Tuesday, February 12, 2008

V-Day equality

As I was watching TV the other night, I sat through god-only-knows-how-many Valentine's Day themed commercials. Diamonds, perfume, gemstones, cars, jewels, cards, rubies, and other (usually sparkly) ways for couples to express their love. At some point, I noted that the couples were always, always heterosexual (and it's usually the guy presenting the gift, but I won't go off on a tangent about the inequality of stereotypical gender roles). And then, naturally, I thought Hallmark and Zales and the like are really missing out on a good niche market.

"Ewww...," one person said to my idea.

And that's exactly why the companies don't, and that's exactly why there's enough momentum for states to outlaw gay marriage.

Whether our values shape our consumerism or our consumerism our values, introducing gay couples in V-day advertising would be a prime way to present a human side and may give more traction to their more mainstream acceptance.

For example, Hallmark could advertise their musical cards with, say, Steve presenting Gary with a song by, oh, the Village People or the Backstreet boys. For the lesbians, music by Russian pop duo t.A.T.u.

Or Zales, the jeweler, could have effeminate Josh present the buff Aaron with a diamond earring stud. (I understand these are stereotypes, but we need some cultural shorthand to show in a 30 second slot that these are not just two really, really good platonic friends.) If it aired later in the evening, they could slyly and briefly cut to Aaron's hand on Josh's ass as they embrace.

Kay, another jeweler, could have butch Cathy giving the platinum blonde Lisa a pendant. "Thank you, sweetie," Lisa says, giving her girlfriend a (chaste) hug and peck on the cheek. Finally, the commercial shows them walking off down a twilit street, fingers intertwined, with Lisa's head practically resting on Cathy's shoulder.

If we take the un-cynical view that Valentine's Day is about love, romantic love, absolute twoo wuv, then why not show love in its different forms? And if you cynically view it as a gigantic marketing ploy, second to Christmas in card sales, well, exploit, exploit, exploit, baby. And if we make any headway in dispelling prejudices, it'll be a nifty bonus.

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