A New Year, A New Look

Hello to 2019!

While 2018 (aka TwentyGayTeen) brought some amazing gayness to the world, like Ellen Page getting married, Janelle Monae’s music, everything by lesbian Jesus Hayley Kiyoko, and shows like Pose, it was also a banner year for gay commercials.

2018 matched and then surpassed the best year we’ve had (2016) giving us almost a dozen new commercials! And best of all? Very few were bad and none were exploitative.

Best Commercial

This had some tough competition, but in the end I have to give it to Las Vegas’s “Now and Then” commercial. The number one reason? They aired it all over the place. It was hard to go a week without seeing it!

There were multiple versions of the commercial, but this much remained true: she said “I do.”

Second place goes to Pantene’s Kevin Balot’s commercial, where we’re reminded how beautiful we all are.

Worst Commercial

Weirdly I wouldn’t have picked this at first. You see, Best Buy made a solid run with their Mom shopping for her wife for Christmas. Sounds great, right? Well the problem is they also aired a version that omitted her homosexuality. And that version was seen more.

This is the good version, but I was pretty salty about the hacked one.

There’s no real second place here, as this year there were no lezploitative commercials added!

Check out all the 2018 commercials and pick your favourite.

Commercials vs PSAs

There are a lot of LGBT ads out there that are really PSAs.

In creating this site, the idea was for recording all commercials. While sometimes a commercial will blur the line, like Vicks and Tylenol, a distinction had to be made. It’s far too easy to lump a public service announcement (PSA) and commercial together. They’re both advertising, but there are some key differences:

  • How they are made
  • How they air
  • Who makes them

 

Commercials are Paid Media

All commercials have been paid for by a company, who uses the commercial as an investment to reach viewers. By contrast, a PSA can request a spot, for free, from a station, but there is no assurance the time will be given or the PSA aired. Some PSAs will pay for specific time-slots, but there’s no obligation. A commercial will not air unless paid for.

Commercials Can Make Money

While a commercial must be paid for, it also can be used to make money for a group or ask for donations. If you’ve seen political commercials, you may have noticed some say “Paid for by …” The reason for that is a PSA cannot be used to raise money or recruit. It can’t use ‘free’ or ‘discount’ in the language either.

Commercials Can Tell You What to Do

This can often be subtle, but only a commercial can have a call to action. For example, a commercial might say “Feed the beast!” A PSA would not be able to do so, as that directs people to do something specific. That’s why the PSA says “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” and not “Don’t let your friends drive drunk.” The latter is a call to action while the former merely implies.

So Why Does It Matter?

As I said before, the goal of the site was commercials, not PSAs. That means there are certain ads that air that we won’t be hosting here. Like PSAs. And this means there are a lot of PSAs for things like LGBT friendly churches or ads that support athletes going to the Sochi Olympics.

But they’re not commercials. They’re not trying to sell a thing. And right now they won’t be hosted here.

Transgender: Different Takes on Exploitative Ads

This last two months, three commercials about transgender people have arrived.

The first was from Vicks, a three and a half minute-long commercial about the real transgender woman named Gauri Sawant, who raised an orphaned child as her own in India. Second was from Absolut, a part of a series of commercials about people at a party, one of whom meets his old friend Dave, who is now Darla. The third is from Heineken, where people from different backgrounds make peace and build a bar and beer heals all.

I can’t help but feel a little exploited by the third one.

It’s true, they’re all ‘normalizing’ different, but there’s something weird about the Heineken commercial. In the first two commercials, and if I reach back further there’s the Secret stress test as well, where they are certainly selling their brand, but they’re also humanizing in a way that feels real. We can understand the man looking for Dave and meeting Darla and being weird, but recognizing the phobia in himself. We can understand the fear of outing ourselves. We can understand the struggle to love someone no matter who we are.

And then I look at the beer commercial and I see an attempt to tell us that the world will be better with a beer.

April started with Kendall Jenner trying to tell us that the answer to class wars, police brutality, the presidency, and racism was to be found in a nice cold Pepsi. Everyone mocked that commercial, and rightly so, because it simplified the world into one ridiculous thought. Hand a cop a Pepsi and he won’t beat you.

Well, Heineken would like you to think that if you hand a Nazi– excuse me, if you hand an alt-right a beer, he won’t hate transgender people anymore. Oh they couched it in the veneer of “once people work together, they realize they’re just people” and that is true. People realizing we’re all people is important, and if we did that, maybe there would be less war and hate.

After they build the furniture, they watch a video of themselves saying the things they believe. The alt-righter outright says in his that he can’t conceptualize transgender. There’s a climate denier who says it’s all piffle. You get the idea.

The problem with this is that everyone else is just saying a thing they believe in.

And the woman who is transgender is saying who she is.

I believe in climate change. I am a lesbian. I can change my beliefs, but I cannot change who I am.

