A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, February 12, 2007

Snicker, Snicker

This didn’t take long, but an overly sensitive world has already consigned a Super Bowl ad to the trash can. The object was a Snickers candy bar, and the lengths some people will go to get a taste of it. In the commercial, two mechanics are examining an auto engine in a repair shop. One mechanic opens the candy and sticks it in his mouth as he absent-mindedly looks over the engine. The other mechanic, seeing the candy bar sticking out of the first mechanic’s mouth, bites down on the other end. Both men eat away at their respective ends of the candy bar until their lips meet in the middle. Horrified, they both jump back, sure that they almost kissed. One of them suggests that they each do a manly act. Each rips hair off of their chest and yells out in pain.

Some gay groups objected on the grounds that it was homophobic and encourages violence against gays. One blogger even compared it to Matthew Shepherd. Subsequently the ad has been pulled from the television and the Internet.

Um, aren’t we going a bit overboard here?

Satire can be a prickly fruit. It can be seen to have a tough skin covering an idea that points to some foible cherished by society. The sweet flesh of the fruit makes a rewarding comment on the object, but we must beware. Sometimes the juice tastes sour to some, and instead of a humorous comment, the satire itself becomes part of the idea it is aimed at skewering. It is a blurry line; depending on which side of the line you stand, it can disappear entirely.

I believe that this is what has happened here. Let’s identify the object of the satire: the idea that two men kissing each other is unacceptable in society. Here we are asked to believe that two very straight, macho men accidentally do this deed while eating a candy bar. We could argue that the candy is a proxy for the apple Eve was warned against in the Garden of Eden. As for the candy bar being a phallic symbol, sorry, I’m not going there. We can readily identify the men’s orientation by their work (mechanics as opposed to, for an extreme example, hair stylists) and their work uniform. Yes, I agree that these are stereotypical ideas, but advertisers have to resort to such devices when it’s only a thirty second spot and there is a lot of material to cover.

The men discover what has happened and jump back away from each other and into their traditional heterosexual roles. Since sexual orientation is hard-wired into each of us (evangelical Christians will howl at this notion), then the act of one heterosexual kissing another heterosexual of the same sex is unnatural to them. Now let’s throw more weight on their shoulders with the idea of what would society think if they knew we kissed each other.

Quick, run for cover, and now we peel back another satirical fruit: the idea that men must reaffirm their heterosexuality by doing something brave and courageous, but not necessarily smart. They seem to be saying, “Look, we are real men. See how we can withstand pain!” If anything, the commercial points its farcical finger at the lengths heterosexual men will go to assert their manliness. I’m the one that should feel insulted, but guess what, I’m not. I consider this barb to score a bull’s eye on the dartboard of truth.

Okay, so we’re offended. Fine, let’s make sure no one is offended ever again. Let’s discard the ages old notion that comedy and its horrid by-product, laughter, is a truly human emotion that is necessary for survival. Let’s pass a Constitutional amendment to outlaw jokes. A snicker would be considered a misdemeanor, a guffaw a felony. All comedians should be banished and/or executed. Comedy Central should go dark with all possible haste. I dare say that these measures will lead to such a build-up of tension that the average life expectancy of every man and woman will be reduced to the age of 25. At that time, the internal stress in each of us would simply make our hearts explode.

Now, who’s leaping off the deep end?


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