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The Dodge Caliber and Fairies

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I'm curious as to how people feel about the controversy surrounding this Dodge ad. Some bloggers and gay ad watchdogs have called Dodge out for homophobia.

"It directly finds humor with the term fairy, referring not just to the type that flies around with a magic wand, but also the universally recognizable gay stereotype of an effeminate gay man," said the Commercial Closet.

Said a spokesperson from Chrysler: "We were pretty surprised that there are individuals that are making the conclusion that sexual orientation can be determined by the type of clothes you wear and the type of dog that you're walking. Are they suggesting that men that wear colored shirts are gay … or that all gay men dress alike? What we would ask someone to do is look at the ad for what it is. The ad is about the Dodge Caliber, which is a small car that stands apart from the competition because of its aggressive styling, styling that's anything but cute -- the tagline for the campaign."

There's some obvious validity to the claims of veiled homophobia, I think, but when you compare it to years and years of GLAAD lauding Will & Grace along with its flamboyant stereotype Jack Macfarlane, this looks like a pretty minor offense.

Is the New Ad for Dodge Caliber homophobic? [queer beacon]
Gay Group: Ad is Anything But cute [detroit news]
Too Tough [commercial closet]

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Comments

  1. Not quite sure I see the homophobia. I have no problems with it.

    Posted by: Damien Tilden | Apr 6, 2006 1:30:45 PM


  2. I thought the ad was funny. I am not sure that is a gay (more 70th and Park to me) look but rather a look that it is opposite of what the guy looked like before. The fairy is female. Some groups just like to find fault in everything. It's how they generate contributions, professional naysayer and victims.

    Posted by: Donald | Apr 6, 2006 1:37:09 PM


  3. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this ad for Chryse Sakes! Any objections are just more PC bullsh*t taken to the extreme. The next thing we know these PC idiots will be banning Tinkerbell and labelling Jack McFarlen an enemy combatant. This kind of objection is no different than the AFA harrassing WalMart over BBM DVD's.

    Posted by: Jeff | Apr 6, 2006 1:41:49 PM


  4. This ad is the equvalent of a gay joke followed by "Not that there's anything wrong with that." At some point the humor has to stop being seen as offensive and start being seen as a ribbing. Besides, that fairy was making things cuter after all. Can we take it as a half-compliment, half-joke? Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    Posted by: David | Apr 6, 2006 1:41:49 PM


  5. equivalent

    Posted by: David | Apr 6, 2006 1:43:04 PM


  6. i'm a big fan of subway cars and am incensed that one would be changed into a choo choo train.

    Posted by: joe | Apr 6, 2006 1:46:30 PM


  7. I am so glad you posted about this. The first time I saw this commercial my jaw dropped. I couldn't quite believe my eyes. Then sure enough the second time around confirmed my suspicions and I started asking everyone if they percieved this commercial the same way I did. Nobody seemed to have a reaction. I was starting to wonder if anyone would notice. Anyway, it's not a huge deal, disappointing maybe. But they sure do know their market: Middle-American, gas guzzlin' yee-hah's with no taste.

    Posted by: Kevin | Apr 6, 2006 1:48:30 PM


  8. I agree with you, Andy. The ad really isn't about homophobia as much as the inability to make the Caliber a cutsey-mobile. It's kinda lame but inventive. What about the Milky Way commercial where the candybar becomes a sexy woman who says things to make the dump guy feel better. Doesn't the commerical make the straight guy seem like a doofus who's so needy that he needs talking candybar to boost his deflated ego?

    Frankly, I find Queer Eye's minstrels far more offensive. The whole jumping around some straight guy's room and looking criticizing his dirty underwear. On the one hand it's freaky and on the other it's subservient in the mammy-is-here to make the white folks all better way (see Stephen King's "The Green Mile").

    BTW, how do we know that the bald guy walking his dog isn't a butch gay man instead of presuming he's straight?

    Anyway, today's NYTIMES.com has an article about anti-feminist streak in many of today's TV shows, like Desperate Housewives, Lost, and The Unit. The article explains that none of the shows presents strong women who are able to stand on their own. They are either purposely created to be screwed up or defined by their love or misguided love for men. Another show discused is Big Love, in which 3 women are married to one man. The article asks why would three women fight over one man instead of finding one true love along with career and family.

    I think this is the same problem with gay images in the media. While there are images of gays, too often they are stereotypic and unreflective of a positive image of a strong gay person who is happy with his/her gayness. People talk about Jack of Will and Grace, but the far more dysfunctional character is Will. Jack is a flamer but one with a better sexual nature who's more comfortable in his skin. Will, on the other hand, is neurotic and unable to ever land a steady man. Yeah, he's more "masculine" but he ain't getting any lovin' and he's still into show tunes. (Sorry, but I've never been one for show tunes. What can I say except I fell asleep watching Cats and the rest of it drove me nuts! Wonderful Mr. Mestoph-a-dreck!)

    Posted by: noah | Apr 6, 2006 1:49:49 PM


  9. Don't see anything wrong with teh commerical at all. Saw it on TV a few times and never even thought that the "transformed" guy at the end might be gay, until I read about it earlier today.

    We have plenty of issues worth getting upset about. Looking so hard that we find problems where they don't exist doesn't help anyone.

    Posted by: dolphin | Apr 6, 2006 1:51:13 PM


  10. More fairies and less A&F!!!!!!!

    Posted by: busytimmy | Apr 6, 2006 1:53:07 PM


  11. When I saw the AD I thought that at first it was about cuteness, but when the man makes the comment about "Silly Fairy", I found that offensive, because the only context I've ever heard a man of that apparent manly stereotype say something about fairies is when talking about homosexuals in a derogatory way. If it was just the fairy without the man making the comment then I'd have no problem with it.

