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ESPN Produces NBA Shaq Ad with Homophobic Undertones


ESPN has produced a commercial for NBA on ESPN that, while not overtly bashing gays, contains undertones that can be construed as homophobic. The ad features NBA commenter Mike Breen and Shaquille O'Neal in the NBA on ESPN van. After Breen shoots a basket he asks Shaq for a fist bump which he calls a "fist kiss."

Fistkiss_2Replies Shaq while physically moving away from Breen on the sofa: "No fist kiss, no fiss love, no fist hump. None of that. You're a weirdo man. Stay over there. Fist kiss. Disgusting."

First of all, when has anyone ever called it a "fist kiss"? The term itself seems contrived simply for the dramatic purpose of causing Shaq's "icky" reaction. Anyway, aside from all that, the commercial is moronic at best.

Former NBA player John Amaechi told AfterElton: "I think the ad is in poor taste; it just seems like another signal of yet another flagging, unimaginative, desperate, clutching-at-straws marketing department grasping for the lowest common denominator. It seems so out of character to ESPN ads of old. It makes me feel disappointed, but not angry in anyway...the ad itself is just too tenuous to even bother getting riled about. The character's reaction to the "fist kiss" is of course homophobic, the subtext is that a man asking another man for any kind of kiss, even a 'fist kiss' should be met with repulsion - I am surprised Shaq went anywhere near this ad, given I don't think that would be his true intention or belief; but as a player, I too would have disparaging words to say about someone calling 'fist bumps' anything like "fist kisses" - simply because it's massively dumb ."

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. The Super Bowl has ALWAYS been completely HOMOPHOBIC!!! It's not just one commercial. Wake up!

    Posted by: zeke star | Feb 2, 2009 9:31:57 AM

  2. The commercial is not a Super Bowl commercial.

    Posted by: don | Feb 2, 2009 9:35:04 AM

  3. Shaq has an inferiority complex. He doesn't think that gay guys are attracted to him, and that bothers a lot of straight know, the ones that just don't have that "something extra".

    Cheer up, Shaq, every big jock can't be a Michael Strayhan,

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Feb 2, 2009 10:30:17 AM

  4. Good for Shaq! It's time all Americans took a stand against these terrorist fist kisses.

    Posted by: paul c | Feb 2, 2009 10:42:01 AM

  5. Funny comment about the inferiority complx of straight guys who dont arouse gay dudes. I remember when 20 years ago, one guy was SO disappointed - it was after 5 beers - that I wasn't going after him. Especially because I had banged 4 of his friends over the past year: and he kind of knew about it and was jealous! That was so funny!

    Posted by: Statouder | Feb 3, 2009 12:32:25 AM

  6. I can understand why this ad is mildly offensive and how it underscores how idiotic the fear "straight" men have of the potential expression of love/eros between himself and another man, or of being perceived as "effeminate" (fist kiss, instead of fist bump). Personally it is more troubling for a major cable network to capitalize on these fears. Such moves by companies reinforce wrong-headed social perceptions of masculinity and femininity, ultimately legitimizing and regulating how people should act based on their gender identity and combining this with sexual orientation to prescribe correct and incorrect ways to express one's gender identity based on whom one prefers to have sex with.

    All that being said, I wouldn't necessarily call this ad "homophobic." There has to be a better word. By calling it homophobic, we are assuming that the characters in the ad are either expressing fear of or hatred toward gay people or gay sex. To me, it seems that they were critiquing, and registering their disapproval of, the "subversion" gender "norms," i.e., two dudes shouldn't engage in fist kissing. By calling this ad homophobic, ee are assuming that the characters here have taken the mental leap of yoking the American masculine gender norm to the social expression of being gay, and perhaps to sex acts between men.

    However (and here I'm halfway speculating, and halfway making a joke), I am not convinced that after a few beers and advances by a masculine pal/teammate, in which the prospect of a sex act is not expressed in terms of something phonetically wilty (and thus interpreted as effeminate) like a "fist kiss," with all its threatening s's -- but maybe something more like "y'e'er been curious 'bout messin' around with another dude?" -- that Shaq, either the character in the ad or the former basketball star in real life -- would not take him up on his offer.

    The point is that this seems more like a fear of effeminacy and less a fear about a potential act of man-on-man love. It's not about the gay sex act, it's about how the proposition for it is expressed.

    We should consider carefully which words we use to describe the array of neurotic fears that people have when it comes to gender norms and non-heterosexual sexual identity, not as a way to apologize for the sheer idiocy of these fears and their being played upon by multi-billion dollar corporations like ESPN, but as a way to identify more precisely how such social problems affect our community.

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Feb 3, 2009 11:23:20 AM

  7. I suspect that this ad was actually intended to satirize and exploit the nonsense that surrounded the Obamas' "fist bump;" particularly in light of the fact that a Fox news anchor recently referred to what the Obamas did as "fisting." Though, of course that doesn't mean that the other points that have been made aren't true as well.

    Posted by: Jane | Feb 4, 2009 3:21:30 AM

  8. Definitely not one of Shaq's finer moments. It's not okay to bash gays on any network. What they did was just plain wrong.

    Posted by: Daymon The Basketeere | Feb 4, 2009 4:08:28 AM

  9. Wow that is really interesting

    Posted by: bucket truck | Nov 19, 2010 10:52:50 AM

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