Wednesday, July 23, 2008
5734: The Education Of Bob Garfield.
As expected, Bob Garfield’s rant on Omnicom’s homophobic spots has inspired comments. As expected, it’s the stereotypical collection of opinions. But somewhat unexpectedly, Garfield himself presented a rebuttal to the responses. As expected, it appears the man has not yet come to see the big picture—to grasp the real issue at hand. Expect a potential follow-up column or even the launch of an Omnicom Must Die blog. Then expect it all to be forgotten within a few days. Unless someone airs a commercial demeaning Black, suicidal, homosexual pit bulls. In the meantime, here’s Garfield’s rebuttal…
“C’mon. It’s TV.”
How often [have I] seen that comment over the years, as a rationale -- or rationalization -- for advertising’s excesses? Likewise its rationalization cousin: “It’s only an ad. Lighten up!”
Both observations are phenomenally ignorant, revealing a fundamental inability to understand what advertising is. It surely isn’t TV. It’s ON television, but it’s not content that anybody has voted for in any way, shape or form. It just shows up, uninvited, and as such has not just a responsibility for decorum, but a special responsibility. This is NOT a generational issue. It’s a basic ethics issue -- not to mention basic common sense. For God’s sake, an advertiser is putting its multibilliondollar brand behind it: shouldn’t the joke, at a minimum, not resemble hate speech?
Another common refrain: “just more PC oversensitivity.” Wow. That’s really clueless, too. Any who thinks objecting to the depiction of violence (however absurd) for the crime of being too effeminate has ANYTHING to do with Political Correctness either a) doesn’t know what PC is, b) cannot reason beyond some reflexive, defensive sloganeering, c) is a bigot himself.
Those who contend [we] have so lost our sense of humor that we can’t joke about ANYTHING…well, the mind simply reels. For one thing, we CAN joke about everything…or at least everything I can think of…in the right time and place. Even the mass media are awash in hilarious, edgy material. But dehumanizing entire classes of people can be (and certainly is in Snickers’ case) a cruel and ugly enterprise. The commenter who found a parallel in anti-Semitic propaganda -- Ha ha! Look at these greedy jews and their big hooked noses! -- understood the phenomenon exactly.
I was amazed and appalled that one holding company could be responsible for so many sissy-bashing commercials. I am even more amazed and appalled that this mean and juvenile crap has so many defenders. —Bob Garfield