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March 27, 2006

Comments

Jack Malebranche

It's only homophobic if you think all homosexuals are "silly little fairies."

And girls.

If the fairy was actually a mincing twink, I could see a legitimate concern. But then, is there really anything wrong with men saying they don't want their world to be 'cute?'

Notably, the fairy gets her revenge by turning the guy who said it into an upperclass metrosexual.

"I think it would be great if cute and gay were conflated in the public consciousness"

I think 'cutesy' and gay ALREADY ARE conflated in the public consciousness.

They're certainly synonymous in my mind.

Hence my love of the gay.

When I say love, I mean love in the way that I love traffic and small children that aren't related to me.

Dan

Why do you think that is is positive that gays be seen as "cute"? I think the tag line "anything but cute" is unsubtle code for "not gay." Seems pretty obvious. What else explains the gay caricature in pastel with the sweater around the neck and little barking dogs? I would rather not been seen as a joke.

Jack Malebranche

I would rather not been seen as a joke.

Agreed.

But, to be fair, the word gay has always pretty much meant 'cute.'

Wikipedia: Gay
Merriam Webster

The word 'gay' and frivolity/cuteness have always been synonymous. Which is why the word sucks as a label for men who dig men.

Thank your people for picking that word to describe themselves. And thank GLAAD, too. They like to take responsibility for that sort of thing whenever possible.

Yum Yum

It's a funny ad. The more you complain about it, the more people are likely to think gays are indeed touchy feeling people.

Jack Malebranche

Can't help but agree, Yum Yum.

Malcontent

C'mon, Jack, plenty of words have plenty of synonyms. Leave it to you to put the absolute worst spin on a perfectly fine word.

The whole "more masculine than thou" schtick is wearing thin.

Jack Malebranche

I didn't spin it Malcontent, I just posted links to the actual definitions from which the word is derived. You can pretend that those definitions are irrelevant, but given the fact that there are still people alive who remember when gay didn't mean homosexual, and only meant cute, I think that's kind of a hard sell. It's not like I'm pointing to some 14th century etymology.

It's only a perfectly fine word if you want to be cute. Which many fags do. Which is why they never minded the word.

Lots of men, actually, most men, don't want to be associated with cute, which is why advertisers thought this ad would be effective.

Is it wrong for some homos to feel the same way?

Or is there something especially more cute about them?

The whole "more masculine than thou" schtick is wearing thin.

Sorry to rain on the gay parade, dude.

That's kind of a misleading comment, though, given the fact that I'm pretty open about what I am and what I'm not. I'm not someone running around claiming to be a lumberjack, which is what someone would assume from that comment. I'm just saying that masculinity is worth reclaiming for homos. It's pretty much my whole schtick. If ya don't know that by now, ya haven't been paying attention.

Malcontent

Jack: Correct me if I'm wrong, but selective dictionary definitions notwithstanding, I think the more widespread and accepted use of the word "gay" prior to its current usage was as a synonym for "happy" or "fun," not so much "cute." And while we're at it, I don't know what men you're hanging with, but the straight men I know, probably to an individual, would find being called "cute" a compliment.

So yes, I believe you are spinning when you try to make "cute" disparaging. And your, umm, unique views on "reclaiming masculinity" to me seem, I don't know, "homonormative." I don't like it any more that I like the heteronormative, either.

Jack Malebranche

Malcontent, you're spinning like a top.

selective dictionary definitions notwithstanding

Should I only pick ones that organizations like GLAAD have scrubbed in the past 20 years? Anyway, they weren't selective, they were just the first ones I grabbed. Here are some more. Sorry if they're inconvenient:

American Heritage

Dictionary.com

I think the more widespread and accepted use of the word "gay" prior to its current usage was as a synonym for "happy" or "fun," not so much "cute."

Can we agree on "cutesy?" The word definitely imples a frivolous, gleeful fun, which is consistent with examples of its usage. As the fairy in the ad was making things 'brightly colored' and 'lively,' I think that's pretty much in the same ballpark.

