I’ve been reading a bit of the reaction to this pulled ad, and have some thoughts. As a quick summary, the ad features jokes about people of color, Jewish people, gay people, and people of size, and is meant to highlight that for those who consider the first three jokes unacceptable, the fourth should also be considered unacceptable.
If this is an ad that is trying to make the point that jokes about people of color, Jewish people, or gay people are not cool and we need to also place fat jokes in the not cool category, it fails. There’s one overarching rule about the Oppression Olympics: nobody wins (except the haters, as they laugh their butts of at the infighting of civil rights activists).
However, there is a way this ad could work: if it were appealing to people who already believed that jokes about people of color, Jewish people, and gay people were wrong, but may not believe jokes about fat people are wrong. On its face one might think this is a small group, but trust me, there’s plenty of fat hate in liberal-minded communities. This ad would contrast what liberal-minded people already considered repugnant with something they perhaps did not, and make them think about why it’s okay to hate on fat people, if they’re so liberal-minded and all.
If the ad were portrayed as described in the last paragraph, it could work and be really meaningful. In that context — the one where the audience is filled with people who already don’t think it’s okay to hate on people based on their skin color, heritage, and sexual orientation — throwing size in the mix is interesting and could be the catalyst for those particular people to start questioning their own possible sizism.
Considering that the ad isn’t going to mean much to anyone except a liberal-minded audience at any rate, the argument that since the public *isn’t* completely liberal-minded is the reason the ad should be pulled, seems to taste a bit flat. There are indeed times when talking about discrimination as a general abstraction with many examples (including discrimination based on color, heritage, and sexual orientation) can help movements who don’t yet have a popular foothold even amongst the liberal-minded.
What do you think? Should the ad have been pulled because it “participates in the Oppression Olympics”? Are there times when talking about discrimination as a general abstraction doesn’t marginalize discriminated groups, but rather empowers them as being part of a more general phenomenon, an ugly part of human nature against which all sorts of marginalized groups should band together and fight? Should talking about sizism in the same breath as racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism be avoided, regardless?