BOB GARFIELD: [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] And speaking of commentary, this week the subject of my ad criticism column in Advertising Age was a commercial from the U.K. for Snickers candy bars. It featured a speed walker in tight shorts wiggling his butt goofily down the street, too goofily for Mr. T, who charged after him in a pickup truck, hollering this. [CLIP] MR. T: Speed walking? I pity you, fool. You a disgrace to the man race. It’s time to run like a real man. [SOUND OF GUNSHOTS] Take that — [END CLIP] BOB GARFIELD: “You a disgrace to the man race. Get some nuts.” This was not only the latest in a cluster of TV ads ridiculing men deemed insufficiently masculine by the sponsor, it was Snickers’ second such in six months.
But, unlike January’s Super Bowl spot, featuring two auto mechanics in an accidental kiss and their panicked homophobic reactions, the Mr. T ad was explicitly homophobic itself. The girly man race walker gets mowed down with a candy bar Gatling gun for the crime of looking like a sissy a repulsive exercise, all in all, and the ad was pulled globally by Thursday.
Shockingly, though, about half of the many readers who commented on the Ad Age website could see nothing wrong with the spot. Lighten up, they said. You’re being so PC, they said. It’s only a commercial, they said.
Yeah, it’s only a commercial that caricatures an objectionable other, dehumanizes him and makes him the victim of violence, like those hilarious German cartoons of Jews in the '30s. Ha, ha, ha. Yeah. Let's all lighten up. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER] This is On the Media from NPR.