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Inordinate Ordnance: Of Gay Rights and Gorillas

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

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Written by Chris Carr

In the Silver age of comics, there was a mandate that at least more than half of comics on shelves should feature an ape—more specifically, a gorilla. From 1956 to around 1970, somebody, somewhere decided that gorillas sold more comics and this was true. There was an odd fascination with the mighty animals, so much so, kids wanted to read more and more about them. The point being, if you draw Jimmy Olsen marrying a lady-gorilla (which they actually did), on average, it would equal a higher revenue for the comic book company (as opposed the comics of the non-gorilla variety).

The interest in the Gorilla, during the sixties was compounded by movies like King Kong and Planet of the Apes. Gorillas were the 1960s equivalent to sparkly vampires—they were in, they were cool and people wanted to learn more about them. And marketers (good marketers) saw this and had the gumption to tap into it, and reap the coinage of comic book nerds and comic book nerds who grew up to be columnists *tips hat, winks*.

Okay, now follow me here, because this jump is a bit of a rocky one. Keep the gorillas in mind as I start to talk about Oreos.

Recently, Kraft put out an ad campaign featuring a sextupled layered Oreo, with each layer coloured a different colour of the rainbow. The ad is in support of Gay Pride month. If you haven’t seen it, you really should open that laptop more because its implementation has sparked quite the controversy over the internet. Much of the comments show support, but of course, there is the militant group of anti-gay bigots, possibly from the thirtieth parallel.

Kraft is not the first to have such progressive ad campaigns. GAP recently featured an ad with two men, in a family setting with the words, “Be One”. JC Penny, after recruiting Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson came under fire from equally-bigoted group, One Million Moms for their pro-gay advertising choices.  As well, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company has come out (no pun intended) with a flavour of ice cream that featured a rainbow-coloured wedding cake. It’s called Apple-y Ever After.

It’s important to understand why these companies are making such progressive choices. The liberal in me, hopes its in support, but the skeptic, feels there may be more fiscal, sinister motives a foot.

You may be asking yourself, “But what does this have to do with Gorillas?” or maybe you stopped reading, in that case, I probably lost you at inter-species-matrimony. For those of you still with me, think about this: hating people simply because of their sexuality, is wrong. I can throw a same-sex wedding cake from my office window and hit twelve people who will not only agree with me, but vehemently fight anyone who says the contrary. This is the correct response, the support of love is the support of same-sex relationships.

 The places where money changes hands and the bigger market decisions are made, happen to also be some of the most progressive (think Los Angeles and New York). They also happen to be the most populated. Progressive, populated places tend to defend gay rights, and therefore dictate other progressive thinkers around the country/world. So, it makes sense to advertise directly to these people by sheer population alone. It’s like prison, find the biggest guy in the room, knock him out first and the rest will follow.

“Get to the Gorillas, Chris. I came for the Gorillas.” You might be saying and here it comes. It may be that the correct way to act regarding gay rights may also coincide with the trend of the times. “Are you saying being gay is trendy?” say the hordes of my opinionated readers. I can hear the fists pound the desks. No. I am not saying that, however, it is much easier to get on in a progressive community if you aren’t a bigot and that is true. Now the marketers at the GAP, Kraft and JC Penny are taking note of this and are affectively cashing in on the concept of political correctness.

I bought Oreos today. I did it to counter-act the bigots circulating around Kraft’s pro-gay advertising campaign. In essence, if you buy Oreos, you support gay rights (and you should). The finicky part about this is, is the trend of marketers tapping into this political environment and making scads of money from it. Pro-gay rights advertising is the like the Gorilla on the cover of the 1960s. It is just a tool to make you buy more Oreos. I don’t even like Oreos, but now I have them in my cupboard because of this (albeit completely successful) ad campaign.

I’m just saying, the skeptic in me, while being stuffed with Oreos, doesn’t want to see the strife of the queer community turn into a gimmick for selling mediocre cookies. I’m sure the support is well received, however, I urge others to be aware that Kraft is out to make money, not change the social climate.

Don’t let the colours of the rainbow flag become just another Gorilla fad.

 

Chris Carr is Editor-in-Chief of The Cannon. Inordinate Ordnance publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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