By Jason Menard
Can you believe they made those kids say fuck?
And there lies the line of demarcation between an extremely powerful message and going just a little too far.
If you haven’t seen it yet, please check out the YouTube video for FCKH8.com, an organization dedicated to fighting for equal access to marriage to both gay and straight couples. The ad encourages you to purchase a shirt, which would show your support for the cause. Through the purchase price, you are donating to the cause.
It’s fast-paced, often funny, dynamic, inspiring.
It also has kids dropping the f-bomb.
And that’s where all the positive momentum just falls off the rails. In fact, the designers of this commercial completely missed out on what the true offensive moment was. During the ad, the build-up is all geared towards the same-sex kisses. Sorry folks, it’s 2010 – even the mainstream is over that taboo, for the most part.
Yes, there are pockets of people to whom seeing two men kiss may be shocking. They may register disgust; they may avert their eyes. They’re also not the people who will be watching this ad.
The truly offensive part? The young boy and young girl swearing. You want to talk about taboo? There you go.
It takes a lot to offend me. I’m extremely open minded and I really don’t care who does what with whom. I don’t feel the need to say, “I have a number of gay friends” to validate my argument simply because I don’t care what anybody does between the sheets. It’s none of my business and what I do is none of theirs.
I also have openly supported gay marriage in the past – and continue to do so – simply because it’s the right thing to do and I feel that by denying any couple the right to marry, you’re cheapening the concept of marriage for us all. It’s not a religious issue, as marriage predates Christianity, despite what right-wingers may want to believe – it’s an issue of human decency.
I also know that several people disagree with me. And that’s OK. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but when it comes to human rights, opinion does not have a place. You can disagree with the idea of two guys marrying – that’s your right. But to deny them the right? That should be illegal.
But how does having two kids swearing like drunken sailors improve the delivery of your message? It doesn’t. It’s cheap shock value that only serves to undermine the quality of your message. Already you played a tired-out shock card with the kissing. Adding swearing kids is gratuitous.
A few people I know have seen this and the reaction’s all the same: “great message, but those kids? I don’t know.” If you’re only looking for eyeballs, then this may be a great idea – after all, some right-wing whack job will take the bait, run with this, and there will be a great national debate on the fact that these kids are swearing. And maybe you’ll get a few more people to watch the message.
But what will they be focusing on? The very real, very important call to action to support the rights for all to marry? No. They’ll be watching the circus freak show of kids swearing, possibly reinforcing their misguided ideas that supporters of this right are deviant, and completely missing the true point of the message.
One key component of communications is getting the right message out to the right people. Were the designers of this ad trying to drum up support or controversy? Were they really hoping to rally people around the cause and create awareness, or were they just looking at ways to push buttons? Sure, they may draw several more eyes to the message than before, but they’re being drawn to the wrong one.
But it’s cool. They got some little kids to say fuck. How daring. How shocking. How rebellious.
I just hope it was worth obscuring the cause.