Wednesday, June 2, 2010

McDonald's French gay ad: Venez comme vous êtes!

I have watched this commercial many times trying to decide how I feel.  I think that it is great to have a gay character in a McDonalds ad, particularly because McDonalds has worked hard to have a family image.  Family includes all of our GLBT loved ones; however, the fact that the character is still so clearly closeted is disturbing.  Why not take the next step and have him be out to his father? Would it really have been that hard to show a loving relationship between an openly gay teen, and a parent? Depression and suicide rates are particularly high amongst LGBT youths, and I think the more positive representation the better.

I do think that this video does serve as a teaching moment for heterosexual parents. In the commercial the father assumes his son is straight. 

Too bad all there are only boys in the class, you get all the girls

This sends a message to his son that a gay identity would be a disappointment, thus making it harder for this child to come out.  Straight parents need to think about the heterosexist assumptions we make in everyday conversation with our children.  It could be perceived as us not loving them for who they are, if they don’t identify as straight.  Small things like talking to your son about his future wife assumes an identity for him that may not in fact be his.  Using gender neutral terms like future partner helps to ensure that your child knows that they are loved no matter what.

I don’t think McDonalds hit it out of the park with this commercial, but I do believe that it is the start of a conversation.  Once again, LGBT representation in the mainstream is aimed at dominate bodies and not a marginalized group, and that is also a problem.  Not only does the community need to be represented, it needs to be done in  a way that is not always about teaching straight people about homophobia, but as an affirmation that being gay and lesbian is indeed a good and indeed normal.   Imagine how this commercial would have changed had he stayed on the phone and told his father that he was talking to his boyfriend -- and then they proceeded to eat the heat attack on a plate McDonalds together.  That scenario would have sent a far more positive message for all concerned.