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Friday, December 2, 2011

The Problem With Same-Sex Marriage PSAs

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 3:00 PM

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Oscar Raymundo's Easy Target takes one conventional argument from news media, pop culture, local politics, or queer lifestyle -- and shoots it down.

This week, the hearts of many melted after watching an Australian marriage equality public service announcement produced by GetUp!, an independent advocacy group. The video is shot in first-person and documents a relationship from lust-at-first-sight to marriage proposal in a backyard and all the trials and tribulations in between. The video has decidedly gone viral with almost 3 millions views so far, and it's already been called "the most-watched gay marriage ad of all time."

The video's popularly is due in part to the tenderness of the message and the good looks of the adorable "dream husband." The video also employs a switch-and-surprise strategy reminiscent of Prodigy's infamous "Smack My Bitch Up" music video, where it is revealed at the end that the heroin-shooting, stripper-smacking, self-destructive party junkie is (gasp!) a female. Similarly, GetUp!'s video ends with the revelations that it's two men who are choosing the type of commitment that is indistinguishable from that of straight couples.

Continue reading to see it for yourself.

A public service announcement is most effective if it reaches that tipping point of public relevance, which in the Internet age means YouTube views. However, not every same-sex marriage PSA that is released by even big nonprofit groups like the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reach that level of prominence. Here are a couple of reasons why:

"Rory's Story," the Irish video for marriage equality, tugs a little too hard at the heartstrings. A son of a lesbian couple is put in a scenario straight out of Grey's Anatomy after he is denied visitation rights at the hospital. Although the situation is heartbreaking, and the video has the overwrought music to accompany it, research has shown that depictions of commitment, not refusal of rights, is what really gets the point across when it comes to getting support for same-sex marriage.

For some reason, powerful organizations like the HRC and GLAAD have gotten the idea that bigots will pay more attention to actors and athletes (especially straight ones) over regular people. And in this video produced by the HRC for marriage equality in New York, it's difficult not to pay attention to Sean Avery, but mostly for his interesting choice of eyewear.

Laughter is sometimes more powerful than pity, especially when poking fun at anti-gay groups and their outlandish claims against marriage equality. Funny Or Die had only one agenda when it produced this parody of NOM's gathering storm video around Proposition 8 -- to make us LOL.

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Oscar Raymundo

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