02 Apr Chicago’s Afraid of Good Lube
And the beautiful men who work so hard to churn it out.
I got a text a couple days ago while I was still having all sorts of naked fun in Palm Springs, from the guy who runs Boy Butter, asking if I’d seen that their commercial (commercials which have previously aired nationwide during gay stuff like RuPaul’s Drag Race) had been pulled from the Chicago metro market by cable distributor Comcast. I hadn’t. I don’t pay a ton of attention to gay stuff, and Drag Race really isn’t my thing, though I’d seen most of the other Boy Butter commercials, because I really like their product.
But this seemed like a weird step from a city that hosts the International Mr. Leather convention each year, for thousands of homos at a dozen+ venues citywide, and the big gay Market Days every August. Chicago is even home to one of my most favorite sorta gay places in the world: Steamworks Baths (it’s like a Chuck-E-Cheeze’s for guys who like dicks instead of pizza and video games. I’m having my next birthday party there). “This must be something pretty fucking salacious to be deemed more than Chicagoans could handle,” I mused.
So I watched it. You should watch it to:
And like… that’s it? That got blocked from broadcast? I love Seth Fornea (I wrote a whole love letter to him back in my Manhunt days, and I admire the hell outta his everything-butt approach to porn. He’s like a male Dita Von Teese), and this concept is cute and makes me want to go to their website and buy things. But. I’ve watched this a FEW times now and I’m not seeing what the Comcast censors are seeing.
Be confounded with me for a few quick seconds:
+ That’s just how it looks when you churn butter. I realize that this probably isn’t how Boy Butter is actually produced, but that’s how butter was made (once upon a time) and it just looks that way when you use a churn.
+ He’s not even stroking or licking the plunger in some “omg it’s supposed to be a penis!“ pantomime.
+ I was going to say you don’t even see his nips, but you actually do for a few quick seconds. Maybe the nips were the problem.
+ This song has no lyrics, so it’s not that the music was too suggestive.
+ 85% of the shots are just head and shoulders. We’re not watching this from dick-sucking POV, and maybe there’s some accidental sideball or ballback.
+ There isn’t even another character on screen interacting or reacting to what’s happening. It’s just Seth, sitting, and using a literal butter churn with music over it.
When I talk about disguising or hiding male sexuality (and by extension, the tools of male sexuality: the genitals), this is the thing that I’m talking about. There have been a few articles and posts, including this one from OutBuzz, that decry this incident as homophobia, but I think it’s actually bigger than that.
There’s nothing about this that is specifically gay; that’s a solo man, using a gender-free tool, to the rhythm of a song that doesn’t have any gay ties or connections. If Mr. Fornea had been doing this same routine while six oiled-up, jock-strapped twinks simulated penetrative sex behind him to the strains of Born This Way, with rainbow flags waving proudly in the distance, we might have a case that this is about gay stuff. But this presentation is arguably reasonably sterile that way.
Is the product itself designed and aimed for gay dudes to use? Yeah. But is it exclusive to that group in some way? It sure isn’t. It turns out literally anyone can buy and use Boy Butter (it’s even on Amazon!) with whatever parts they happen to have handy! And (according to an informal survey I did of three women I just texted) women find Seth Fornea to be hot enough to get their attention during a commercial, AND they tend to purchase sexual lubricants that are good.
So what’s really at play here? For my money, what you’re witnessing is a fear of the idea that men should embrace their bodies and their sexuality (whether they’re MSM or otherwise) proudly. This message comes through in the form of eternal Helen Lovejoy-esq calls that we must “think of the children!” when it comes to any depiction of male sexuality in nearly every form of media. And it isn’t relegated to just gay men. It’s bestowed upon any male who doesn’t view their own genitals as a threat. Can you imagine the banning that would have taken place had they deigned to show Seth’s bulge? Or literally any of the parts on which this product is intended to be used?
I wish I thought it was as simple as “this is gay so it’s not suitable for broadcast.” But my fear is that this falls into the same pile as lots of other (normal, healthy, realistic) depictions of male sexuality: not suitable for a society that’s been conditioned to view the penis as a weapon; women are taught to be afraid of it, men are taught to be afraid of every one but their own.
So what can we do? To get this commercial aired? Probably not a whole lot. Without some substantial outcry, and/or expensive legal support, things like this tend to fall by the wayside and are ultimately forgotten.
But if you’re not deterred, you can reach Amanda Vallejo, the Comcast Chicago director of Public Relations at firstname.lastname@example.org and the Chicago Director of External Affairs, Joe Higgins, at email@example.com, with your questions or complaints about this issue. Remember that reasonable, well thought out messages seeking a specific reply or action tend to get more attention than ones along the lines of “OMG WHY DO YOU HATE GAY PEOPLE SO MUCH I’M GONNA COME TO YOUR HOUSE TONIGHT AND YOU’LL WISH YOU HAD SOME BOY BUTTER THEN!!!”
But you know what you can do that’s more important than that? Support Boy Butter by buying their products. As much as this could be perceived as a diss towards homosexuals and the gay community, it really only hurts small business like Boy Butter, who work hard to make a really good product and are then stopped from promoting it to the people who would love it the most. If you’ve never tried it and are unsure what to start with, here are my favorites:
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out the Boy Butter website, give them a shout out on Twitter or Facebook, and if you like what they do, tell your friends about it. Or better yet, show them the next time you get together for a stroke.
I asked Eyal (the owner/creator of Boy Butter) about his personal take on the whole situation and his response was typically upbeat, “some folks tell me they are sorry this happened to me, but I think of it like turning lemons into lemonade. Heck, I’m opening up a lemonade stand.”
Somebody should put that in the college coursework for an MBA. Every business could benefit from that kinda attitude.
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