"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Sunday, January 11, 2015

They Might As Well Give Up

I spend way too much time surfing the Internet these days, when I should be doing things like cleaning house, but I do see some interesting trends.

If you follow this blog, you know I've spent a fair amount of time covering the marriage fight, but that's only part of the picture -- a high-profile part, to be sure, but only part. That's where the major campaign has been waged in the past few years, that's the one getting all the press, and that's the one leading to much wailing and rending of garments on the part of the guardians of "traditional values." (Who, as far as I'm concerned, have as much understanding of values as they do of morality, which is to say, rudimentary, at best.)

Yes, marriage is a fundamental and very important institution, but there's another one that's equally important and, if I may hazard an opinion, equally foundational: marketing.

OK, he's lost it, you're thinking. But consider: we are basically a capitalist society. Not purely capitalist, because that inevitably leads to disaster, but in all essentials, we have private producers and purveyors who offer goods and services to the public. It's a consumer driven economy, and a society that is ultimately very materialistic. And of course, marketing is the means by which the producers and purveyors try to convince the consumers to buy their particular brand.

And look what's been happening lately:

From Banana Republic:

That's Nate Berkus and his fiance, Jeremiah Brent, in a campaign highlighting "real relationships."

And from Tiffany:

The couple, who are a real gay couple, remain anonymous at this point, but the caption is a winner:

"Will you promise to never stop completing my sentences or singing off-key, which I'm afraid you do often? And will you let today be the first sentence of one long story that never, ever ends? Will you?"

And to cap it off, this spot for the ACA:

(Via Joe.My.God.)

This is also a real-life couple.

The intent in these ads is plain: they want to appeal to younger people, those who are growing up with the ideas of diversity and inclusiveness (which, after all, are real American values: without those in the mix, this country would not have survived) as a firm part of their world view, and they want to appeal to the great middle, that majority of Americans who are not bothered by the idea of equal rights, including marriage, for gay people. They're aiming for the mainstream, which the Tony Perkinses and Bryan Fischers and Brian Browns are not. Americans are, on the whole, a tolerant people, no matter what you hear from the fringes. (And it's only the fringes that seem to get any coverage these days, I guess because they're loud and obnoxious and that somehow translates into ratings.) We as a people are pretty much live and let live, and we're rapidly approaching the point, if we're not already there, that for most people, something like that ad caption above generates an "Aww" and not a heart attack.

These are only the latest in a series of similar ads and TV spots going way back that have been cropping up more and more frequently, and which show no sign of disappearing.

I'm not the first to register on this: here's a story from Adweek from 2011 on "The 50 Gayest Ads Ever" that also demonstrates that the phenomenon is, and has been, global. In fact, other countries are way ahead of us. Remember this McDonald's ad, from France?

And this one, which led to one of those phenomenally successful (just ask them) boycotts from Anti-Gay, Inc.:

I think it was the tag line -- "This is wholesome" -- that caused heads to explode. Poor things. At any rate, you get the idea. It's a phenomenon that's been pretty much out of the spotlight, but it's been happening gradually, quietly (usually), and all over the world. It's called "normalization," and we're there.

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