On the screen, we saw the expression of a transgender woman, a person who is so used to hearing people’s views about their right to exist, and it’s heartbreaking. She put herself out there, and what happened? The Alt-righter pretended to walk out (which was an option given), and then came back and said he was just joking.

It’s not funny. It’s not funny at all. Besides the fact it’s not my job to educate everyone on what it’s like to be gay, and clearly not this woman’s to educate everyone she meets about being trans, that’s what the commercial is insisting. That it’s our job to talk to everyone about us, so they can stop hating us.

Heineken had a woman sit down with a man who didn’t think she had a right to exist as a person. And they made her justify herself to him. He risked nothing in his admission of being an alt-righter who didn’t understand transgender. She risked everything — her dignity and her safety included — and worst of all, if she’d walked away, everyone would have said that she was intolerant.

The bald truth is this: Not all viewpoints are equal. We shouldn’t praise people who do the bare minimum of treating another person as a human being. We should demand more of ourselves and each other. We should be better, do better, and act better.

And if we do it over a beer, that’s fine, but for me it won’t be a Heineken.

 

YouTube’s Content Warning

By now you’ve probably heard about how YouTube is marking videos as restricted, if you’ve got that enabled. While catching up on the list of commercials in my inbox, I watched the 2016 Absolut video about Darla, a part of their #AbsolutNights campaign.

She Hadn’t Changed. I Had.

In it, a young man finds his friend Dave at a music festival. Only … “Only it wasn’t the Dave I remembered—he told me his name was Darla now.” The narrator attempts to come up with an excuse to leave, but Darla grabs his hand and takes him on a night he’ll never forget. They went backstage, met everyone, did everything, and together they watched the sun come up and talked.

We just talked and she told me she always felt this way. I just listened and somehow I understood. She was my friend. The same person. The same heart. She hadn’t changed. I had.

I cried.

I went to download the video to host here and saw this:

Content Warning: This video may be inappropriate for some users.

Content Warning

Why would this be blocked, I wondered. Was it the drinking? It couldn’t be. I’ve seen worse out there, unblocked, and they had barely one drink. Was it the subject matter? Was it the gay?

It turned out to be none of that.

When I went to Absolut’s page, I saw a surprising message.

This channel contains content that may be inappropriate for some users, as determined by the YouTube account owner.

Absolut flagged their own account. Because of the alcohol.

Self Censorship

Today, it’s harder than normal to tell if content is properly or improperly restricted. Since I don’t have the Google restrictions on, it should be obvious if an account or a video was voluntarily flagged or not. YouTube is still muddling their way through trying to ‘protecting’ people without prejudice.

It’s an impossible task, though. Between letting the community flag videos on their own (about as useful as the comments sections I feel), and their magical algorithms, they still have failed. They’re still making the world a little harder for us to see ourselves in it.

Mic: How Food Commercials Make Us Gayer

On Feb. 2, 2014, Super Bowl viewers witnessed something they’d never seen during the production before: a same-sex couple as parents in a commercial. More specifically, a food commercial. Coca-Cola, whose primary goal is to sell sugary soda products, aired its original one-minute “It’s Beautiful” spot during the 48th Super Bowl, in light of the pending anti-LGBTQ Sochi Olympics.

This ode to America’s diversity, which shows quick vignettes of Americans of all backgrounds to a soundtrack of “America the Beautiful” sung in multiple languages, includes two dads dancing and clumsily roller skating with their young daughter.

Source:  Mic

Its no surprise to me, since the inspiration for this site was seeing the Campbells’ Soul ad. Food is something we all need. Of course it’s a perfect vehicle to share that we are, in the end, all the same.

Walgreens Little old Lesbians?

Late in 2016 I saw a commercial for a retiring teacher and though “Well that was hella gay.” The plot was a teacher retiring and getting picked up by a female friend, and they then went to … Walgreens to pick up prescriptions. Together.

I was sure I just reading into it.

Then they were back! At Walgreens again, buying a lot of sunblock. So they could go to a nude beach.

But hey, that’s just what gal pals do I guess.

And So It Begins

Welcome to 2017, where the very few commercials that include lesbians are listed on this site.

Very few.

While the Campbells’ Soup & Salad commercial has gotten a lot of airtime on Food Network, it’s one of the few commercials that involve queer women. There were only thirteen easily findable.

Googling for lesbian or queer female commercials came up with far fewer than I thought would exist. I was really happy to see the NatWest commercial, talking about how Debit Cards are for everyone, including the poly crowd, but beside that and the really awesome Secret commercial, they’re all about lesbians.

I’m sure I’ve got to be missing a lot, especially in non-English speaking countries, and I’m on the fence for some commercials. Like the car commercial banned in Italy? It involves a woman seducing another in order to get her car. In the end I went with including it, but tagging it for Lezplotation as it clearly being done for titillation.

Still. Things are just getting started here.