CAT | Religious Perspectives
McDonald’s released a gay-friendly television advertisement in France, and by the powers of the internet, it went viral. The YouTube video has over 1.2 million views in just over a week.
The ad is part of McDonald’s campaign in France, “venez comme vose êtes,” translated to “come as you are.” Simply themed: McDonald’s respects and welcomes diversity.
From a marketing perspective (not that I studied it, or anything), the ad is excellent.
First, a direct critique of the advertisement itself: the writing is clever and the execution is perfect. The son’s facial expression, at 0:32 in the video, after his dad says, as translated, “too bad your class is all boys,” is priceless. The son is in the closet, yet there is no struggle or sadness or sorrow in the reminder. Instead, that smile says, “thank you for giving me another chance to remember and think about the man I like/love.”
Second, a broad assessment of the ad and the campaign: again, McDonald’s is smart. You would have to be an idiot to not advertise to a diverse crowd these days; doing otherwise is bad policy that will put your company out of business in the future. The times of straight-white-male dominance are ending. Broadening your market is the smart business decision.
After showing the ad, O’Rielly’s first comment: “Now my question is: does that make you want to buy a Big Mac?” He brings on a guest, Jane Skinner, and asks, “Now does that make you hungry?” She jokingly answers, “Well, I’m not a gay man so I can’t really answer that question.” (Stupid answer. The ad speaks to all diverse groups and those that welcome diversity.) Then there’s a little more banter and she adds, “What does being gay have to do with eating a hamburger?” O’Reilly really cannot drop the need for this ad to invoke hunger, again asking, “So you’re not hungry after watching this, right?”
Summarized, O’Reilly suggests that all ads must lead to a direct craving for whatever product is being advertised. After implying the ad would not make the majority or people hungry, he says, “I don’t know why they would do it.”
I don’t think O’Reilly is really that stupid and naïve to marketing practices, but I’ll respond anyway. There is this concept in the marketing world called brand management and public relations. Companies advertise their brand, their brand’s culture, their brand’s ideals, etc. No more needs to be said on that point.
O’Reilly then continues: “it will never run in the U.S.A.”
I agree that, presently, it would not be run in the U.S. Our society, as a whole, is not as accepting or open-minded as those in Europe. A company, such as McDonald’s, would not risk losing their customers in our simple-minded America.
But how short-sighted is O’Reilly? Do these old-white-male-conservatives really not understand that they are becoming extinct and their old-fashioned views are following them to the grave? An ad like this will run in the U.S. in the next 10 years. Easily. Remember how Manhunt ads appeared on SI’s website? And the gay-dating ad that almost made it into the Super Bowl rotation?
Further, look at the ‘likes’ versus ‘dislikes’ on the YouTube videos as a basic means to measure society’s perspective. McDonald’s ad: 5396 likes, 981 dislikes (84.6% like); O’Reilly’s segment: 11 likes, 46 dislikes (19.3% like). Certainly not scientific, but noteworthy nonetheless.
After his guest mentions that the ad is part of an inclusive campaign, O’Reilly contributes this gem of bigotry: “Do they have an Al-Qaeda ad? … Come as you are and, you know, … *boom*”
Um, did he just compare gays to terrorists?
Even if he didn’t, how close-minded is that anyway? He’s the type of person that sees a male wearing a turban or a female wearing a hijab, and immediately classifies them as an Islamic terrorist. You know, I would love to see one of the ads in this campaign target Islamaphobia (a new word I picked up reading John Amaechi’s latest blog post). Have an Islamic female walk around town in her traditional clothing, note the judging stares she receives, and then have her walk into McDonald’s to a warm, “Welcome to McDonald’s, how can we help you today?”
Or how would O’Reilly receive an ad that targets a diverse demographic within his own conservative base of followers? Show some Mormon missionaries knocking door-to-door and the repetition of doors slammed in their face (as is the common result). Then, have the pair go to McDonald’s to an open door and the message, “come as you are.” How would O’Reilly respond then?
So often, we in the gay community are at direct odds with the religious community. Accordingly, even if unfairly, we stereotype them just as much as they stereotype us. And although there is certainly plenty of evidence that much (most) of our opposition for equal rights comes from those with deeply embedded religious views, we must be wary of casting such a wide net that we classify our friends and allies as enemies.
With this perspective in mind, I was fascinated and pleased to see this article from The Advocate describing a campaign called, “Believe Out Loud.” The recently launched campaign encourages religious allies, ministers, churches, etc. to be vocal with their support. While many churches have varying degrees of acceptance of the GLBT community, it is necessary to announce that support, both to welcome the community and to spread the message of equality.
