Attack of the Shocking Kindle

This ad relies on the heteronormative presumption of heterosexuality to shock the audience. Although the ad does nothing to indicate sexual tension between the man and woman, the existence of a man and a woman on the beach plays upon heteronormative narratives of romance.  Chambers explains that heterosexuality is presupposed by heteronormativity; the default is heterosexuality and anything else is “other” (96). Thus, when the man asks if the woman wants to celebrate the arrival of his Kindle, the audience expects some sort of romantic conclusion. The audience is then surprised when the man says that he, too, has a husband on the way.

Despite its shock value, the ad includes no image or person that is subversive to the patriarchal order. Wan-Hsiu explains that when ads depict gay men, they are often represented as the “Gay Dream Consumer Stereotype” (13). These men appear to be “educated, wealthy, fashionable, and upper-middle class” (13). The man in the ad seems to fall into this category and also appears to be “happily married.”  Both the stereotype and the use of marriage allow the advertisement to use sexuality for shock value without being subversive. Marriage and consumerism are sanctioned by heteronormativity, and thus won’t threaten the patriarchy.

Chambers, Samuel A. “Heteronormativity and the L Word: From a Politics of Representation to a Politics of Norms.” Reading The L Word: Outing Contemporary Television. By Kim Akass. Ed. Janet McCabe. London: I.B. Tauris, 2006. 81-98. Print.

Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai. “Assimilating the Queers: Representations of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Mainstream Advertising.” Advertising & Society Review 11, no. 1 (2010) (accessed July 31, 2012).

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