February 8th, 2007

gay unicorn

That Snickers Ad, What is Homophobia, and Can't You People Take a Joke?

This has come up in a couple of venues, and I thought I’d try to consolidate my views on it here. Apologies to those seeing some of this twice and thanks to those who helped me clarify my feelings.

As I don’t watch TV generally and certainly don’t watch the Super Bowl, I had no idea there was a controversy about a Snickers ad on the Super Bowl until after the fact. You can see the ad, and read about the controversy here, which is where I first saw it and read about it. I’m told it’s also available on Youtube. In short, the ad shows two mechanics eating the same Snickers bar while working on a car. Their mouths meet as they get to the middle of it (a la Lady and the Tramp) and they realize they “accidentally kissed.” At that point they freak out and jump away from each other and exhort each other to “do something manly.” They then open their shirts and tear out some chest hair. The end of the ad directs viewers to a site called www.afterthekiss.com, which has since been taken down. On that site, three alternate endings were given for the commercial, and viewers were asked to vote for which one they liked best, with a note saying that the commercial would be shown with the winning ending at some upcoming sporting event on TV (they specified which one, I just don’t remember). There were also clips of players on both of the Super Bowl teams watching the commercial and reacting to it.

After protest from some gay and lesbian advocacy groups (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Matthew Shepard Foundation, and the Human Rights Campaign were notable examples) the company withdrew the ad and took down the website.

Discussion in the venues I’ve been frequenting has centered on two questions:

1. Is the commercial homophobic, or is it mocking homophobia?
2. If it is homophobic, is it bad enough to have provoked the reaction it got?

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(Note to self: I should do a whole separate entry on types and functions of humor).
Scott smiling

Where Does Humor Come From?

I'd love it if this becomes a meme. My previous entry on the Snickers commercial touched on this question. What I'm trying to do here is come up with a kind of taxonomy of humor, and then apply a few humorous moments from my fiction to that taxonomy.

Disclaimers:

1. I am not suggesting that my taxonomy is exhaustive. These are just the kinds of humor that came to my mind. I'd love to hear about more types.

2. I don't generally write comic fiction (I write movieverse fiction :-). Yes, that one's a pun). I write mostly serious fiction with comedic moments. So, I've excerpted a few comedic moments from my fiction for illustrative purposes.

3. I don't deal with humor as put-down in this, or the flip side: humor as in-group bonding. I think those are good things to talk about and I'd be happy to read something about them if someone wants to write it.


A Beginning of a Taxonomy of Humor
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And now to apply that taxonomy, some excerpts from my fiction of things I hope are funny and categorization of same:

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Okay, meme anyone? What would you like to add to my taxonomy?
Where does the humor come from in your stories?