Tuesday, February 6, 2007

More Snickers stuff: Let's just try to silence the debate on this

Snickers has released a statement about their Super Bowl ad, not apologising, that you can read more here. Here's a bit:
“As with all of our Snickers advertising, our goal was to capture the attention of our core Snickers consumer, primarily 18-to-24-year-old adult males,” said a spokeswoman for Masterfoods, Alice Nathanson. “Feedback from our target consumers has been positive, and many media and Web site commentators on this year’s Super Bowl lineup ranked the commercial among this year’s best.”

“We know that humor is highly subjective and we understand that some consumers have found the commercial offensive,” Ms. Nathanson said, adding: “Clearly that was not our intent. We do not plan to continue the ad on television or on our Web site.”
I completely agree with humor being "highly subjective". All texts are highly subjective - theater, literature, television, music - in that people will interpret them differently based on the values and experiences they have while viewing. Even reality itself can become such a text. That's why witnesses to a crime are interviewed separately: to keep each interpretation of reality from mixing based on who among them has the strongest personality.

Of course, that's not what the Snickers company meant. What they meant was It's highly subjective, but some viewpoints are more subjective than others. Notice that the statement implies that the focus groups were not subjective, that Snickers' intent was objectively clear (i.e. anyone who doesn't agree that that was their intent is stupid), and that "some" consumers found offensive (marginalizing us in the democracy of public opinion). As John Aravosis said today, the statement "hardly reeks of 'I get it'".

So considering all that, Outsports.com has this commentary up about the advertisements. Quote:
The sophisticated message seemed to be that the overreaction of "straight" men to homosexual contact is completely irrational, and, in the case of the proposed threesome, maybe that contact is not entirely shunned.
This is a possible interpretation, especially of the ad that aired on TV. The others, I don't know, hitting someone who just did something one thinks is gay with metal objects doesn't seem to me like a "sophisticated message" that makes fun of the bashers. To a lot of GLBT people it had an air of "well, that's what you gotta do sometimes".

He goes on to criticise Aravosis' interpretation of the players' reactions with:
Aravosis seems to be saying that not only are people not allowed to be uncomfortable watching something, but certainly no one can show that discomfort.
Yes, yes, the ultimate goal of anyone who disagrees with a high-production value, significantly edited recording of hired athletes' responses to a commercial is to be a fascist and silence free speech in their autocratic rule of the world. Please. No one's saying that people aren't allowed to feel uncomfortable anywhere, just that a major company shouldn't use it to sell candy bars.

The column closes with:
And if I were Mars Inc., which produces Snickers, I wouldn't worry too much about the boycott that Aravosis is threatening: Containing a high fat content and more calories than you could burn running a 5k, Snickers bars don't get eaten by gay men anyway.
HA HA! All gay men are always dieting! And they would never actually run the five kilometers necessary to burn those calories because they're sissies! YUK YUK! And lesbians don't exist! HA HA!

Oh, I suppose his humor is "highly subjective" as well.

2 comments:

Sportin' Life said...

The condescension and accusatory huffiness of some of these people who don't get it I find to be more frustrating and infuriating than the ads themselves.

Situations like this actually present good opportunities for educating people, but it's impossible to get any attention without a sh*tstorm of outrage. Unfortunately, once you have the sh*tstorm, people try to shift the subject to whether or not a sh*tstorm is justified and away from the substance of the issue iself.

Kevin said...

Good post! Funny!