Thursday, January 29, 2009

Think B4 You Speak: A reaction.

The "Think B4 You Speak" campaign focuses on ending the use of the words gay, faggot, dyke, etc in a hateful way. According to their campaign mission, the organization states that "This campaign aims to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of anti-LGBT bias and behavior in America’s schools." It is not uncommon for phrases such as "That's so gay" and "faggot" to be commonly used in American schools. I myself have witnessed it on a daily basis, working at a middle school.

In order to tackle this problem the "Think B4 You Speak" campaign has released three advertisements using what they have described as "star power" in order to get the message across. Artistically speaking, the three commercials use humor and sarcasm in order to get the message that "That's so gay" is not transferrable with "That's so stupid." The mood of the commercials is to actually make fun of those individuals who commonly use phrases like "That's so gay" by turning it around and using a phrase that indicts something specific about an individual--like an ugly dress, a persons name or a cheesy mustache. This is to equate the use of the word "gay" as stupid for something personal to an individual. It just does not feel good for anyone when you are being made fun of. The tables are turned in these commercials.

The effectiveness of the campaign varies. It can be argued that the commercials do achieve its goal--the fact of the matter is, the organization wants you to "Think B4 You Speak." They make this clear. However, the truth of the advertisement attempts to solve a surface level problem. "That's so Gay" is not only a hateful phrase but it also has deeply rooted homophobic connotations. The larger problem is not the language, but rather the branded social norms of heterosexism and the fear of the homosexual. This is the problem. The language, I would argue, is simply a means to enact true feelings/the larger social problem at hand. It is a tool, not the source.

Ultimately, the ethical standard of this piece helps in the progression of social acceptance--albeit in a limited way. The rhetoric of the campaign does help the situation by indicating just how ridiculous it is. Addressing the rhetoric is an important first step. The organization uses the "power" of the celebrity as an iconic symbol and role-model to indicate the hateful phrases as fallible and hurtful.

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