge's long-cultivated macho image, as exemplified by the grunting, Aerosmith heavy-metal music tag punctuating every spot.

Fact No. 3 is that one of the introductory commercials from BBDO, Detroit, features the juxtaposition of a burly tough guy and his Doberman with a sweater-draped girlie man who is walking four little lap dogs. Fact No. 4 is that the only line of dialogue in the commercial is the burly dude exclaiming, "Silly little fairy!"

And Fact No. 5 -- the genuinely astonishing fact -- is that Daimler Chrysler asserts that none of the above is meant to invoke a sexual insult.

"Was it intentional? Absolutely not," says spokeswoman Suraya Bliss, whose voice quavered as she spoke, perhaps because she was choking on the corporate line. "It's not the kind of company we are."

Preposterous corporate line
But, of course, the corporate line is preposterous. Much more likely is that someone at BBDO realized they could call people fairies if their commercial depicted an actual fairy. Get it! How subversive! A flitty little fairy! We can imagine the hilarity in the cubicle as they contrived a way to set up the "Not for sissies" selling proposition based on an innocent magical fantasy. The result-mean-spirited but undeniably crafty...

[Emphasis mine and in the interest of full disclosure, I drive a Dodge Neon]

Bob, who wasn't present at the brainstorming session that came up with the ad concept, wasn't present when ad executives approved the idea, wasn't there when it was pitched to Dodge, didn't hear the water cooler banter on the film set, and despite knowing absolutely nothing of Dodge's intent... nevertheless he knows, just knows, that Dodge is a queer hatin' organization, constantly scheming behind the scenes for ways to cleverly mock the homosexual community.

Such are the consequences of PC politics. When the listener lays claim as the sole legitimate interpreter of the speaker's intent, this article is the outrageous result. Bob Garfield has refused to accept Dodge's protestations of innocent intent, has countered with accusations of "mean-spirited craftiness," and in doing so has attempted a bold-faced power grab over the speech of others. And I'm calling him on it.

(Via: KisP)

UPDATE: See for yourself the pernicious, gay hatin' mendacity!

UPDATE: The author of the article in question, Bob Garfield himself, weighs in as the first commenter. Check it out.

Also, check out David Kiley of Business Week Online, who "seldom agrees with Garfield" but is "inclined to agree" with him this time. But he notes:

I read the comments on Adage.com, though, and if the posters, especially those who said they were gay, were legit, then maybe Garfield, and Kiley, [I'm attributing this quote to Kiley. I'm new to his website] are all wet.

This is typical of the posts on Garfield's column: "I appreciate the sensitivity to the issue, but as a gay man in the business, I don't see any level of homophobic undertones in the ad at all. Now, if there were any stereotypes of swishy walks or limp wrists once the guy is transformed, than I'd be emailing HRC, BBDO and Dodge. Think it's a cute ad. Jeff New York City –NEW YORK, NY"

It's getting harder to know where those political and social lines are.

To me, the lines are clear. I want to nip Garfield's disingenuous claim to victimhood based on the false presumption of malicious intent in the bud. Really, that's all there is to it. Though I have to say I'm heartened to hear that Kiley "would have panned the ad for being lame on many fronts..." Whew! Here I thought I was the only one who would've used the word lame to describe this ad!

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