Barilla CEO Guido Barilla
By now, you may have heard something about the proposed boycott of Barilla pasta, by members of the LGBT community for his supposed "homophobia".
Barilla pasta empire CEO, Guido Barilla, released a video today (9/27) apologizing again to the gay community for saying the other day, among other things, that he would never put a gay family in an ad for his pasta because the Barilla company likes “traditional families.”
First of all, the word "homophobia" is a misnomer. A phobia is an irrational fear. The word homophobia was coined by activists who wanted to intimidate and silence those who disagreed with them, politically or otherwise, but "fear" had nothing to do with it, and it certainly wasn't "irrational".
Let's look at a translation of the statement that got poor Guido into trouble in the first place:
"We will not be advertising with homosexuals, because we like the traditional family. If gays do not agree, they can always eat pasta from another manufacturer. All are free to do whatever they want provided it does not annoy others. "-source: Google Translate
Note the language: "We will not be advertising with homosexuals". Now, notice how he is misquoted in the following graphic
"I would never use (emphasis mine) a gay family in our commercial". Note both the use of direct quotes and the word "never". I'm no expert in Italian, but comparing the Google translation and one other translation I've seen, the word "never" seems more like editorializing than a direct quote. Other than satire, if one characterized his statement as, "I'll use gays in the company advertising when they pry the company from my cold, dead fingers", it would be dishonest to attribute that to him as a direct quote.
So, CEO Barilla wandered into a PC minefield here, during a radio interview. Signore Barilla is not opposed to gay marriage, but draws a line at gay adoption. I'm sure he thought his "live and let live" disclaimer, "All are free to do whatever they want provided it does not annoy others", reflected an open minded approach on his part to "diversity".
When I began to ponder this kerfluffle, I thought of it in terms of those who are perpetually offended. Barilla is not opposed to gay marriage, but does not see it as an ideal. Most likely, his religious and or cultural upbringing provided a basis for his beliefs. So, initially, I was thinking of this in terms of the rights of an individual to hold certain beliefs and to have those beliefs reflected in the businesses they create and run. Does this make Barilla a bigot? Is it fair to characterize his products as "Bigottoni"?
And then, I tried to think of any other advertiser who used gay couples or gay families in their ad campaigns, and I couldn't think of any. None. I Googled "gay advertising", and I saw one or two ads by national companies, but didn't remember them as being part of a national ad campaign. It's very "progressive" to demonstrate your "diversity" in small, limited and tailored markets, don'tcha know? How many millions of companies worldwide, have a de facto or de jure policy exactly the same as Signore Barilla's, but have simply never made the mistake of saying it out loud??
Forgive me for saying so, but I don't think bigotry has anything to do with it. If five or ten years from now*, a demographic study came out that demonstrated that LGBT couples were the largest buyers or potential buyers for their products, that advertising trends would reflect that demographic. Follow the money.
Secondly, might there be a question as to whether gays would really want full equality in advertising. Consider the memes and stereotypes that are dominant in today's advertising culture: In the past few decades, in heterosexual households featured in advertising, Dad has become kind of a doofus. And clueless. Sometimes, a clueless doofus, saved from his cluelessness by a much smarter mate. Father once knew best, but not anymore! Following the same pattern, can you see commercials depicting 50% of gays as clueless doofuses? Congratulations! Gays now have the equality to be depicted on TV as really, really stupid people! I wouldn't want to be the guy to make that pitch!
Aren't there any companies owned by gays or progressives, (or gay progressives) who will lead the way? Doesn't it seem just a bit hypocritical to criticize a man who grew up in a traditional heterosexual family, who believes traditional family values, when there are no progressive companies blazing that trail of marketing their product using gay families?
When I see the first Super Bowl ad, depicting two gay men smootching it up and proclaiming their domestic bliss as they sip their wine cooler (I warned you about stereotypes!) or beer and proclaim, "It doesn't get any better than this", then, let's jump all over poor benighted Guido Barilla for his less than PC take on marriage and the family. In the meantime, how can we hold him to a higher standard than those who advocate the LGBT agenda but refuse to put their own advertising dollars where their mouths are?
*Is it bigoted of me to say it could take five to ten years? Or more?? Or never??? Just my take on the Zeitgeist, but then, I didn't anticipate the iphone or an Obama re-election, either, so take it with a grain of salt.
Original art work by John Cox
Cross posted at LCR