The REAL Queerbaiting

Something that every queer person, and most other people who are on twitter, has heard about is the concept of ‘queerbaiting’. There’s a lot of debate about the term and what it means, but for the most part, it ends up meaning media (film, tv, books, ect) that tries to entice the queer viewers by hinting at a queer relationship but never carrying through.

For the most part, I as an avid lover of film and TV ignore this entire concept. Most of the things I see labeled ‘queerbaiting’ are just fan interpretation and the cast embracing fans having fun. Often things that are labeled as being ‘queerbaiting’ are either things where we just perceive something platonic as romantic or something that IS romantic is perceived to be slighted up against the heterosexual romantic couples. (I’m not saying this never happens, but I am saying it happens far less than people claim it does.)

I generally feel that you can’t decide something is queerbaiting when it’s viewers/readers who are making that decision based on their own expectations, not the intentions of the creators (there are exceptions, but very few). However, there is a form of queerbaiting that I think most people don’t identify as such that is the real problem, and that is when people identify something as positive queer representation when it isn’t.

Whether it’s people who work for the marketing team of a thing or just people who are writing about a thing for their own publications, there are so many cases in which people really do make queerbaiting an issue when it really wasn’t by the way they advertise or talk about something.

A good example recently would be how everybody started talking about how the new Power Rangers movie had a queer character just because someone asks a girl if she has boy problems and when she doesn’t reply, they change it to ‘girl problems?’ in a scene where that wasn’t even relevant. That entire movie was narrowed down to the discussion of the queer girl representation when honestly it wasn’t even a thing. Hell, that movie had far more diversity in race representation than most movies that come out these days, but nobody talked about it because all they cared about was the SLIGHT mention of potential queerness. And then, when the movie came out and there was no queer content, people were angry because they were promised something by the people talking about it before it was released.

The same happened with Beauty and the Beast, with Le Fou dancing with a guy at the end. That film got boycotted because of a slight hint that Le Fou and Happy In A Dress guy might have a thing for one another. (In a movie where a human girl falls in love with a monster dude. Seriously.) The point is, people try their best to go, “OH LOOK! WE HAVE QUEER PEOPLE!” to draw in viewers, or if it’s said by those not related to the marking team, then it’s done by writers who want hits on their website.

This is what to me the vast majority of queerbaiting actually is.

If not that, then it’s some bullshit where they claim something is positive queer representation when it’s really something very, very negative. A good example of this would be one of my favorite TV shows in the history of TV, a GREAT show, with a shitty promotions department. Yes, my friends, we’re talking about Kingdom.

Since it’s not the most well known show (it’s on a DirecTV only channel), I’ll give you the basics that are important for this discussion: The show is about a father and his sons who are MMA fighters and the youngest son we find out is a deeply closeted gay man to the point of driving him to breakdown. In the lead up to season two, Kingdom was promoted by talking about how Nate’s sexuality was going to be explored further and was going to become a bigger part of the story. They talked a LOT about how he was even going to have a sex scene in season 2. The actor, when interviewed, talked about how he filmed a sex scene where, “It’s really my body, it wasn’t a double in the sex scene.” The key words here are that it was marketed all season with those words: sex scene.

It was a rape scene. He was raped. Nate was drugged by a client he was a personal trainer for at a party and a man and woman had sex with him while his client sat in the corner and watched the ‘show’. The problem isn’t that there was a rape scene. It was horrific but tied into the plot really well. I generally DO NOT watch stuff with rape scenes, but this was very relevant to the plot, and the fact that Nate got raped was fine. Th problem is that they marketed it as “Nate’s going to have sex with a guy”, like it was a pro-queer moment in the season that was coming. It was made out to be something positive in the way of queer representation, when it was a rape scene. Nate didn’t have sex with a man, Nate was raped.

That is also REAL queerbaiting.

Marketing something as a queer sex scene and it ending up being someone being drugged and raped is absolutely queerbaiting. Marketing something as queer representation when it’s a slight moment of ambiguity is queerbaiting. Making a single line consisting of two words in the dialogue into something to be touted as queer representation is queerbaiting.

All of these things are for bigger deals than ‘these two characters flirted that one time so if they don’t end up together it’s queerbaiting’ or ‘the straight people kissed 4 times but the queer couple only kissed 2, this is queerbaiting!’ and all of these are a serious problem we really need to end when it comes to promoting movies and TV. Stop claiming there is queer representation where it isn’t. If you want to attract queer audiences then put actual queer content in your product, don’t claim it’s there when it isn’t.