And while we're at it, I don't know what men you're hanging with, but the straight men I know, probably to an individual, would find being called "cute" a compliment.

By a girl, or a homo friend. The meaning of cute implied in the ad is the same one that we're discussing, not the one that means 'attractive.'

So yes, I believe you are spinning when you try to make "cute" disparaging.

Dodge made cute disparaging. And in that context, it is.

And your, umm, unique views on "reclaiming masculinity" to me seem, I don't know, "homonormative."

Huh? I'm confused because every time I say something in that vein, I get jumped on. Maybe it's because everything I say is SO homonormative that people are just playing Devil's Advocate?

As for them being 'unique,' well, I'm pretty comfortable with where my ideas fit into the body of writing on homosexuality. At this point, I pretty much know what writers I share ideas with. But thanks for playing.


Robbie

given the fact that there are still people alive who remember when gay didn't mean homosexual, and only meant cute, I think that's kind of a hard sell.

Jack, when you have to start parsing dictionary definitions to mitigate what seems like a fairly straight-forward advertisement, I think it's pretty safe to assume you're on the losing side of this one. There may be people who know the old definition of the word gay, but I highly, highly doubt any of them are in the target audience of that particular commercial.

I don't exactly head up the homophobia claimant parade, but I find it very difficult to believe that people in that company or ad agency weren't aware of the connotations behind the phrase, "silly fairy." It takes a special kind of retarded to be that ignorant, and ad agencies are paid to know the angles of phrasing.

I'm sure they well knew the gay subtext, and that was part of their point. "A car for a real man. Not those cutesy femmy ones."

Let's not run around denying the obvious. We're not lefties. We like the truth.

Jack Malebranche

Jack, when you have to start parsing dictionary definitions to mitigate what seems like a fairly straight-forward advertisement, I think it's pretty safe to assume you're on the losing side of this one.

Robbie, that was pretty much a sidebar to the discussion of the commercial. But hey, if you really don't think there's any frivolous or foofy connotation to the word gay, we just have a difference of opinion. I'm actually not on the losing side of that one. Go to a mall and ask teenagers use the word to describe inanimate objects. It still means cutesy in common parlance.

Even you are surely old enough to remember the Flintstones...

...I'm not playing with ancient history. You and I both know that organizations like GLAAD have been actively been promoting that the use of the word gay for homosexuality. But that doesn't just erase its other meanings. The co-opting and re-definition of that word has taken place, for the most part, since you and I were born.

I'm sure they well knew the gay subtext, and that was part of their point. "A car for a real man. Not those cutesy femmy ones."

Sure. Is that bad? And is it 'homophobic,' or just anti-cutesy femmy?

It's not like they're saying "not those cutesy homosexuals."

Masculinity itself more or less relies conceptually on establishing difference from women and effeminacy. This is just a commercial which plays into that. There is nothing overtly homophobic about it, unless you see yourself in the fairy. That's the only reason to be offended. And even then, it's really pushing it, given that the fairy was female, and it's still just a commercial.

I'm just not going to buy into the argument that anything that lampoons effeminacy is necessarily homophobic.


Jack Malebranche

I do, however, think that it promotes violence against female fairies, and self identified female fairies have a right to be outraged.

Robbie

It's not like they're saying "not those cutesy homosexuals."

Uhm, "silly fairy?"

Yes, yes that's exactly what they're saying. It's pretty naked. Like I said, I don't see homophobia in all things. I thought the charges against AI were a bit ridiculous. But I'm hard-pressed to read this commercial any other way. Even to defend it, you have to go eight levels of semantic, which is pretty indicative right there.

Jack Malebranche

I was so tempted to respond simply with:

"Silly fairy..."

But I think too highly of you to do that. And I don't really think of you as a fairy. But if I thought poorly of you, it would have been really funny and bitchy.

