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Product placement and brand loyalty

June 2, 2011

Season 2 of Glee has ended, I never watched an episode of it, and damn near every time I hear something about the show, it’s about hand-wringing over non-hetero relationships. If I were more inclined to watch TV, I might have bothered to see what the fuss was about. Instead, I get to facepalm at the thought that someone out there thinks these media hype circuses are all for the benefit of straight guys. Like I’m supposed to associate “televised portrayal of same-sex attraction between high-school kids” with “product placement” and not “any song that had to be licensed in order for the producers to keep the lawyers at bay”…

I’m still not certain how any of this is supposed to benefit any heterosexual man so much as it is meant to dumb us down and operate as an attack on common sense, among other things. Think about it, if a man has a rather high chance of being attracted to some kind of woman or another, then why waste time fearing that he will not only become attracted to other men, but that he will become exclusively attracted to other men? All that line of thinking really does is belittle the attraction that has given us some of our current population of 6-point-something billion. On top of that, it hides whatever cultural forces have transpired to make us rather spend time aggressively despising some boogeyman out to corrupt the precious, limited attraction between men and women rather than identifying whatever makes clinging to that fear more comforting than calling it out and prying the boogeyman apart from our identities. I find it an unusual occurrence when someone else does actually go far enough with wondering what had to have happened between men and women to make the idea of turning away from one another such an attractive idea (pardon the pun), whether the answer be feminism, a drooping economy, or the slovenliness of typical life. Not as trivial as an episode of Glee or anything BioWare has put out since 2008, and more relevant to boot.

To the extent that homosexuality has been “glamorized”, it may as well be regarded as a niche market in the marketplace of sexual ideas rather than the near-monopoly that some would prefer to see it as. Compared to the threat that glamorizing thug culture poses to Black (and Latino to a lesser extent) communities, the average media mention of the first centers on a quasi-certainty that just about anyone would want to turn gay without much of the critical questioning directed towards what the latter has to offer to those susceptible to it. What would thug culture offer to a Black man? To a Black woman? To a black person living in the hood and without any serious job prospects? To a middle-class black person that has a steady income to sustain a living? To an upper-class black person with no immediate or short-term financial worries? How each of those questions would be answered depends mostly on how one experiences life in each circumstance. Now suppose we ask the same thing about what homosexuality, men, and women. What does homosexuality offer to a man, or a woman? What does it offer to a man that has to deal with one set of standards, a woman that has to deal with another set of standards, and to both of them regardless of standards? Would it offer more to a man who is attracted to women no matter who approves of the attraction or to a man who is attracted to women only for the approval of others? Without seriously asking and answering these questions, we’re doomed to repeating these cliche sex panics and losing pieces of our sanity every time. Whether the sanity is lost to our cultural zeitgeist or a Lovecraftian horror would be a moot point if the end result is one more mind twisted into self-inflicted despair — a despair that could be staved off through remembering the idea of brand loyalty. Even if Modern Warfare 3 turns out to be hottest game of the year and break another record, I won’t look forward to Tales of Graces F any less the hottest gay guys an ad agency could find suddenly swarm the public as if they were being controlled by pro StarCraft players, I won’t look forward to the next attractive woman I want to meet any less.  Why?  Because I’m comfortable with the “brand” enough to not need to fear being easily swayed by “product placement” or despise consumers of another brand just because they exist and have something I don’t.  The lack of “buyer’s remorse” can work that kind of wonder upon the mind.

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