It is to laugh . . .
The actor known as Mr. T, who played B. J. Baracus in the 1980's TV series "The A-Team", was hired by the advertising agency for Mars Incorporated of England to star in a series of British TV advertisements for Snickers bars.
So far, so good. One of the advertisements, showing a player acting up at a football game, has been fine:
However, the tongue-in-cheek antics of Mr. T in another advertisement have caused ructions across the Atlantic:
According to a newspaper report, the latter advertisement:
. . . prompted strong protests from the U.S. – even though it was never shown on American television.
The U.S. lobby group Human Rights Campaign criticised Mars – which makes Snickers – for condoning ‘the notion that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is a group of second class citizens and that violence against GLBT people is not only acceptable but humorous’.
A spokesman for Mars said: ‘This ad is the second in a series of UK Snickers ads featuring Mr T, which are meant to be fun and have been positively received in the UK.
‘However, we understand that humour is highly subjective, and it is never our intention to cause offence. Accordingly, we have pulled the Mr T speedwalker ad globally.’
The workplace director of Human Rights Campaign Daryl Herrschaft said: 'HRC applauds Mars for taking swift and appropriate action.'
Meanwhile reaction in the UK was mixed amongst the gay community concerning the ban.
Website comments regarding the controversy in the UK suggested that complaints from the US should not impact on what is shown here.
One wrote: 'As a (British) gay man myself, I am fed up with the ultra-politically correct stance of organisations such as yours seeking out homophobia in places where none clearly exists.
'Your entire approach actually damages the efforts of those of us who live in the real world to make any kind of headway in the fight against real homophobia - you know, the one that's responsible for people being kicked unconscious outside nightclubs, or driven to suicide through bullying.'
Another said: 'I'm gay and I found the ad hilarious. If you make the connection speed walking and homosexuality then you just perpetuating the stereotypes about gay men.
'And it sad to see that gay people start to take themselves too seriously, and why do Americans feel to complain on what's is on TV on this side of the pond?
'And why people haven't anything better to do in their life than sending complaint emails?'
I couldn't agree more. I think the adverts are funny and not in the least homophobic. I think this boils down to another case of a pressure group being hyper-sensitive to anything that even remotely suggests negative connotations for their cause.
A similar reaction is likely to the latest thing in UK cosmetics. It seems that "Guy-Liner" and "Manscara" are about to be launched upon unsuspecting English consumers.
In an increasingly metrosexual world, perhaps it was just a matter of time.
But yesterday a high street store announced that it would start stocking makeup designed just for men.
'Guy-liner' and 'Manscara' to enhance the eyes of the male in your life, will appear in Superdrug this week.
Yesterday, the company's director of trading Jeff Wemyss insisted that its cosmetics - branded Taxi Man - are not just for transvestites.
He said: "These days you can be macho and wear make-up. If you look at people like Russell Brand and Robbie Williams, they both wear make-up and they are both very red-blooded men.
'Men are more obsessed with their appearance than ever before. There is no longer any pain in being seen to be vain.'
He added: 'We believe there is a real market for cosmetic products. The majority of our customers are women and we believe that these products will be bought by women for their partners, as well as by men themselves.'
Make-up role model: Russell Brand is famous for wearing eye-liner and mascara
The cosmetics' creator Peter Kelly said: 'We've developed essentials any guy would borrow from his other half.
'It's about subtle make-up rather than wanting to create the drag queen look.'
Uh-huh. Well, Mr. Kelly, if you'd borrow such things from your "other half", good luck to you! Where I live, any man borrowing them from his "other half" could confidently expect to be driven out of the bathroom - and perhaps the house - on the business end of a shotgun! Perhaps that's why the term "metrosexual" isn't heard much in bayou country . . . or anywhere else outside the more goofy metroplexes. I can just imagine the reaction if I suggested to my buddies Ambulance Driver, JPG or Lawdog that they try this stuff! (Hint: It wouldn't be polite, or pretty, for that matter.)
Somehow I don't see "Guy-Liner" or "Manscara" in our future at all. Of course, if you were to use an advertisement showing Mr. T shooting Snickers bars at those wearing them . . .