Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tripping Your Trouser Trigger

Levi's gay adIt's great that Levi's has a gay ad for their 501s, but this ad has problems. If it's possible you don't know yet, Levi's has a commercial with a straight version and a gay one using the same footage except replacing the female object of flirtation with a guy in the gay one. If you haven't seen the ad yet, see below.

One of the ad's problems is that it doesn't make sense. Who puts their pants on both legs at the same time? Why would he pull them up when he saw it would unleash dungaree destruction? Why didn't he use the phone booth to call his insurance agent?

I've tried to make some sense of it, looking for a deeper layer of substantial meaning. Here is all I could come up with:

gay levi's adLike the narrator of Fight Club realizing he didn't really have his sofa problem handled, the protagonist of this ad becomes distressed inspecting his purchase of 501s, understanding that his carefully ordered, button down and buttoned up world does not satisfy him. The ad takes a dark turn with the pantpulling up pantss becoming his denim Durden, giving him a vision of an extended and violent reality that supports his self destructive behavior. He meets his Helluva Bottom Carter, but the commercial ends before his sex interest can tell him his name is actually Levi.

Other than this problematical story line, the biggest problem I have with this ad is the casting of the guy in the phone booth. The way I see it is that casting for gay roles on television ends up with what some straight guy thinks is the gay ideal. I don't know how they determine what that is, but in this case it looks like the casting process used the box cover of an early 90s gay porn video as their inspiration. Contrast this with print ads from your favorite gay magazines. The people who choose the models for those ads know what they're doing. The guys have the hot looks that sell.

gay dude looking sultryThe Levi's ad team used the same actor for the lead in the straight and gay version, so they cast someone who is just hot in general and for want of a better term, looks "normal". I wish they would have used the same criteria to cast the gay call boy. I want to see guys in gay roles who really look like they would be the center of attention at a gay party and not look like an extra from Boat Trip.

Nevertheless, the gay version is more believable that the straight one. The carefully coiffed star with his boxer briefs and (at first) well designed apartment looks absurd walking with the girl, unless you can imagine they happen to be going together to a male strip club.


Peter Maria said...

HA! I love to snark on commercials, too! I mean, were test audiences eliminated recently, or something? Sooooooo much inanity of late.

Where, exactly, did the gay version air? LOGO? I don't get that channel, so this was a treat for me; never saw it before today.

The dark guy does do it for me, tho. And I totally agree with you about the blonde.

The biggest issue I have with both versions is that new jeans just walks off barefoot with phone booth occupant. That's an urban area; has he never heard of blood-borne pathogens? And what's up with his hair? All gelled and combed to the nearest nanometer one minute, and the next he is sporting bed head. I know that an entire building just disappeared, but if it was enough to muss his hair then it was enough to rip his undershirt off. I'm just saying.