Soup? Or fear?

In a current Campbell’s soup campaign, the company portrays real people, in real families, in their advertisements. One of these ads has planted fear in the minds of people who are terrified at the idea of the normalization of same-sex-parent families.

The ad at the heart of the controversy depicts two fathers and their son, a can of Campbell’s soup with Darth Varder’s picture on the label between them. One dad breathes the familiar metallic sound and says, “Luke, I am your father.” Then the other dad, in his take on Darth Vader’s voice, says, “No, Luke; I am your father.” The kid giggles each time and eats some of the soup his dads are feeding him. The ad ends as dad #1 teasingly tells the other dad he’s not a good Darth Vader and should try the Chewbacca voice instead. It all seems harmless enough. So what’s the fuss about?

A group called One Million Moms (affiliated with the American Family Association) is happy to tell you all about the evils of this ad and its dangerous messages. We can deflect/destroy, from a rational point of view, all of their claims. What we can’t do is talk them out of their fears.

One claim by OMM is that hearing two different men tell the boy that they are his father will confuse him. But the child in this ad is maybe five years old. Unless he’s newly adopted, he’s not likely to be confused. It isn’t news to him that he has two dads, it isn’t scary, and it isn’t confusing. And the Darth Vader voices are part of a game.

OMM accuses Campbell’s of complicity with what OMM call’s “the LGBT agenda.” But what is the LGBT agenda? Actually, there isn’t any one group that represents the LGBT community, and so there isn’t an LGBT agenda as such. It might be fair to say that the goal of LGBTQIA individuals is acceptance. And that’s pretty scary for people whose sense of “God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world” includes keeping perverted, unnatural elements relegated to the fringes of society. But the biological and psychological sciences have proven beyond any doubt that sexual orientation and sexual identity have nothing to do with perversion, and that if someone wants to condemn people for being gay, they can’t use the term unnatural to do so, because it’s inaccurate. There’s nothing unnatural about being gay. I won’t even bother to link to anything here; if you doubt the statement, you do the research I’ve already done.

OMM says that with this “gay-inclusive” ad, Campbell’s is trying to “desensitize” audiences. One response that comes to mind is, “Yeah, so what’s your point?” But the fact is that Campbell’s is in business. To make money. Not to change viewers’ minds about what’s natural for families. They want their consumer base to include as many people as possible, and they see the tide turning toward LGBT inclusion and acceptance. More and more LGBT individuals are forming families, and Campbell’s wants all parents—straight and gay—to agree with them that their soup is “food kids love.” So they have a limited edition Star Wars series of their pasta with chicken in chicken broth variety, featuring different characters from the film series. Campbell’s wants the market, regardless of what the families look like. In other words, they’ll take anyone’s money. I’ll say this again: They’re a business, not an activist group.
Next OMM castigates Campbell’s for an ad that, in OMM’s opinion, “should not be highlighting who is attracted to whom or who sleeps with whom.” Well, they get credit for correct grammar, but that’s all. Because if we were to remove this kind of “highlighting” from all our ads, then commercials all over the place—from soup to nuts to cars to laundry detergent—would have to be changed; the vast majority of family scenarios depict adults who are presumed to be sleeping together in order to beget the children in their families. And that’s all you see in this ad OMM is so afraid of.

If OMM had put their brains into gear before starting their counter-campaign, they would have figured out that their own arguments hold no… um… broth. But they didn’t. They let their fear-driven, lizard-brain responses (that is, if something is different from me, it must be wrong) cause them to confabulate “reasons” why their fear is justified, and they formed a group of like-minded non-thinkers to prop up their fear-based position.

Along with anyone who fear and would try to limit the human and civil rights of LGBTQIA individuals, OMM will be left behind. It’s too bad, too, because we need passionate, committed people to stand up for what they believe. We just need them to think first.