The commercial tries hard to make its point, the website it advertises tries even harder. The argument being made is noble, when you use the term “gay” to describe an adverse situation, or a foolish action or person, it is offensive to the LGBT community. Unless you have succeeded in avoiding contact with my entire generation, you have probably heard the phrase “that’s so gay” used.
When we were younger, we were chastised for using this term for a whole different reason: because the thought of young children knowing the concept of homosexuality scared adults at the time. Well, times have changed, and now it’s because using the term to describe derogatory situations is offensive to homosexuals.
The commercial has been aired a lot lately and although fortunately it does not seem to have reached the prominence of those anti-tobacco and marijuana commercials that worked so well, it’s no less gay.
I’m a socially liberal person; I’m in support of the LBGT political agenda, especially when it comes to gay marriage and DADT.
I believe that no government which provides benefits to heterosexual marriages – and legally recognizes them as such – has the right to deny those same benefits, and the corresponding legal recognition, to homosexual couples. It shouldn’t be a partisan matter, it’s simply one of empathetic rationality.
However, I refuse to ever stop using the word “gay” the way I have always used it, and I find it rather arrogant of the GLSEN organization to demand otherwise.
If you have been lucky enough to avoid this commercial, allow me to give a brief synopsis: Two evil obnoxious straight girls, Emma and Julia, are at work; Julia asks Emma if she is doing anything tonight, and Emma says she can’t because her parents told her she has to come home after work, to which Julia replies, “that’s so gay.” Luckily one of the wise customers is conveniently ready to teach these young ladies the error of their politically incorrect vernacular; she approaches and says, “That’s so Emma and Julia.” When Julia understandably inquires as to what the hell she’s getting at, she explains – in a display of superb comedic wit, I might add – that their names have become – somehow, unbeknownst to Emma and Julia – adjectives for dumb and stupid.
LOLZ!!!! GET IT?!?!
Well you shouldn’t. I didn’t. Probably had to do with the lack of sense that was made in this scripted social encounter. The producers must have been aware of the commercial’s analogous nonsense because they had to get a narrator to clarify it at the end by stating: “Imagine if who you are was used as an insult. When you say, “That’s so gay” do you realize what you say? Knock it off.”
First of all, I do not appreciate it when those below my level of intellect tell me what to do (which is why I hated high school so much), so the last bit of the commercial that orders me to “knock it off” is annoying at best. But had they at least come up with a better argument, perhaps one that made sense, it would have been more tolerable.
Their argument is so gay because it does’t make sense analogously. Emma and Julia are names, “gay” is a word. While words are versatile, and change meaning all the time, names are not; in fact, names do not even have real meaning in the same sense that words have meaning. Names do not describe – they identify.
Furthermore, while words have the ability to be used in many different lexical forms, names can only identify words from one lexical category (nouns). Therefore the commercial fails to convey its point because of the moronic nature of its analogy.
I realize that analyzing the syntax of the commercial’s language may seem like a desperate attempt to justify my usage of the word, but it is important that it be analyzed. When a person sets out to make an argument for or against something, a good indication of whether or not their argument has merit is how well they can convey the point that they are trying to make by using logic, as arguments rely on logic to be effective.
Obviously if your argument has no merit, it will be impossible to justify logically.
However, that won’t likely stop the person from trying anyway, and when they do they often attempt to formulate an analogy, in this instance, comparing the way in which one uses the word “gay” to describe a stupid or dumb situation with using the names of the girls to describe a stupid or dumb situation (which does not work because names cannot describe).
Analogies are, however, tools with which one strengthens an argument. An analogy that attempts to strengthen a logicless argument will always fail, just as this one did.
As was stated earlier, words have the ability to both change meaning and hold multiple meanings. This is why I will continue to use the word “gay” the way I always have and maintain a clean conscience. I doubt the “n-word” would be used so prolifically by the black community today if it still held the same meaning to them as it did to white slave owners in the 1700’s; the point being that even the most hurtful words have the ability to change meaning over time.
But what makes GLSEN’s demand even more preposterous is the fact that the word “gay” itself is a perfect example of the metamorphic tendencies of words’ meanings. I don’t even need to use any analogous or metaphoric examples to make my point.
But I will anyway.
For example, the statement “let’s go be gay together!” would have had a totally different implied meaning in the 1920’s than today. Even today the dictionary lists descriptions such as “happy,” “lively,” and “colorful” before “homosexual.” It’s not my fault that the gay community has chosen to align itself with these adjectives as well. Someone who is happy, lively, and colorful in character is not necessarily attracted to the same sex – but they are gay, at least according to the dictionary definition. But if I were to describe a person, place, or thing that is happy, lively, and colorful as gay (and I would) I’m sure GLSEN would have a problem with me.
When I use the term “gay” to describe something I perceive to be stupid or dumb (like this commercial), I’m not implying those things to be homosexual. At that point, the word has taken on a whole new meaning, and if you choose to be offended by the way I’m using it, you should probably stop being so gay. GLSEN’s inability to perceive the alternate slang meaning is a result of their desire to be offended by it.
If my friend buys a new bright pink and purple sweater, I will inevitably describe that sweater, and my friend, as gay. Does this mean that I’m accusing him of being attracted to male genitalia? No. Does it mean that I’m accusing his sweater of being attracted to other sweaters? No. It means that I don’t care for the sweater, and I know that his and my understanding of the word “gay” in the context of the situation will clearly convey my feelings towards it. Just because the word has evolved to mean stupid or dumb does not mean that I think homosexual people are inherently stupid or dumb, in the same way that I don’t think stupid or dumb things are inherently homosexual.
To answer the question posed at the end of the commercial: Yes, I do know what I’m saying when I say “that’s so gay”; just because you don’t doesn’t mean I need to stop using it.