JC Penny Ad

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In this JC Penny ad, a homosexual couple is depicted playing with their two children of color. I appreciate JC Penny’s effort to include the gay community in their advertising. By targeting an ad towards gay men, and by featuring a gay family, JC Penny legitimizes gay men’s standing in American society and lets gay men know that they are important customers. However, it is also possible that JC Penny made a strategic decision to use gay men so that their advertisement would get free news coverage. This brings up an important question: how wrong is it to exploit a group of people for marketing needs if that exploitation does in fact help the group? JC Penny faced a lot of backlash from this ad and faced a drop in sales after its release, so it is unlikely that JC Penny was trying to strategically use gay couples to their advantage. These gay men are both white, are dressed nicely, and are shown in a modern, nice-looking home. One could claim that these factors are creating new stereotypes and that JC Penny is only accepting of upper-middle class, Caucasian gays. However, JC Penny purposefully chose a real life family to be featured in the ad and would understandably want them to be dressed nice since clothes are the ultimate product.

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One thought on “JC Penny Ad

  1. tiffanygomez1

    I love your post! I have often thought about the same things you have in regards to gay men on TV. The first example that comes to mind is the depiction of Mitch and Cam, the homosexual couple on Modern Family. While the inclusion of homosexual characters, and more importantly, couples, on television is something that many considered revolutionary, I considered their depictions to be a further stigmatization of the way that heterosexual individuals portray homosexual individuals. For example, you mentioned that the men in the ad are Caucasian and upper-middle class. The men in Modern Family fit the same description. Consequently, this leaves out many populations of people that do not identify by these characteristics. Minority homosexuals? Individuals of low socio-economic income? Lesbians? Queer? Where exactly is their place in society? I think media inadvertently is creating a new stereotype for homosexual characters and they fit the description that you gave.
    While this is less related to ads and more related to television, the way that these characters interact with each other are also problematic when trying to give homosexual characters visibility. For example, Cam is very flamboyant; he loves musical theatre, is a music teacher and is a stay-at-home dad for most of the show. Conversely, his partner, Mitch, is a lawyer who is rarely home and is the principal breadwinner of the home. Again, despite the visibility of gay characters, the characters are being portrayed and manipulated in the heteronormative way that society wants them to be viewed— one fulfilling the heterosexual father norm and another fulfilling the heterosexual mother one. While I know that visibility of gay characters is important, I think that is a hurdle that we have gotten over. The next obstacle to surpass is the depictions and representation of these characters once they are exposed on television.

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