I'm just being honest, Robbie. If I saw that on TV it wouldn't even phase me. Actually, I rather like the commercial. In a focus group, I would have given a positive response.

The only thing any gay sensitivity about the commercial would do is reinforce the stereotype that homos are all really fairies, and that we all think of ourselves that way.

If you want to argue a point, argue how gay sensitivity on the issue could do something other than that.

Robbie

Oh, I'm not even sure it bothers me. The original post asked if the commercial was homophobic. I hate that word, but I take it to generally mean does it go out of its way to reinforce a negative view of gay people. In popular culture, a fairy is a euphemism for gay, and the guy in the commercial gets a metrosexual make-over.

So, working with that definition, yeah, I think it's fairly straight-forward on the anti-gay stuff.

Now, does it bother me? No, not really. I'm not easily offended, and I like unPC things no matter where they're directed. It'd be hypocritical to draw the line at unPC where homosexuality begins. I can think something is probably homophobic, but also unworthy of offense. If GLAAD started some huge campaign against the company over this, I'd think they had way too much free time on their hands. There are far worse things going on in the world than a 30 second car spot.

Jack Malebranche

I can certainly see why others would perceive it to be homophobic, but I just don't see it that way.

And somehow I didn't suspect you were offended.

If GLAAD started some huge campaign against the company over this, I'd think they had way too much free time on their hands.

I would go one step further and say that, in doing so, they would promote negative stereotyping and homophobia more effectively than the commercial. Five news network talking heads linking homosexuality to a cutesy fairies is far worse than a commercial with an implication that most people will gloss over.

And scolding men for preferring masculinity to effeminacy, which is I think more directly what this commercial is about, is only going to inspire resentment. A lot of men aren't actively homophobic, and have a live and let live attitude, but dislike effeminacy and revere masculinity. If you start scolding them every single time they express a preference for the masculine over the feminine, you're just setting up a more directly homophobic backlash.

Malcontent

I think I've allowed myself to get off track, and thanks to Robbie for getting me back on.

I was merely asking the question "Is it homophobic" because others had already drawn that conclusion. Like many other readers here, I am slow to offend in virtually every area. The only subjects I'm a bit touchy about are my physical appearance and people I love. Those are my hot buttons, I guess.

Do I think the commercial was playing on gay stereotypes? Probably, yes. If so, is that a bad thing?

I'd argue no, and I'd wager Jack would disagree. Jack seems to hold out his version of "masculinity" as a gay ideal, whereas I tend to like "prettier" guys, and I think there's a vital place for them. But that doesn't mean I think there's anything wrong with what floats Jack's boat, either, except maybe the satanism thing.

(As an aside, Jack has shifted the goalposts somewhat with his use of "cutesy." That word was never used in the ad, nor is it interchangeable with "cute." "Cutesy" means "deliberately or affectedly cute.")

But I do think it's fruitless (pardon the pun) and counterproductive to try to reject the word "gay" or to try to reach back etymologically for reasons why we shouldn't use it. I'm gay, I'm happy, I am at times frivolous and/or "foofy." I also think I am masculine, and if others think I am "cute," all the better. All of the above descriptions make me proud.

Aatom

Jack, stop trying to make 'fetch' happen! It's not going to happen!

Robbie

*tosses Aatom in a garbage can*

anapestic

If anyone's oversensitive, it's someone who loads his or her own baggage onto the term "gay" and assumes that when other people use it, they imply the same negative connotations that he or she feels about the word. Some people, notably teenagers, use it as a synonym for "lame" in certain contexts, but those same teenagers might have gay friends and might use "gay" to mean "homosexual" in other contexts. For most people, it's just the easiest way to say it. Just like it's easier to say "straight" than "heterosexual," and when I say the former, I'm not usually implying that the person is boring, even though "straight" has that connotation in other contexts.

