Monday, May 23, 2011

While interning at the Boston Phoenix, I noticed ads in the newspaper giving the times and locations of gay and bisexual meet-up groups.

The ads had a drawing of a man dressed up in a 1950s-style suit, smoking a corncob pipe and with a thought bubble above his head showing a shirtless male body.  It struck me as a liberal person's idea of how a conservative man who's pretending on the outside that he isn't gay would look.  It didn't seem realistic--definitely more like a caricature.  The message seems to be: "Conservative men are hypocrites because, deep down, they're all secretly gay."  I realize that's not the (consciously) intended message.  But I wondered whether the ads had always been this way.

I checked some older issues of the Phoenix, and sure enough the "Are you gay or bisexual?" ads featured a different image.  It was a photograph of a man sitting and looking wistfully away.  The tone of the writing was different, too.  It described differently-themed meeting groups, including one group for men who thought they might be gay.  It didn't make assumptions about whether coming out as gay was an obvious question to resolve, or that it was the way of truth for conservatively-dressed people.

The older ads seemed more aware of reality.
The newer ads seemed more concerned with proving a point.

I bring this up, because there's a new Lady Gaga commercial for Google Chrome that shows clips of Gaga fans dancing in homemade YouTube videos.  One short clip shows a conservatively-dressed man dancing on his rooftop in a flamboyant fashion. The title of the clip is "On the Edge of Glory (on my roof!)" I took one look at him and thought, "He looks fake."

I became more convinced his video was fake after observing three things:
1.)  The username (dwnttwn90dj) links to a profile page whose videos have been removed.
2.)  The username joined YouTube May 16th, and the last visit date was 6 days ago (so May 17th?)  So the original video was removed long before the commercial which featured it was ever aired.
3.)  If you look closely at the clip, the guy's YouTube video is only three seconds long.  It's as if someone decided, "Let's get three seconds' worth of dancing and upload it."  Even if you filmed your own YouTube video as an audition piece for Lady Gaga's commercial, you'd damn well make sure it was longer than three seconds, so as to give the editors some leeway.

There is one other seemingly fake clip, titled "GAGA INSPIRED FASHION SHOW", with a full running length of four seconds. Most of the other clips in the commercial appear to have been made by legitimate fans:  People who either had their own YouTube channels beforehand, or who at least made minute-long audition clips so as to give the editors some leeway when making their cuts.

Granted, I'm assuming the usernames in the commercial are unaltered.  Would it really be that hard to photoshop them?  (Answer: No.)

But my impression is that the editors of the commercial felt it important to include at least one shot of a "conservatively-dressed" man dancing.  As well as one guy in eyeliner with a giant yellow flower.

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