Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Exciting "Marriage Defense" Graphics Contest!

An internet "marriage defense" blogging group is holding an "'I Support Marriage!' graphics contest. I'm not sure if voting is open to the general public, but I urge you to check out some of the "best" graphics thus far. It's always a good idea to stay abreast of the opposition's messaging strategies. From what I've deduced, the graphics generally fall into one of four distinct categories. If the general public is allowed to submit entries, I've also created my own graphics for this contest.

1. I'm a Cute Baby, Therefore Same-Sex Marriage is Wrong!

This first category, as the name implies, essentially takes advantage of the cuteness of small children in order to advance a particular political agenda. Babies are cute and fragile. We want to protect them and perhaps nuzzle their soft baby skin. You will recognize these graphics by their uncapitalized, cutesy childlike font and reliance on little more than pathos-inducing photos of small children making first-person statements like "i need a mommy and a daddy." (Conveniently, one may also substitute phrases like 'i deserve to live' and recycle these images for anti-choice ads).

Now, as we learned from movies like Look Who's Talking, imbuing 3-month old babies with the ability to form complete sentences and articulate political sensibilities is completely possible. While some of you may be thinking that a little speaking baby would more say "i need a nap and a bottle, and then i might poop my pants," it's totally likely that the baby is rarin' to go for a full-on debate regarding the merits and demerits of granting full marriage equality to gay and lesbian citizens. If only he or she could talk, of course.

For my entry into this category, I'd like to present:


2. Happy Embracing Heterosexuals

Consisting of smiling, happy male-female newlyweds the argument here is, essentially, marriage should only be between a man and a woman because only a man and a woman can get married (and look how happy they are on their wedding day)! Not that the feelings of gay men and lesbians matter, but these ads are some of the more insensitive ones in circulation. I mean, isn't it sort of unbecoming for "marriage defenders" to show gloating couples celebrating the hap-hap-happiest days of their lives as though it's a given that a mere photo of a heterosexual bride and groom automatically wins the case? I think there's a word for that sort of assumption. It's called heterosexism.

Here is my entry into this category:


3. The Quaintly Simple

Third, we have the ads that can best be described as suffering from a dearth of creativity. These consist of clip art images of stop signs, hand-holding "male" and "female" images like from a bathroom door sign, and a "reclaimed"/co-opted image of the gay pride rainbow with the phrase "marriage, one man one woman" on it. In a nod to the special complementarity of men and women, one slightly more creative image includes a yin-yang. (Because in their typical uptightness politeness when it comes to describing or depicting sex, most "marriage defenders" know to be subtle about how male and female private parts fit together so tidily. Only that special, rare "marriage defender" will actually post graphics of heterosexual coitus to make the same point).

Nonetheless, these images are cute, because someone probably worked very hard to come up with them. It's endearing, aside from the images existing for purposes of denying gay men and lesbians equal rights. Er, I mean "defending marriage." (You say tomato, I say tomahto).

Anyway, here's my entry:


4. The Bizarre

The final category is sort of a catch-all for what can best be described as the batpoop bizarro ads. If you scroll down a bit, in what is perhaps a relevant(?) shout-out to the button-eyed characters of Coraline, you will notice that one of the images is of a little girl with giant pink candy hearts glued(?) over her eyes. Above the girl are the words: "Support marriage: Don't be blind." I'm not really sure what the argument here is. Only blind people support gay marriage? When same-sex marriage is legalized, little girls are forced to wear pink hearts over their eyes? I don't know. I think it's open to interpretation.

Then, nearby, you will see an image of a man running away from what looks like waves or some sort of abstract blue open-jawed shadow monster. The phrase accompanying this image is "In case of judicial activism recall the judges." Personally, I think what they really mean to say here is "If we don't get our way, we should get rid of judges," but that's just a nit-picky point. The real point here is that the image is bizarre and only tangentially-related to marriage being between one man and one woman. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think I get this one though. California is on a coast. So, when liberal judges make decisions that conservatives disagree with, one should proceed to higher ground because a tidal wave (or a scary blue monster attack) is imminent. Recalling judges causes tidal waves (or monster-thingies) to go away. Or something.

Anyway, here is my entry into this category:


I think some of the entrants in this contest are trying to be artsy and creative here, and that's good. I think they should keep going with that. Since I don't want to be conceited and vote for my own images, my personal vote in this contest is for Coraline Pink Heart Girl. It would be really great for "marriage defenders" if that image went viral.

In all seriousness, these images are indicative of a real cultural arrogance. Whether they're posting pictures of magical "marriage defense" babies or laughing heterosexual newlyweds I see this broad assumption that only some people in our society get to define what a Real Family is. For instance, one of my friends recently informed me that one member of this particular "marriage defense" blogging group, known as "Liberty Belle," has been trolling the "I Support the Unanimous Iowa Supreme Court Ruling- Gay Marriage" Facebook page. Specifically she/he has joined the Facebook group and has been posting some of these "marriage defense" graphics as though they are part of this marriage equality group's own images. That this person feels entitled to enter space specifically designated for marriage equality support and to co-opt it into the antithesis of that is evidence of this sort of cultural arrogance.

However unlikely it is that these images will convince anyone who's mind is not already made up, some of these bizarre images probably do distract some people from the futility of the All Kids Need a Mom and a Dad message that many are beginning to realize is really nothing more than a non-fact-based stereotype, an argumentum ad gastrum, if you will. I think the Iowa Supreme Court put it well with respect to this issue. No matter how much the graphic artists above feel it in their gut that all children need a mommy and a daddy, "these opinions, while thoughtful and sincere, [are] largely unsupported by reliable scientific studies." But hey, why go with science when there are messages to spread.

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