The ad in question clearly has a double entendre. But in order to get too upset about it, you'd already have to be the sort of person who believes that he derives masculinity from the sort of vehicle that he drives. Let's hope that only silly breeders do that.

Jack Malebranche

Malcontent -

Jack seems to hold out his version of "masculinity" as a gay ideal, whereas I tend to like "prettier" guys, and I think there's a vital place for them.

You have me a little wrong, there.

I think masculinity is a male ideal, and I think that homosexual men have a right to lay claim to that ideal in the same way heterosexual men do. To suggest that they don't is deeply homophobic, from my perspective. The only way that's not homophobic, is to believe, as many gay writers and feminists do, that masculinity is regressive or anachronistic and has no value--basically, that it's not worth claiming.

I used to be a "prettier" guy, Mal. I'm not trying to kill a previous self. I'm not saying that they should be herded into camps or that they don't have some sort of worthwhile role in the world.

I object to the idea that they are frequently held up as the ideal for all homosexuals. Gay culture, to my mind, is their culture. Not mine. I embraced it for a while, and eventually found it to be extremely trivial and affected. I think it's a something that's fun for the young, but essentially without substance.

But that's just my opinion. People can do what they want want.

My beef is always that all homos shouldn't be expected to identify with it. I also think it's kind of a double standard that anyone who critques that culture is some sort of homo-hater. I object to the idea that gay culture is linked to homosexual desire.

People can be as gay as they want, I'm just saying there's another way to look at it. There are other ways of being homosexual, and gay culture socializes homosexuals to affect certain behaviors (and as you are well aware, political beliefs)in conjunction with their embrace of their sexuality. I'm saying drop all the baggage and separate the sexuality from the culture. Let the gays have their culture, but don't associate it with everyone who's ever experienced homosexual desire.

It's the "prettier" ones that find this notion very offensive. Because saying that gives them flashbacks of high school and being excluded and made fun of. Now they get mad whenever they are excluded from anything, even if they have no interest in it. They self-defensively make fun of everyone (isn't that what gay culture is about?) but can't handle being made fun of, which is all this commercial is really doing (if you read it that way). Calling them silly. Which, as a group, they are.

Gay culture and the word gay is always going to be associated in the popular imagination with that culture of effeminacy. Is it wrong not to want to be associated with effeminacy? Is it wrong for some homos to regard effeminacy as annoying, superficial or "silly?"

Apparently so.

(As an aside, Jack has shifted the goalposts somewhat with his use of "cutesy." That word was never used in the ad, nor is it interchangeable with "cute." "Cutesy" means "deliberately or affectedly cute.")

You know I can read those 'asides,' right? ;)

I thought it was me who was being petty about semantics. The root word is cute. They are very close to the same thing.

But I do think it's fruitless (pardon the pun) and counterproductive to try to reject the word "gay" or to try to reach back etymologically for reasons why we shouldn't use it.

Only if you partiually identify with the word, which you said you do. If you didn't, would it be fruitless? Or is it not OK to not identify with foofiness?

All of the above descriptions make me proud.

Me, not so much. You could describe me in many ways, probably not always flattering. Foofy would not be one of them. It's just not something I'd want to be or be associated with.

I apologize for the fact that was a little repetitive, but I have to leave and I don't have time to carve it down and make it more concise.

Malcontent

AAtom: ROFL. I love that movie. And that line.

Malcontent

Jack: I hope you'll excuse me if I haven't put as much time or energy into the nexus between "gay" and "masculine." After all, I don't write a whole blog about it. But you have heard of "judge not, lest ye yourself be judged," right?

There is just such a defensive and judgmental tone permeating your main thesis and your rejection of gay ideals that you don't find acceptable, and it drives me more than a little crazy. Isn't it better to try to find the beauty in individuals rather than putting things into their "proper" masculine or gay pigeonholes?

I can find some beefy and/or hairy men attractive, but as a group they don't do much for me. It may surprise certain readers of this blog to hear it, but I can appreciate the beauty of some transsexuals, and have even enjoyed a good tranny grope here or there.