Believe Out Loud’s website, which launched since the Advocate article was published, states: “It’s not enough to believe that these individuals should be welcomed in their church communities—we must sing their welcoming as loudly as we sing the hymns. Because welcoming the LGBT community is itself a form of hymn—an expression of the ideals upon which our religious faith rests.”
The website also has some very nice resources. First, it links to the Institute for Welcoming Resources, which helps you locate welcoming and affirming churches in your area. Also, specifically in the Believe Out Loud’s resource section, I love the piece, “Why We Can’t Stay Silent.” I appreciate this message so much, because the ideas transcend to all facets of the gay community. Here are some strong points from it:
- Silence can be viewed as giving permission for acts of discrimination, hate speech and violence.
- Silence lets stand the myth that same sex attraction is a matter of choice.
- Silence can be interpreted as supporting the idea that same sex relationships are fundamentally expressions of deviant behavior.
- Silence denies the right of public recognition of gay commitment to long term loving relationships expressed in the bonds of marriage and relegates these relationships to the status of immoral acts.
- Silence does not help deepen our understanding of LGBT issues. It leaves us to rely on misconceptions, myths and opinions expressed by others and results in a growing alienation of LGBT persons from the faith community.
It is these reasons, and many others, why it is important for allies to be vocal with their support and for those in the community to come out.
On that note, I also want to specifically thank all of the allies out there, those that I know personally and those that I do not. I don’t think we (GLBT community) say it enough, and I’m sure they (allies) would say it’s nothing to be thanked for, but the personal experiences I have had and the support and acceptance I receive mean so much to me. So thank you, and be loud with your support.
I woke up this morning, and while I stayed in bed for a few minutes, I thought about the hypocrisy of so many Christians. Quite a random topic to wake up to, I realize. I merely was reflecting on something my ex used to tell me: the ultimate intention of any Christian should be to bring people to Christ. Above all else, it is the most important. Cite all the Bible verses you want and promote whatever government legislation you want, because in the end (assuming, for a moment, that we’re in the Christian “end”), you are damning yourself.
After that thought, I went to my computer and began to read some of the many articles, news stories, and Tweets I saved previously to read later. Now is later, and I did not make it passed the very first link before having to make this post.
This letter was written by a mother in 2000 to her community, especially directed at the Christians. It is eloquent and profound, and ten years later, its words still ring true. I encourage you to read it in its entirety, but I will excerpt my favorite parts here:
- “Many letters have been sent to the Valley News concerning the homosexual menace in Vermont. I am the mother of a gay son and I’ve taken enough from you good people.”
- “I’m tired of your foolish rhetoric about the “homosexual agenda” and your allegations that accepting homosexuality is the same thing as advocating sex with children. You are cruel and ignorant. You have been robbing me of the joys of motherhood ever since my children were tiny.”
- “You have the audacity to talk about protecting families and children from the homosexual menace, while you yourselves tear apart families and drive children to despair. I don’t know why my son is gay, but I do know that God didn’t put him, and millions like him, on this Earth to give you someone to abuse. God gave you brains so that you could think, and it’s about time you started doing that.”
- “You use religion to abdicate your responsibility to be thinking human beings. There are vast numbers of religious people who find your attitudes repugnant. God is not for the privileged majority, and God knows my son has committed no sin.”
When I first saw this Jesus NOH8 photo by Adam Bouska, I initially felt that it was slightly sacrilegious. But then I thought: Jesus WOULD be a part of the NOH8 campaign, because Jesus does not hate. Yet you, the Christians supposedly following him, do.
It has been 6 months since the ban on gay marriage was ruled unconstitutional in Iowa. Unless I missed some major story, the gates of hell have, surprisingly, not opened up sending an army of demons to destroy the state. Children are not being bombarded with gay rhetoric and propaganda in school. Gay couples are not pounding on the doors of every church demanding to be married. Debauchery is not pouring through the streets. It is not in Connecticut, Vermont, or Massachusetts either. And it will not in New Hampshire once it becomes legal on January 1.
The Reverend Mark Stringer, minister of the First Unitarian Church of Des Moines, gave a sermon on October 18th that became an opinion printed yesterday in the Des Moines Register (Link). He speaks of commitment, family, and love. “How can any of us tout the importance of family values if we aren’t willing to value these loving families?”
He provides anecdotes of some couples he has married, together 17 years, 27, 30, or multiple decades. His remarks at the wedding of the 30-year gay couple: “I asked the congregation to reflect on how much the couple had endured to simply inhabit their relationship. And then I thanked them, on behalf of everyone present, for their example of love and commitment.”
So which traditions of marriage are more important: the traits of the couple or the love and commitment they share? I say “traits” generally because, remember, mixing races was once seen as a threat to the tradition of marriage as well. Love is a more important component of marriage. Commitment is more important. These gay couples, and many more around the country that have been waiting faithfully for decades, uphold the only values that should matter when defining marriage.