Two from The Advocate

In the latest (Oct./Nov. 2014) issue of The Advocate (the glossy newsmagazine targeting an lgbt audience), two items with some linguistic interest: an ad campaign from Burger King choosing wording to frame its ads for this audience; and an instance of the first X to …, with a domain X that at first seems preposterously particular but turns out to be possibly useful after all.

This particular issue has a theme — lgbt issues in the economy (including reports on “equality allies”. companies with excellent diversity records — MasterCard, Toyota, Wells Fargo Advisors, and HP — and one report on a company with a spectacularly poor record, Exxon Mobil) — plus the usual assortment of features on all sorts of topics. The cover features a queer version of the Merrill Lynch bull, for the economic topic:

(#1)

The Proud Whopper. From this section of the magazine, a piece on a Burger King campaign this summer, ‘How Proud Is the Proud Whopper?: The new slogan “Be your way” was part of a Burger King Proud Whopper project. Is it actually what the company believes, or is this corporate lip service?” by Jeffrey Self:

This summer Burger King premiered the “Proud Whopper” in celebration of Pride, and the project was publicized nationwide in press releases, in videos on Burger King’s YouTube page, and in interviews in mainstream media with the company’s marketing executives. Proceeds of that burger’s sales were donated to an LGBT college scholarship fund. Pretty cool, right? Alas, the burger was available only at one location in San Francisco, the promotion ran only until July 3 (the press release The Advocate received was dated July 2), and while the company has supported LGBT events in some cities before, it appears to lack any substantial commitment to LGBT equality. It still maintains a low HRC Corporate Equality Index rating of 55 (out of 100)

… The Proud Whopper was, in fact, exactly the same as the regular Whopper except that it was wrapped in a rainbow paper; inside the wrapper text read, we are all the same inside. It’s a clever, sweet message. Support should always be welcome, unless it’s mere marketing luring LGBTs to spend money on a company that does not live up to its claims.

(#2)

The campaign consists of naming (the “Proud Whopper”) and sloganeering (“We are all the same inside”), but otherwise it appears to be solid cynical manipulation. (That the campaign was limited to one store, in the gay-heavy section of San Francisco, and lasted for only a few weeks, in the high Pride season, is especially damning.)

Here’s a self-congratulatory video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBkAAortU_g

{A note on why Burger King is so coy about its support for lgbt causes. It’s a mass-market company whose clientele is substantially economically low-end, a population many of whose members, esecially the men, are hostile to lgbt people, especially gay men: in fact, many of them report that gay symbols, in particular the rainbow flag and the pink triangle, immediately bring to their minds man-man anal intercourse, and they are offended and enraged. So Burger King has some reason to be cautious about any embrace of the rainbow as a pride symbol. And then they cravenly chose to try to have it both ways.)

The first X. Then, in the arts & entertainment section of this Advocate, a piece by Jase Peeples, “Holy Diversity, Batman!: Women, queer characters, and people of color in positions of power shine brighter than the Bat-Signal in Fox’s latest comic-inspired TV series, Gotham“, in the middle of which we read (crucial part boldfaced):

Debuting in Batman No. 475, [the character Renee] Montoya became a favorite among LGBT comic readers when she was outed as lesbian in the 2003 comic book series Gotham Central. Her appearance in the TV series Gotham will mark not only the first time a lesbian character has appeared in a live-action adaptation of Batman’s world but also the first time a lesbian of color will be a recurring character on any prime-time superhero series.

On first reading, I assumed that the progressive narrowing-down of the category in question by a series of qualifying expressions was just an attempt to find something newsworthy (however tiny) in the television series — along the lines of “the first left-handed lesbian to fly a biplane across Kansas from west to east”. (Sports statistics sometimes descend to this level of particularity, especially in baseball.)

But on reflection I came to see that there was some point in the description, in that it picked out a category that was likely to be of significance to the readers of the magazine, both lesbians and people of color being thin on the ground as central characters in the world of imaginative fantasy.

 

 

One Response to “Two from The Advocate”

  1. Two from Out | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] A blog mostly about language « Two from The Advocate […]

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