The Love That Dares Not Be Advertised

April 24 1997 3:30 AM

The Love That Dares Not Be Advertised

The Love That Dares Not Be Advertised

79000_79466_mov_icon
79000_79467_audio_icon

Sound02 - shoes.avi or Sound03 - shoes.mov; download time, 2.25 minutes at 56K Sound01 - vr-shoes.asf; for sound only

Shoes, produced by Linda Semans of the Semans Co. for the Human Rights Campaign.

Advertisement

Ellen DeGeneres just came out as a lesbian on the cover of Time, and she's doing it on the April 30 episode of her hit network sitcom, Ellen. Her exit from the Hollywood closet is a milestone: No other star has stepped out of it at the height of his or her career. While there are currently about two dozen gay or lesbian regulars in prime-time shows, according to the gay and lesbian magazine the Advocate, none plays the lead. And no series has commanded such advance attention for a nonfarewell episode since Dallas' revelation of who shot JR.

41000_41916_shoe5

The Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay and lesbian political organization in the nation, plans 1,400 Ellen house parties, complete with party kits, to celebrate the lead character's acknowledgment that she is gay. It has also chosen the April 30 show to air Shoes, a spot that attacks job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Produced by Linda Semans of the Semans Co., which specializes in public-service and progressive-issue campaigns, Shoes was rejected by ABC, Ellen's parent network. Citing a "no controversial-issue advertising" policy, ABC turned down HRC's request that it make a single nationwide purchase of air time. Sixty-five affiliates have agreed to air the spot, however, and it will be placed in 33 markets around the country.

Shoes chooses a single focus--discrimination in the workplace--and casts it in mainstream terms. Never explicitly seeking approval of a lifestyle, it follows a tested civil-rights-protest strategy: Show the injustice, then appeal to the public's sense of fairness.

41000_41917_shoe2

Opening with a female silhouette walking away from a punitive "personnel" sign, it follows her unsteady progress down a flight of stairs and uses a staccato colloquy between her colleagues to dramatize the injustice:

"They fired her? ... That isn't fair."

"No, it isn't."

"It isn't legal."

"Yes, it is."

Our first assumption is that this woman is a victim of gender-based discrimination--but we're stopped short by the announcement that "it" is legal. Job discrimination against women? Surely not. Building on an already secure national consensus on women's rights, the dialogue draws on basic, inarguable values while the visuals emphasize the sheer normalcy of it all: the ubiquitous setting, the ubiquitous employee, the ubiquitous iniquity. Nothing weird here--instead, a shot of a plaque that once acknowledged this employee's "sustained superior performance" and must now be packed away.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.