There is not much more insulting than being told how to think. So why, you might ask, have I not blocked emails from MoveOn.org?
Recently, Guido Barilla, chairman of the Barilla group, a leading Italian pasta manufacturer, stated that he would never use a gay couple in his company’s advertisements. He said he desired to present a traditional family. He also said “If gays like our pasta and our advertising, they’ll eat it, if they don’t they’ll buy another brand”. Here is a family owned company, selling a product steeped in tradition, that wants to project a traditional family image.
I’ll start with saying I prefer Anna pasta. I wouldn’t be buying Barilla anyway. But if I would buy pasta based on my feelings for the company’s management rather than its taste I would start buying Barilla. He’s not homophobic, and said so in the interview. He just has an image he wants to project and a product he’s proud of.
Some people buy food based on their feelings for the company, taste comes second. Go figure. I can’t taste opinions.
Guido figured that other people were as enlightened as he is. Silly man. He’s actually in favor of gay marriage, which is illegal in Italy. The knee jerk reactions were predictable. Even in articles that ran his comments in their entirety, commenters ignored his words and created ones of their own.
And then I received an email from MoveOn.org. A “Beth Allen” said, among other things, “Yesterday, Barilla Pasta President Guido Barilla made it clear how he felt about families like mine by saying that he’d never show gay families in advertisements for Barilla. He said that gays “can go eat someone else’s pasta” if they didn’t like his message.” which is only mildly twisting Guido’s words, and then she said asked me to not to actually boycott Barilla pasta, but to sign a petition saying I would boycott Barilla pasta. Yes, there is a difference.
Mr. Barilla is a businessman. He doesn’t care about petitions nearly as much as he cares about sales. If I already didn’t buy his pasta he won’t miss me. If I was a loyal customer and suddenly stopped buying his products, he will notice. If some moron who doesn’t understand marketing starts an anti-Barilla campaign, just as many, if not more, people will start buying Barilla pasta to counteract the protestors. Just ask the folks at Chik-Fil-A who are still trying to restock after the last anti boycott.
A group of nasty people calling themselves Muslims have promoted anti Muslim sentiment around the world. A group of nasty people calling themselves Christians have built a good deal of anti- Christian feelings. A group of nasty people calling themselves gay are starting to tarnish the tolerance of gays in America. Just because I’m not gay doesn’t make me a homophobe. It also doesn’t make me a racist or a member of the Westboro group. Calling me these things does not increase my belief that you’re someone whose views I share.
Sorry folks, but Barilla won’t be having commercials with black families in them. It’s an Italian product trading on a traditional Italian image. That doesn’t make them racist. The NAACP is not calling for a boycott of their products. In those nice cozy Italian kitchen scenes, there won’t be anyone in a wheelchair. That does not suggest a prejudice against the handicapped. The lack of a scene of pasta at passover doesn’t make them anti-Semitic. There also won’t be any single parent families, because it is a traditional family image they’re projecting.
You may be black, or handicapped, or Jewish, or single, or gay, and still seek the warmth embodied in the scenes in these commercials, and know that just because your family wasn’t cast in the commercial, the manufacturer is not saying that your family isn’t a “real” family. They’re suggesting that eating their pasta will make you more like these people, just like every other advertiser is trying to make you think that by using their product, you’ll be like that people in their commercials. Not straight or Italian, but happy and together.
The majority of gay people I know want to be seen as normal, they don’t want to stand out. They have quiet, peaceful lives, and most people don’t even know what their sexual preferences are. They don’t go on and on about how wonderful it is to be gay, anymore than I go on and on about how wonderful it is to be straight.
We need to get back to the idea of tolerance, live and let live. Extremist groups are working against that idea.