Allahpundit is mystified:
French McDonald’s running gay-themed ads for … no apparent reason
More specifically: This isn’t an ad about how awesome the burgers are, with a gay protagonist singing the praises of Le Big Mac. That wouldn’t be a “gay-themed ad” so much as a “food-themed ad” with a gay pitchman.This is a true gay-themed ad, with the product almost wholly incidental to young Jacques experiencing l’amour fou with a guy while papa blathers on ironically about being a ladies’ man. Why’d McDonald’s do it? Er … no one seems to know. Apparently there was no anti-gay incident at McD’s over there that they’re trying to atone for. The obvious explanation is “controversy for controversy’s sake,” but I can’t believe French viewers will bat an eye. Maybe they hired a director who fancies himself an aspiring Godard and he simply decided to indulge his inner auteur, burgers be damned? All theories welcome!
Actually, maybe the “controversy” theory does make sense. Below you’ll find O’Reilly making an offhand comparison to Al Qaeda, which was enough to provide Media Matters with hours of content. It’s great when everyone wins, my friends.
As stated at the end of the O'Reilly clip, the ad is part of a series, showing different characters. I haven't looked at the other examples, but it's easy for me to understand the ad. Like many American ads I've seen over the last few decades, the viewer is drawn in by something other than the product itself. We're shown characters that interest us for some reason, and the product is woven in subtly in way that feels positive. In this example, we see a young man and understand something about him — he's gay — and then we see his father doesn't really get that, but they love each other and spend time with each other... at McDonald's. They don't share everything, but they can share a meal at McDonald's. It's really a typical McDonald's ad, showing the restaurant as an easy, comforting family place. It's not about controversy at all. It's about commonality. We're different in a lot of ways, but we can all agree that it will be good to eat at McDonald's. The ad is well-done, charming, and sweet, and it creates a good feeling about McDonald's.
Obviously, it is also true that the ad won't work on people who get riled when they see gay people presented as regular people who are part of ordinary life. I'm sure, back in 1980, some people didn't like to see a little white boy give his Coke to the black football player Mean Joe Green in the famous Super Bowl ad. And Coke might have thought about that. This will alienate some people who are not ready to see black and white people sharing a simple intimacy. But Coke chose to do the ad and take advantage of the good feeling it would give a lot of people, a feeling that would halo around the product. They were right, too.
When O'Reilly jokes about McDonald's doing an ad in this series showing a member of Al Qaeda, he's revealing that he thinks gay people are a group that most people view with justified hostility. McDonald's, operating in France, hasn't analyzed things that way. That's their judgment call, and I hope it's a good one.
Some people say that gay people should keep their sexuality private: Why does anyone need to hear about what anyone else does in bed? But the reaction to this ad shows how obtuse that is. This young man is looking at a photograph and talking to another male on the phone in a way that lets us know he's in love. It isn't at all leering or overtly sexual. It's mild and innocent. It doesn't make any sense to say that's something that belongs only in the bedroom. The idea that expression like this should be kept hidden only makes sense if you actually believe homosexuality is shameful.