Monday a blogstorm kicked up over the ad that showed two mechanics fighting over a Snickers bar and inadvertently kissing, with the largest gay civil rights group calling on the Mars Inc., the candy company, to pull several alternative endings and related material from its Web site.
And before the day was done, the material had been pulled, as were plans to show one of the alternate endings during the Daytona 500 telecast.
Here was Americablog's mid-day headline: "Snickers Superbowl Web site promotes violence against gays and lesbians. Bears & Colts players react in disgust, on camera, to gays."
The ad, which aired during Sunday's game, showed two guys working on a car. One is leaning over the hood, eating a Snickers bar. The other can't help but start chewing on the free end. They work their way toward the middle until they realize their lips have touched. Then, calling for a "manly" act, each rips a clump of hair from his chest.
But that wasn't the problem.
"You ain't seen nothin' yet," writes John Aravosis, a DC political consultant on his Americablog site. Aravosis, who had advocated against anti-gay actions in creating the StopDrLaura.com site and the Matthew Shepard Online Resources, took issue with the since-changed Snickers site's showing the reactions of three Bears and two Colts players who had watched the ad. He also questioned three alternative endings to the spot.
I didn't see video of the player's reactions before the site was altered. Aravosis reports that one player said, "That ain't right." A second made a face twisted with disgust. "These guys are role models for kids, and they're telling America's kids ... that two guys kissing ain't right," Aravosis writes. (Update: here's the link to the Bears interviews. And here's the link to the Colts.)
One of the alternative endings had a third guy approaching after the close encounter. Brushing his hair from his eyes, he asked "is there room for three on this Love Boat." In another, instead of pulling out chests hair after the kiss, they drink motor oil and anti-freeze.
Aravosis writes, "They guzzle it down, screaming at the top of their lungs, making them sick to their stomachs. The ad is vaguely violent - better to die than be gay."
The next one might be worst, by Avarosis' account. After the kiss, one picks up a wrench and attacks the other. Then the second slams the hood of the car of the head of the other. Aravosis: "Yes, the appropriate reaction to a guy kissing you is to beat the crap out of the guy who kissed you. Maybe Snickers should rename this ad 'Matthew Shepard."
The entire thing is absolutely sickening. And while I can appreciate that Snickers didn't overtly think that promoting violence against gays and lesbians is "funny," they knew what they were doing. They were gay-bashing for fun. And they didn't just cross the line - they left the line in the dust.
My first reaction when I read this, was that he was making much ado about nothing. Particularly when the progressive blogger noted that the family that owns Mars is a big supporter of the Republican party. Leaving his feet to the throw a punch, I thought.
But what was up with showing ball player after ball player react to the video? Where's Dave Kopay when you need him? And after watching the now-pulled alternative endings, which can still be seen here, I'm wondering what the ad agency and Mars officials were going for. Making fun of rednecks? Thats what some Ameriblog readers concluded.
Not everyone reading Americablog was as outraged. A commenter, signing his opinion Just Some Guy, wrote:
Now I realize that with the new Democratic majority in Congress, and the rising liberal sentiment in this country, that some people are going to want to flex their muscles. And rightfully so.
However, wouldn't it be best to use some form of restrain, rather than picking knee-jerk fights over every little thing which may offend someone? The entire air of "political correctness" from the '80s is exactly the vehicle the neofascists rode in to power, and it's resurgence was used by GWB to rally his base.
There's a difference between a racist tirade by Michael Richards or Michelle Malkin, and a joke by Sara Silverman or Lisa Lampinelli. The difference is malice, and I just didn't see the malice in the commercial.
I would suggest shrugging off things said in jest. Otherwise you are going to end up crying wolf, and that's the same reason people are currently tuning out GWB and his fearmongering. Please, don't set yourself up to be tuned out- it weakens us all.
Ace of Spades HQ showed stirring sensitivity in worrying that "otherwise straight men, in a lapse of judgement due to cravings for peanut, caramel, and chocloate, may suddenly embrace the 'gay lifestyle' and degenerate into man-on-man kissing at a moment's notice." Tongue firmly in cheek, he wrote:
It is one thing to have such disgusting displays on Queer as Folk. If you're tuning in to that Cinemax sodomania, you know what you're getting. But when our children are watching the Super Bowl, and exposed to "alternate lifestyles" being practiced by men who work with trucks and appear otherwise "normal," I say it's time to give the Mars Company -- or should I say, Hermes-Aphrodite Company -- a piece of our collective mind.