But this quest of yours to "reclaim" some masculine ideal just seems quixotic and bizarre. If you don't like the supposed "gay" stereotypes, the cover boys on our magazines, our models and actors, our music, the way we dress, the kind of dogs or cars we own, or whatever you have a gripe about, it would seem that you're pretty much pissing into the wind in trying to remake "gay" in your own image. It is what it is, and there are reasons for that.

People may have their own tastes or fetishes, but there is a scientific, empirical basis behind "beauty." If what is "cute" or "gay" strikes you as femmy or threatening, then I would posit that the problem lies with you, not with the rest of us.

Robbie

I object to the idea that they are frequently held up as the ideal for all homosexuals

Jack - Not the ideal, the stereotype. And stereotypes exist for a reason.

I think that stereotypes are reinforced on both sides. On one end, you have the far right that believes being gay makes someone less of a man. On the left, you have activists who have pushed what they regard as the "non-threatening" image of homosexuality.

If you think about it, as gay culture entered mainstream society, only the mostly nonsexual bits of it have been pushed by gay activists. It's how we've ended up with the relatively inoffensive Will & Grace, and shows like Queer Eye For the Straight Guy. When Queer as Folk came along, certain quarters were all happy that the trend was being rebelled against (no matter how awful the writing). But we've settled in society for the foofy as a way of countering images of muscley, hairy men in leather bars buggering one another. It was a conscious decision to deflect the idea that homosexuality would somehow undermine old-fashioned notions of masculinity. (With the irony that gay culture went ahead and decided to undermine masculinity by making pink the new testosterone).

Of course any stereotype will grate, depending on the individual. They bother you far more than they bother me. I'd say on the gay culture/masculinity scale, you and I probably come down in the same area as far as personal behaviors, habits, and cultural perferences.

But I see gay culture and stereotypes the same way I view my Irish heritage. You introduce an Irish accent into an American show, and it's either going to be a priest, a drunk, a guy soaping himself under a rural waterfall, or all of the above. I just think that's funny, and it doesn't bother me in the slightest. When St. Patrick's Day rolls around, everyone assumes I'm going to be tanked out of my mind. I have fun with it.

Same deal with gay culture. I think it's hilarious. It amuses me. It doesn't reflect on me, even if others associate me with it.

And if you think the gay stuff bothers you, imagine a middle class black person watching American television. Rappers and gangstas and women who look like whores.

I think gay people are getting off light in comparison.

Jack Malebranche

Malcontent -

But you have heard of "judge not, lest ye yourself be judged," right?

A) That's a Christian motto. Did you just moralize to me?
B) It's also a bullshit gay motto. Gays judge everyone. It's what they're known best for - snotty, judgemental humor. You're just not allowed to judge them.

I can find some beefy and/or hairy men attractive, but as a group they don't do much for me.

What does that have to do with anything? I'm not promoting beefiness and hairiness.

If you don't like the supposed "gay" stereotypes, the cover boys on our magazines, our models and actors, our music, the way we dress, the kind of dogs or cars we own, or whatever you have a gripe about, it would seem that you're pretty much pissing into the wind in trying to remake "gay" in your own image.

Why the scare quotes, Mal? Are things that are gay not easily identifiable? There's no "supposed" about it.

I'm not remaking gay in my own image. Gay culture is what it is. I'm just suggesting alternatives to it, for those who don't identify with it. I'm not the first, and I won't be the last.

If what is "cute" or "gay" strikes you as femmy or threatening, then I would posit that the problem lies with you, not with the rest of us.

Gay theory cliche 101: if anyone dislikes effeminacy or likes masculinity, they are deeply insecure people. What's not to like?

Brilliant.

As for the femmy part...gay is synonymous with femmy. It is. Put your hands over your ears and sing, but it's still synonymous with femmy. Saying it isn't directly associated with effeminacy is pure delusion.


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