 

Logo Design Project

In NMAC 3145, over the break we were tasked with coming up with a logo for ourselves and our ‘Brand’ using the website Canva, which is a free to use design platform that I highly recommend. I confess, I struggled with this one because I really DO want a brand logo and I’ve never managed to come up with something that really fit, because I’m crazy picky and not a graphic designer.

My very first ‘brand name logo’ I tried to make for myself when I made my first short documentary was shot down by the professor for being too ‘silly’.

gay-pirates-logo

I wanted to make my production brand Gay Pirate Productions, and this was my very super basic logo. Why, you may ask, did I want to brand myself Gay Pirate Productions?

There are 3 reasons:

  • I love pirates
  • I love queer people (though I’m bisexual, not gay)
  • It fits the trend of your “Bad Robot” and your “Mutant Enemy”, which are very recognizable production brands (JJ Abrams and Joss Whedon, respectively), two-word, memorable, simple brand name theme . Also, Gay Pirate wasn’t already someone’s production brand which I find INSANE since it’s such a fun name.

Personally, I’m still pretty attached to that branding and tbh the Logo isn’t bad either for 20 minutes, google images, and photoshop.

However, that was for my film-making and, as I said, my professor at the time shot me down for being silly (not shocking, he was a boring guy who had no sense of fun). For this assignment in NMAC 3145, I need to make a brand for myself as a whole, because I am involved in more creative endeavors than just film-making, most notably my writing, and even beyond creative endeavors of that nature, I’m slowly but surely becoming more heard-of in the film and TV review communities online (obviously I’m still a nobody, but there are peers with far more well-known and established reputations who I talk with and who mention me and get my name out, so it’s slow but sure).

Basically, I need a brand and logo that makes me recognizable in multiple potential fields, not just my creative endeavors, but potentially professionally as well.

It took me forever to decide what I wanted the wording to be, because in the past I’ve gone with just ‘A JCW Production’ and used my initials, but I don’t really feel attached to that because JCW is a pretty common set of initials, I’ve found (I have a friend named John Casey Wells, for example). It took me a long time to decide on the one I did in just using J. Chelsea.

Since I was in middle school, I have been signing things J. Chelsea Williford. My signature on anything is not Janna Williford, but J. Chelsea Williford because I’ve never gone by Janna. I get sick of people calling me Janna, too. It’s normal, because when they read my name on anything official it says Williford, Janna C. It’s only natural for people to assume my name is Janna. However, once I’m done with school, I want to try and move away from that. I want people to recognize my name.

Yes, my twitter is @JannaWilliford but that’s because there is a girl in Texas named Chelsea Williford and I know this because every time she signs up for something, FOR SOME REASON, the emails come to my chelseawilliford@yahoo.com account. I was lucky enough to get an email address with just my name, only for a teenager in Texas to sign up for online accounts with my email address. (I also get emails from her school choir instructor on my chelseawilliford@gmail.com account. It’s hilarious.)

So I picked J. Chelsea, because it’s recognizable and it’s a name I would use on everything. Anything with my full name says J. Chelsea Williford. I had never seen someone who used their first name as an initial, but as an adult I’ve come across some authors, and some filmmakers, but it’s still pretty unique to me in everyday life.

My very first attempt is still my absolutely favorite of the bunch:

j-chelsea-1

It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The colors of the sky works so well with the background, that font is perfect because I write my J’s that way, so that instead of a line all the way across the top, I just go far enough before doing the downward hook, and it says everything I want it to. The color purple, beyond being my favorite color and beyond being both the pride color and the ‘blend’ color for the bisexual flag, is one that is used to symbolize wit and creativity, and when I’m writing or film-making, the creativity of those endeavors is symbolized by the color purple. Also, the person looking up at the galaxy symbolizes moving forward into the unknown, making unknown advancements, reaching out beyond the limits of the imagination, and simply taking a leap and breaking the mold to try and do something brand new. Also, it has to be noted, I’m a space nerd so SPACE!

However, as beautiful as that is, as much as I wanted to just go “There, done!”, there’s something really important…. it isn’t really a logo. It’s more of a banner. It’s beautiful, but that is not an effective logo.

