Have you seen the new Verizon “Reality Check” campaign? One ad in particular caught my attention. At first I wasn’t quite sure what felt so different about the ad. After a few views of it on my hulu watching binge I realized what it is: the ad features two queer coded people.
Disclaimer – I realize below that I am making some assumptions. It is how I am reading things. And at the same time, this is something new in advertising – seeing queer people as just part of the group, as opposed to a very clear focus with a specific purpose to target the community.
It’s sort of brilliant in its subtlety. Much like the Cheerios inter-racial couple with mixed kid ad was brilliant. No big deal is made about it, because why should it be? The reality (check) is that our culture is filled with mixed people and queer people. If you don’t like that, then perhaps you should find yourself an island where you can go be angry and alone with other hateful people.
There are at least two cuts of this particular ad – I’ve only seen the two anyway. In the one copied here the first queer coded person feels almost like a secret message put out there for those in the know. Like, you only see him/her/hir because you are in the community or closely tied to it. I don’t assign a pronoun because I can’t. The person is not performing in any sort of binary way. Neither clearly male nor female. But also, not clearly female masculine or male feminine or male masculine or female feminine or any other lovely mix. There is an effeminacy to the person, which could perhaps cause one to infer that they are looking at and hearing an effeminate man, but that is too binary a way of thinking, and too easy, and without taking into account the vast ways in which we as humans can show ourselves and be seen and how we simply are.
The second person shows up immediately after. This person reads more masculine/male with a slight effeminacy to him. So let’s assume he’s gay. Perhaps a little stereotypical with his hand gestures and voice, but still, he’s there. He’s right there.
These two people are in this ad as just part of the group. It is not an ad targeting queer couples or individuals. It is an ad targeting anyone with a cell phone. So, as much as I hate to congratulate a corporation – congratulations Verizon. You’re normalizing queerness.