Slightly Off-Target

Target have been forced to defend their choice of brand ambassador after a series of complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau about the decision to use a gay man in the various commercials, and his use of the word “bangers” to describe breasts. In response to the complaints, Target defended Gok Wan; star of the UK series How To Look Good Naked; with the following statement:
“A small number of the complaints appear offended that Target should be using a gay man in advertising. We respectfully disagree with the complainants.”
To put it into context, here is one of the complaints:
“A female body is a beautiful thing, not to be cheapened by a poofter calling breasts ‘BANGERS’!!! I WAS BREAST FED, NOT BANGER FED! It’s an insult to sooooo many Aussie men and woman to see poofs on TV but you let it happen.”
Target went on to say that “…a person’s sexuality is irrelevant to their worth as a person. Target makes no apology for using a gay man in its advertising…”
I’m not one to editorialise, but I think Target took a pretty weak position on this. They respectfully disagree with the complaints about bigots being forced to see a real live homosexual man on TV. They make no apology, nor should they, for using a gay man in advertising. Did they come out in support of Gok after such an attack? No. I’m not asking them to affect a change in policy, sponsor a Mardi Gras float or champion gay marriage, but they could have said a lot more for equality and intolerance. As far as I can see, the overall effect of their statement is something like, “Hey shut-up, we did nothing wrong so… so… so… shut-up.”
It’s 2013 for fuck’s sake. The complainants took issue with Gok’s sexuality and the fact that a gay man was allowed on TV. He wasn’t lubing himself up to take a thrashing from some nubile teen boy like half the Catholic clergy. He walks around in a suit and talks about fashion. It’s fucking ridiculous. The only thing offending about any of the ads is the use of the bogan-oriented epithet “tɑr’ʒeɪ”.
Nonetheless, Target really needed to say more than they did. The complaints were homophobic and the response seemingly did not address the heart of the issue. In today’s world, fence-sitting of that calibre leads to the persecution being seen in Russia at present. McDonalds, Coca-Cola, GE, amongst others continue to sponsor the Winter Olympics in Russia and manage to turn a blind eye to the government backed hate-mongering that is spreading throughout the former Soviet nation. Is this the sort of environment we want to foster in our own backyard? No? Then someone needs to tell Target to lift their game socially or risk being further marginalised by their customer base and the collective social conscience.

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