The goals of an effective logo aren’t just originality and memorability, which this has in spades, but to be recognizable in multiple formats. I checked this in small format, and it works as a tiny logo, so I was hopeful. However, when you check it in black and white it’s utterly useless. The stars wash out into the name, which blends into a bloom of white with black speckles and lines around the outsides. It’s utterly useless in black and white. Also, as loathe as I am to admit it, it’s just too busy. It’s beautiful, but it isn’t a good logo.

So, I decided to nix my beautiful, wonderful, magical night sky motif and just go for a different color to go within that pattern:

j-chelsea-5

Better, right? It’s still got the cool, edgy look to it and, though the space symbolism is totally lost, the texture and colors still lends towards the idea of a creative brand and it’s just as versatile.

In the small-scale test it worked better than the first, but in the black and white it once again failed. Even without the space-scape messing it up, the lines of that pattern still just don’t work in black and white. I wanted it to so badly because it’s such a beautiful logo, but it’s just NOT a logo. It’s more of a banner, like I said. It would be great for an advertisement for J. Chelsea but it just isn’t a logo.

At this point, I was really stumped. I was back to square one, almost, and I was feeling pretty downtrodden. I didn’t really have any other ideas, and even with all of Canva’s versatility, it just wasn’t giving me options I wanted.

Then, it came to me.

When I was in high school, I have no idea why or how it started, but I would always draw this symbol on the margins of papers. It was a jagged heart with a line through it. It wasn’t like a broken heart or a heart with an arrow, it was just a scratchy heart (because I’m a terrible artist) with a line through it. I wrote it on EVERYTHING. I have no idea why, other than the fact I’m a doodler even though I can’t draw, but I did.

So, while Canva didn’t have the options to recreate that heart exactly, I designed something more modern but still similar. This is the result:

j-chelsea-6

It feels so incredibly basic, and I can’t love it the way I do the original, but to be perfectly honest, that’s a pretty good logo. I stuck with the font I liked and the color I liked for the heart, and I almost made the strike through a different color than black, but honestly, this works better as a logo.

The goal of a logo is to be simple, recognizable, memorable, and be all those things in small form, large form, or black and white. This logo does those things. It’s also still very versatile. Yes, I lose a lot of the symbolism I wanted, but it works. The color I was able to keep, and the cleanliness of the design is superior to that of logos, honestly. I would love to tweak it in a program with more options than Canva, I would like the heart to be shaped differently, I would like the strike through to be longer in either direction, but overall I’m happy with this logo.

My audience for the J. Chelsea brand is supposed to be very broad because J. Chelsea could be on a documentary film, a fiction film, in a book, on a critical review, a watermark on a photo, on some social commentary on global economics, the list just goes on and on. So I can’t aim at just one audience. I need something that’s recognizable and memorable for ALL the potential audiences I could have.

I think with some work, I could make this into a logo that I could love, and maybe one day I’ll have the program and the artistic ability to do just that. Logos change over time, so for now, as a starting point, this logo works just fine for me.

 

 

Photo Advertising Assignment

This week for NMAC 3145 we had an assignment in which we had to do an ad campaign for some product we use doing 6 photographs.

I decided to do my project on my favorite k-pods: Green Mountain Sumatran Roast.

The idea is to pretend that you’re an advertisement firm hired to promote the product, so I have to think about the goal in this photo advertisement. I’m selling coffee that’s single-serve, fast-brewing, convenient coffee that still tastes good. My target audience for this is the person that’s always on the go and doesn’t need a whole pot of coffee. A good idea would be young business people or students, someone that’s likely unmarried (no need for a whole pot of coffee for just yourself) and likely needs to get their coffee in the morning as they’re on their way out the door to class or work. Ads like this would be best in magazines, online ads, and in public spaces like bus stops and on subway platforms, because the person likely to be the type that commutes and those are the types of items a commuter likely runs into.

My theme for my photo shoot is ‘getting ready for work’. It’s early, still dark out, and the person using the product is making coffee in between showering, getting dressed, running around getting everything ready for the day, ect. The idea I’m trying to sell is that with the convenience of Green Mountain Sumatran Roast in a k-pod for the Keurig, she can make her coffee and have time to drink it while she’s getting ready because it’s that fast and convenient.

