I’ve just had a conversation with an acquaintance in which he proudly showed off a PSA-style advertisement that a friend of his made. The advertisement makes play on a very real and very problematic trope to get its point across, but I’m not going to say which as it’s not entirely a feminist issue and it is the response I wish to discuss here.
The ad was trying to be cute, and since it used adorable fluffy animals doing people things, it was. In that regard, it was cute. However, despite the pets-as-people gimmick, the toxic trope got in the way. It killed what I assume would otherwise have been enjoyment of the clip. Killed it dead.
See, the advertisement didn’t just use animals as faux-people; it equated a whole socially disadvantaged-by-circumstances section of society as animals, and did so in a really negative way.
The group to which this ad clip was displayed were, I guess, supposed to squee. We were supposed to adore the cuteness that the advertisement was using. But we couldn’t. I mentioned to some of the group elsewhere that I was choking on the trope. Some of those people also noticed it also, and mentioned it outright to the guy. He wasn’t impressed.
“It’s satire! It’s on broadcast TV!” he cried, as though satire makes everything ok. Or maybe it’s because typical everyday mass-media advertising morality is like totally awesomely awesome.
Then came the best part. Out he came with “You are the one who noticed it, not I, ergo you are the who thinks of those people that way, not I!”. Yep, you can mark that one off on the bingo board.
When have you, dear readers, had this one thrown back at you? How did you respond?