Vancouver
2 min

Hawking Special K

Gay stereotypes in ads

It’s appropriate that a gay character would be hawking Special K, a breakfast cereal that shares its name with a recreational drug. At least I think he’s gay; that, or he’s really in touch with his feminine side for a straight guy.

There are two versions of the ad. In one, what I can only assume is a gay admin and his BFF, prance in on their prettier co-worker who is eating Special K and having an orgasm. The pair grill the skinny bitch about her figure.

“Who is he?” the gay admin teases. In real life he would have been like, “Vomiting? Diet Pills?”

My first impulse was to hate the ads. Why do they always have to rely on stereotypes to illustrate a person is gay? Like the Secret deodorant ad with the bitchy gay boss; his smarmy assistant gets him the right material and he practically tears her a new hole. Again, I’m only assuming the boss is gay, but if he’s straight, then he’s a pair of earrings away from becoming a drag queen.

Then I thought about it. How else do you imply a person is gay without resorting to stereotypes?

Portray a same-sex couple in an ad, as IKEA did, and you risk becoming the subject of a man-on-the-street segment for a Seattle newscast. The reporter asked passers-by for their reaction to an IKEA flier with a picture of two men at home with a child. Most people just shrugged their shoulders; one person didn’t notice it was a same-sex couple, but the last woman argued, “There should be a momma in that picture.”

Yeah? Well momma’s on crack and living on the street, so I guess the homos will have to do.

Last week at work I was chatting in the break room with another admin —okay, my BFF —and we were talking about the usual things: yoga, our weight, men and how much we hate them. I might as well have been wearing slippers and curlers. Then it hit me.

“Holy crap,” I said to my BFF, “I’m the homo from the Special K commercial!”

“I thought so too,” she said, “but I was afraid to say anything.”

The truth hurts but sometimes it’s painfully funny.

You have to give credit where credit is due: Kellogg’s certainly knows its demographic. But if stereotypes exist in nature, does that make it okay to put them in an ad? That depends on how you feel about effeminate men.

That these ads aren’t preceded by a parental warning is progress in and of itself, but when it’s two straight guys asking the homo which hot guy inspired his switch to Special K, then I’ll know we’ve arrived.