Earlier this week, GLTNewsNow published a story entitled CBS Outdoor Advertising Censors Mankind Video, in which "what seems to be clearly censorship and a possible anti-glbt move" CBS was alleged to have removed bus stop ads placed by Mankind due to their being "too sexually explicit".
We at SDGLN.com wondered if, once again, the gay community was being subjected to a bit of a double standard- this time imposed by CBS Outdoor. CBS Outdoor, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is the arm of CBS that deals with outdoor advertising on things like billboards and bus shelters. In the spirit of the holidays it seems that CBS Outdoor wanted to give a little something extra to Mankind Video:
The proverbial shaft... but not in the way initially reported.
Mankind store manager Jesse Greika received a visit from a reporter with Channel 10 News on Monday asking for comment on CBS Outdoor’s decision to remove his ads, which had been displayed on bus shelters throughout Hillcrest. This was news to Greika- who had not received notification from CBS Outdoor that his campaign, already running for seven weeks, had been prematurely terminated.
For those of you who had seen the ads you may agree with our opinion that they were fairly tame. For those of you who hadn’t- there were three versions; each with a dollhouse theme and each displaying the word “playtime”. One included a man in a leather harness, another had a drag queen, and the third included the photo of a transgender individual. There wasn’t any nudity, there weren’t any images of sex toys- and they didn’t include anything overtly provocative. Yet apparently- a complaint had been received regarding the image of the man in the harness- prompting CBS Outdoor to pull not just one, but all three posters associated with the campaign.
CBS Outdoor has yet to offer Mankind any sort of reimbursement for the prematurely terminated campaign.
Greika just wants to know what all the fuss was about, and what, exactly, CBS Outdoor suddenly deemed to be inappropriate. Was it the harness? Was it the word “playtime”? (If so- the art departments for countless childrens' toy companies are screwed.)
Even though none of these things are necessarily inappropriate, the ads were only displayed in Hillcrest- a neighborhood typically known for being home to an audience far less likely than, let’s say, Scripps Ranch, to find such images offensive. And the bigger question- is why did the giant billboards for Manhunt.net, a recent ad campaign promoting STD prevention (also including a man wearing a similar harness), and the one for Melrose Place all receiving passing grades?
Let’s talk about the Melrose Place billboard for a moment.
The headline on the billboard says “Ménage à Tues” (which, of course, is a play on the French phrase “Ménage à trois”, which means "threesome") in which a fully clothed man is depicted with two scantily clad women- one lying to his left and the other with her legs interlocked over his.
After much interoffice chatter on the subject- SDGLN.com's Higher Education and Nonprofit Liaison, Benny Cartwright admits that although he can handle a lot- including this ad, were he appointed to join the moral police and had to choose to censor this or the Mankind ad- he'd be pulling the plug on Melrose.
Why is implied girl-on-girl-on-guy action “OK”, while an image of a gay man wearing leather is not?
Was the decision to pull the ad campaign based on selective discrimination?
Remember Madonna and Britney’s controversial kiss a few years ago? Sure, it ruffled a few feathers, but as the news media reported the story- that kiss was replayed ad nauseum on broadcast television. It was everywhere. Fast forward to Adam Lambert’s 2009 male-male kiss- and you’d be lucky to even find it on YouTube. Not to mention that the news outlets who replayed the kiss-heard-round-the-world (and mind you, there were a scant few)- blurred the scene. The “incident” was also edited out of later re-broadcasts of the show.
In mainstream media- it seems that the idea of two men kissing or being affectionate with one another is a little bit too taboo, inappropriate, or flat out disgusting- while a girl-on-girl lip lock is a sweeps week must-have. Why? Because it boosts ratings.
CBS Outdoor says their decision to pull the ad came after receiving a complaint from the City (a quick call to Todd Gloria’s office dispelled that myth) - but has since revised their story to cite a complaint from the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS). They have also “instructed” Mankind to issue an apology to the MTS on their behalf.
Mankind has been unable to get a reason from MTS as to why the ad campaign was deemed offensive.
We, however, were more successful in having our calls returned (within 20 minutes, nonetheless)- and the MTS adamantly denies any and all charges of discrimination.
In an exclusive interview obtained earlier today with MTS media representative Rob Schupp, Schupp told SDGLN.com the ads were pulled because they did not comply with MTS advertising policies- which restrict adult entertainment businesses from advertising on bus shelters.
Basically- the campaign never should have gone up in the first place.
CBS Outdoor certainly has some explaining to do. It’s not like they didn’t see the images before they were posted. To the contrary- someone within the organization gave the campaign a thumbs-up seal of approval before the ads were put up.
Mankind does not owe anyone an apology. If anything- we feel CBS Outdoor should be apologizing to them- check in hand.