The world has been a twitter, and in a flutter over an advertisement by French McDonalds and I’m not sure why. It’s just an ad and while conservative groups say that McDonalds as a corporation should keep their noses out of the minds of the world and have no place making “political social statements”, gay groups are hands in the air cheering for McDonalds for having the “courage” to create and air such an ad.
Title “Come as you are” the ad shows a young guy at McDonalds looking at a class picture when his phone rings, he answers it and affectionately touches the photo while telling the caller “I miss you too”. Then he has to go cause his father is returning to the table.
His father asks him if that is his class picture, and says how the boy looks like him when he was younger and how he “was quite the ladies man”. He says it is a shame his class is all males because “you could get all the girls”.
The boy gives him a smile and we see the super “venez comme vous êste” or “come as you are”.
So you see the conservatives are saying that McDonalds shouldn’t be saying it’s all right to be gay (as it has been implied the boy is). And gay groups are saying, YAY McDonalds you’re showing gay people to be normal people and accepting the gays.
But I say you have to ignore the conservatives, they are going to always bitch when anyone says anything they don’t like, and they don’t like a lot of things. Also I guess I see the ad differently to a lot of other gay people because I don’t like it’s message at all.
First you have this kid who is gay (we’re going to assume because McDonalds did their best to imply this without actually doing anything concrete to enforce the idea), but the kid is not out to his father (I can’t say parents cause his mum might know, we don’t know from the context of the ad) and feels he has to hide it from his father.
We don’t know why the kid is hiding it from his dad, we get no indication of how the dad react to the news. But we know because “My dad is coming, I have to hang up” that he’s isn’t comfortable with the idea of being gay. Anyone who really is isn’t concerned about who knows, it’s just part of who we are, certainly not all of who we are.
To me the ad is saying, “You might not be able to tell your parents, but we know and we love you and you can come to see us anytime you like and we won’t judge you”. Or as McDonalds has been saying for years “We love you more than your parents do”, they are just aiming a little higher than the happy meal age bracket on this one.
In my opinion, this is McDonalds saying there is still something a little wrong with being gay, but you can come here and be yourself, just as long as you keep it to your self.
There are two ways this ad could have gone to make it better, more inclusive and more proactive.
- Not have the kid hang up, but finishing the call as his Dad comes to the table. His dad noticing the class picture and asks the boy “Is that Steve? Tell him I say hello”.
- A completely different ad with a bunch of kids where a couple just happen to be gay, holding hands while they eat or the like, along with the straight kids doing the same, side by side, no fuss and no attention brought to the subject. Kind of like I have been saying for years, if we want to get into the minds of the world that being gay is normal, we have to show it as normal. It doesn’t have to be an attention seeking story line. Hell doesn’t even have to be a story line. Neighbours and Home and Away can have a couple of gays in the background of their respective diner sets, or walking along the beach or something like that. That’s how we show it’s normal.
With the current version of the ad I’m reminded of when I was a kid, growing up in a household where I didn’t know what being gay was, but knowing I wasn’t like my brothers. This type of ad, as presented below, is fodder for comments from dads and brothers along the lines of “I’m glad you’re not like that”, or “if he were my kid he’d be on the street” or the like. Not that I heard much of that thankfully. There was the occasional “poofter”, “fairy” and the like.
But if the ad were shown as suggested in point 1 above I think it would stop comments coming from all quarters (except the conservatives, as we said they hate everything). Showing a dad that just accepts his son, rather than one to whom the idea of coming out is bad, other kids and dads will see it and understand that it’s just part of life.
I know I ramble and don’t always make sense, but I’m in the US at the moment and probably still a little jet lagged. But basically I say thanks Maccas for doing the ad, but next time put a little more thought into it. Let kids really know there is nothing wrong with them by not bringing attention to one small aspect of their lives.
I’m not saying McDonalds did a bad thing, but as a counsellor who’s spoken to many kids, young adults and grown men who still struggle with their world-facing identities I would like to have seen a stronger, more obvious and more affirmative message.