According to Dulux, two women don’t go together


I like to keep an eye on what the
boys over at AfterElton are doing — and they’ve been raving about
Ugly Betty
for so long now, as one of the gay-friendliest shows
on U.S. TV, that I figured I should check it out when it came over to
the U.K. last year. While I can’t say I completely share their enthusiasm
— the main gay character, Marc St. James, seems way too much like Jack
from Will & Grace to me, and as such he isn’t exactly breaking
any new ground — the show itself is fun, and quite sweet, and I would
probably watch it quite happily, if it were not for one thing.

That one thing is Dulux, the international
paint company that sponsors Ugly Betty in the U.K. Before every
episode starts, and at the beginning and end of each advertising break,
I have to watch another Dulux commercial. Now, normally this wouldn’t
be a big deal — after all, you can just press the mute button and think
about something else for five minutes — and perhaps I shouldn’t even
be calling attention to this. But here’s an example of the Dulux
ads that have been running recently in the U.K., on the theme of paint
colors that are a “perfect match”:


So, all the couples featured in
the ad are heterosexual. That’s no big deal, right? After all — as

Cashmere Mafia’s Alicia pointed out in relation to white women and makeup —
there are a lot of those people, and they do buy the product. I’m
aware of the ridiculousness inherent in reading too much into ads (in
searching for clips for this post, I actually came across several morons
on the internet who have been making the claim that the ad is somehow
racist against white men, because it features a white woman dumping
a white man for a black one, on the grounds that he’s better in the

The thing that gets to me, though,
is that one of these ads actually does feature a pair of women.
But this time, it’s as an example of colors that don’t match. The
two pull each other’s hair and scratch at each other’s eyes, as
the voiceover smoothly tells us “Dulux: We also know the colors that
don’t go.”

Am I paranoid if I say that — in the
context of the ads’ otherwise ubiquitous heterosexuality — this comes
across as a tiny bit homophobic? Or at least as bizarrely homo-oblivious.
The creators of the commercials have obviously gone out of their way
to make them racially diverse — would it kill them to include at least
one gay couple as an example of “colors that do go”? I know in the
U.S. they’d be risking a boycott from “pro-family” groups — but
come on, these ads are showing in the U.K. Two men or two women can
form a legal partnership here. What’s wrong with reflecting that in
the ads we watch?

Feel free to post below telling me
why I’m overreacting. Or, if you want to see examples of ads that
do feature gay or gay-suggestive themes, try heading over to the website — a fascinating archive of LGBT visibility,
both positive and negative, in advertising.

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