    Posted by: Scott A | Apr 6, 2006 1:53:29 PM


  12. Chrysler, just put down the crack pipe.

    A butch blue color worker laughs at the "silly little fairy" who then...makes him...a silly little fairy complete with girlish exclamation (Oh!...can't you just hear the unspoken, "you bitch"?), polo shirt, shorts, and 4 small dogs on pink leashes. He didn't get "cuter" (at least to my tastes, YMMV)...he got stereotypically gayed.

    I don't know if it's *homophobic* per se but it does reinforce stereotypes. Can't we just quit that?

    Posted by: Steve | Apr 6, 2006 1:56:38 PM


  13. Thanks for the post, Towle. I am glad some people seem to agree with me.

    I still think the ad is homophobic and Dodge's response goes to prove it. They play with stereotypes but don't like it when we perceive the stereotype to be treated badly? Bad Dodge.

    And to be certain, I have no problem at all with stereotypes. I love the fact that Jack is a queen. I think we, the gays, owe a lot to the queens. We need visibility. What we don't need is to be smacked to the side of the road. Also, pointing and making fun of different people is not nice. Period.

    Posted by: Queer Beacon | Apr 6, 2006 1:58:02 PM


  14. I`m not sure the ad is homophobic but I did think Chrysler`s response was. Anyway, I preferred him before he got Tinkerbelle`d. And oddly, he looked gayer - maybe the joke`s on them.

    Posted by: Peter Rivendell | Apr 6, 2006 2:06:33 PM


  15. Steve, maybe you are a stereotypical gay man but I look more like the butch blue collar worker. I found it funny. Relax... get over yourself, babe.

    Posted by: Ozzie | Apr 6, 2006 2:08:17 PM


  16. Looks pretty homophobic to me.

    Posted by: protogenes | Apr 6, 2006 2:11:11 PM


  17. Queer bashing? A little. But I'm so relieved to share Andy's - and mostly Noah's - opinion, basically. We got no business flipping over this tame shit when we turn 5 hateful, bitchy queens into celebs because they adore exposed brick. And, yes, the A&F and D&G stuff is far, far worse.

    Posted by: Jacko | Apr 6, 2006 2:12:15 PM


  18. The implication is clearly that this fairy turned the guy gay--c'mon, the little doggies, the little shorts, the socks pulled up to the knees, the sweater wrapped around the neck--each of which by itself may not be much, but when you put it together the wink-wibnk, nudge-nudge is there, though I give the PR rep credit for his clever defense ("Is everyone who wears colored shirts gay?")

    As for Jack MacFarland, Max Mutchnik and whatever his name is should be ashamed of themselves for what they let Jack become (first few years were good). And how Sean Hayes played such a sadly sterotypical character all those years is beyond me. But then again, so is higher calculus. And lower, for that matter.

    Posted by: Peter | Apr 6, 2006 2:13:50 PM


  19. If Carlton from Fresh Prince was gay, then yeah, that's a homophobic ad. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge he wasn't. He just dressed like an uptight nerd. Who wore pastels and a white sweater vest crossed over. his shoulders...

    Posted by: Seangstm | Apr 6, 2006 2:21:51 PM


  20. The way I view it, the fairy turned that butch, pit bull walking bear into a closted conservative Christian. Besides, what gay man would wear white socks AND pull them up...seriously.

    Posted by: Larry | Apr 6, 2006 2:22:34 PM


  21. My first impression, when the guy pointed and said in that sneering voice that every gay guy knows, "silly little fairy", that this ad was totally homophobic. I didn't post about it, because I was afraid of overreacting. But It's good to know that I'm not the only one who thinks that way. Mind you, in the end, the silly little fairy is not to be fooled with!

    Posted by: Spence | Apr 6, 2006 2:25:22 PM


  22. Seems like the tag line is really "anything but gay." May seem harmless to some to use a gay caricature as a negative image but ultimatley the goal is to sell cars using homphobia (assuring buyers they are the opposite of gay). Pretty lame attempt I agree, but not fair to let them get away with it either.

    Posted by: Dan | Apr 6, 2006 2:27:18 PM


  23. Peter...Why $ean Haye$ played $uch a $sadly $tereotypical character all tho$e year$ $houldn't be beyond anyone...I think it'$ obviou$.

    And the guy in the commercial doesn't look stereotypically gay to me...maybe Old Pasadena Money Retiree Has a BBQ on the Estate. I mean, none of the homos I know would wear an outfit like that: Dykes don't do pastels, drag queens have better taste, Radical Faeries are into scarves and flowing robe-like clothes, Daddies like denim & leather...oh no! I'm stereotyping...well slap my ass & call me a silly fairy.

    Posted by: basis4insanity | Apr 6, 2006 2:29:06 PM


  24. I haven't seen the ad yet (don't watch much TV and don't have sound on the office computer), but Chrysler's logic seems specious to me. If an advertisement put an actor in a heavy black coat, gave him a large hook nose and shaggy black beard and a black hat, and had him muttering in a heavy Eastern European accent about trying to find a bargain, would I be jumping to conclusions if I perceived him as a stereotypical Jew? Sure, not all Jews look like that and he could just be someone from Eastern Europe who prefers black clothes, but it would take a great stretch of the imagination to view him as anything BUT a Jew. And from what I can make of this ad, it would take a great stretch of the imagination to view the transformed man as anything but a sissy faggot queer. Which is exactly what I believe the ad makers were going for. The real question is whether you find that offensive.

    Posted by: David | Apr 6, 2006 2:29:45 PM


  25. Hey I think Disney has a copywright case here -- but we are reaching here -- relax, think happy thoughts, that will keep Tinkerbell alive!

    Posted by: David Barber | Apr 6, 2006 2:39:08 PM


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