Hey Bloomingdales ad guy that probably lost his job over this,
Right off, let me say I get it. I get the joke. And it’s mildly funny, but it’s only mildly funny to me, rather than hysterical, because I’m a middle-aged heterosexual male who’s heard this joke many, many times. If I were a twenty year-old heterosexual male today, I’d probably think it was a lot funnier.
If I had a nickel for every time even I have entertained the idea of incapacitating, embarrassing, or (yes, I’ve joked about this) plunging a steak knife into the heart of my best friend because he had a really hot girlfriend I figured would finally see me once he had been disgraced or turned up dead with a steak knife in his heart, I’d have maybe fifteen cents right now. Because the joke you’re making is the joke I’d made myself maybe two or three times back when I was twenty, and when I did, I thought it was pretty damn funny.
And if I had a nickel for every time I’d heard any friend of mine confess out loud to the same fantasy, I’d have maybe fifty cents.
Because I understand your joke, I see that the woman in your ad is looking affectionately at – and has her hand on the shoulder of – her boyfriend, who is out of frame, and that her boyfriend is the best friend of the man in frame to her left. I completely got that the “best friend” whose sobriety and composure are in danger is not the girl, but her unseen boyfriend.
That being said, your employer did the right thing in just apologizing and retracting the ad. It required too much explanation to save, and your audience – which is probably not largely made up of heterosexual males, I’m guessing – was too thoroughly enjoying another feast of unexamined outrage to suffer your mansplaining.
I say you probably lost your job. I kinda hope you did, because clearly neither you nor the daisy chain of ad content approvers at Bloomingdales are writing for the likes of me, the only people likely to get the joke (I never would have seen this ad had it not been for this controversy). You don’t belong in an industry that serves the people your (past) industry does, who saw this ad and didn’t even attempt to get it, but rather went looking for a reason to be offended, found one, and bounced you out of a job you don’t belong in.
In their defense, you should’ve used “he’s” instead of “they’re.” The dissonance would’ve forced them to think.
I confess to you I am sympathetic to the people who complain of today’s absurd political correctness, but I hadn’t been able to figure out why. I’m not politically-aligned with many of those folks, but whenever they go on about political correctness, I kinda agree with them. It wasn’t until I put some thought into what annoyed me about the outrage over this ad that I figured it out:
PC is intellectually lazy.
Think about what you’d have to believe in order to think this ad was a willful endorsement of rape during the holidays:
- That a platoon of highly-paid, hip, media-savvy professionals responsible for Bloomingdale’s public persona chose to print an ad they understood promoted rape
- That a hot-looking heterosexual man and a smoking-hot woman could be “best friends”
I’m not sure which of the above two is less plausible, but it doesn’t matter, because your audience, which I’m starting to think is a pretty conceited bunch, chose to believe both 1) and 2) rather than reflect that maybe there was something to the ad they just weren’t getting and so put some effort into figuring out what that something might be.
Thanks to you, Jobless Fashion Industry Ad Man (you have to be a man), I now understand what it is about PC that annoys me so much. I’d like to make you a friend, but then again, I know that if I ever dated a smoking-hot 20-something woman, you’d spike my eggnog. Or worse.
Okay, I guess we can be friends after all.