Because I’m one person living in a house with 6 other people, the only time I could make use of the kitchen as a photography studio without people in and out was the middle of the night, which is also why I’m the photographer and subject in my project, because everyone else is asleep in the middle of the night.

ad-1ad-2ad-3ad-4ad-5ad-6

Digital Media Marketing Analysis Assignment

This week in my NMAC 3145 class, we’ve been talking about effective advertising. We were tasked with choosing an ad campaign and analyzing why it is effective, what the audience it’s aiming for is, and what platforms they use for the campaign.

I decided to take a look at a reasonbly long-running campaign, the Dawn Saves Lives campaign. For the past decade, Dawn dish soap has sporadically highlighted that Dawn dish soap saves wildlife in the event of oil spills. Dawn dish soap is pretty much what we think about when we see people washing off oil-slicked ducks and seabirds, because Dawn is the only cleaning product that has long advertised their product as a savior of wildlife.

It’s harder to nail down what platforms are used by this ad campaign, because it has spanned from 2006 (only one year into the life of Youtube) until today with a highlight around the time of the BP oil spill. That year, there was an up-swing in the airing of the advertisements.

The commercial I’m sure we’re all familiar with is this one:

This commercial is effective because most everyone likes animals. Even if you don’t particularly care about the environment, most people see a little fuzzy baby duckling and goes ‘awwww’. A cute baby animal that is covered in oil being gently scrubbed with soft-looking bubbles is a great visual image to persuade people to pay attention to the ad and associate good things with this product because it’s not just a good thing, saving a baby animal, but it’s depicted in such a ‘warm and fuzzy’ manner. It seems more like the baby duck is getting a warm, bubbly bath to rid it of the icky, nasty oil than actually depicting the harm and suffering the duck was faced with before being cleaned off. It plays into the part of most people who naturally care about animals, babies, gentleness, and kindness to a soft baby duckling.

After that, it goes on to tell you that the company is going to donate a VERY LARGE sum of money to helping the wildlife and the environment (or so it’s implied) and it makes it so that, even if you weren’t already inspired to buy their product, you really want to buy it now that they are telling you YOUR money is going to help the baby animals.  It reinforces that idea by showing them releasing the rescued animals back into the wild.

Even now, I just caught myself thinking, ‘Wow, I should go buy some Dawn’ when I know it’s marketing manipulation.

Beyond that commercial, however, there is also the label on the bottle:

dawn2bhelps2bsave2bwildlife

The baby duck on the bottle is the same size as the logo, and the message “Dawn Helps Save Wildlife” is almost as big as the words on the logo. It is selling the idea of saving a baby duck more than it is washing your dishes, because what appeals more to people, doing dishes well or saving a baby duck?

Beyond the ad and the logo, you have coupon-looking ads online on websites in the sidebar and in pop-ups that look like this:

1penguin_6003seal_6002duck_600

The ad looks like a coupon and says “Save” but instead of having an actual coupon, it’s telling you that if you buy Dawn, you’re saving the baby animal. And once again, it’s fluffy baby animals because saving the sea urchins isn’t as appealing as saving a baby penguin, or a baby seal, or a baby duckling. These ads are the types that pop up on a blog article and you have to click the X to close them and continue reading, and while those ads mostly go ignored, some of us can’t help but pause and go ‘awww’ at the baby animal, and that’s when we see the “Dawn Saves Animals” advertisement.

Dawn’s social media accounts are all about the baby ducks!

Facebook (forgive the Pirate language, I just took a screenshot with my FB account logged in):

screenhunter_592-nov-10-17-10

Twitter:

Youtube:

screenhunter_593-nov-10-17-18

The Produce Website:

screenhunter_594-nov-10-17-19

It’s really hard to run a more useful campaign than one where you demonstrate a product saving very cute baby animals from death. It’s a harsh reality but a real one that many people don’t care nearly as much about other humans as they do about baby animals. Baby animals is one of the most universal ways to reach people’s emotional centers. It’s hard to face it, but even if they were cleaning the hospital rooms of orphan children with diseases with their product, it wouldn’t reach the same emotional appeal as fluffy, fuzzy, adorable baby animals.

And by showing their product cleaning the animals off, showing that their company gives back some of its profits to charities for the animals, and by showing actual animals that have been saved being released back into the wild, it proves to be what I would argue is one of the most effective advertising campaigns probably to ever exist.