Monday, April 23, 2012

I See Gay People

This year's Jerry Falwell Teletubby Memorial Award goes to ... Tony Perkins!
These days, you can't get a sugar high without experiencing a cultural low. Hello, I'm Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. There's trouble in candy land. After more than 70 years together, Mike & Ike are calling it quits. The duo is staging a gay divorce as part of a new ad campaign to draw in younger customers. In this society, even candy has an agenda! From Facebook to Tumblr, the fruity pair says, "The rumors are true. We just couldn't agree on stuff anymore." Starting this summer, the company will spend $15 million on billboards and TV commercials that poke fun at the breakup. It's just another subtle example of society chipping away at the value of marriage. And I don't know what's more disturbing--that advertisers think divorce appeals to kids or that sexualizing candy will make people buy more.

I suppose at least Perkins has the fact that Mike & Ike have two dudely-sounding names and are presented as being in a marriage -- all Falwell had to go on was Tinky Winky's triangle symbol and purple color. But it's tough to live up to a legend like Falwell -- kudos to Perkins for giving it his best shot.

1 comment:

PG said...

I suspect that Perkins has been misinformed about the nature of Mike & Ike's relationship, probably based on bad HuffPo headlines.

The NYT article on the marketing ploy never said they were supposed to be in a romantic relationship, much less a same-sex marriage -- instead, it was compared to breakups of partnerships like John Lennon's and Paul McCartney's or Kobe's and Shaq's. The Times's take is pretty well-supported by the company's social media:

Ike posted on Tumblr:
"I know it’s hard to believe, but yes – Mike and I split. It is what it is. We just couldn’t agree on stuff anymore. Some call it creative differences? Whatever. The guy is awesome, if you don’t count that he’s color blind. Lime is green dude! Cherry is red, not purple. Get it? Go write some songs since that seems to be where your focus is right now."

Mike shared his side:
"Heard about Ike and me splitting up? Yeah, it’s true. We just don’t agree on the candy. My red, his red, my lime, his lime, my box ideas, his box ideas. So over it. Instead of all this hassle, now I’m just gonna jam. Been laying down heat with my friend Blaze. Planning to hit all the music capitals in the next few months. No sitting at home solo playing Words With Friends (that’s something Ike would do)."

Perkins's comments are reflective not only of his own neuroses but of a general Western cultural tendency to assume all important adult relationships must be romantic. It's a tendency that's also really contrary to the norms of the children's demographic that the company is targeting. I remember how ridiculously fraught breakups between former BFFs could get in elementary and middle school -- other girls would be forced to "choose sides," etc. That seems to be what the company is trying to gin up with references to being on "Team Mike" or "Team Ike." (Something that makes sense for a romantic *rivalry*, as with Edward/Jacob in Twilight or Aniston/Jolie for Brad Pitt, but not for a breakup of the couple.)