“Valentine’s Day” Promotion Gets “De-Gayed”

Valentine’s Day is coming! And with it the usual traditions that include an outrageous price hike in roses, an outrageous price hike in restaurant dining, and the well-timed rom-com. The role of the latter belongs to a flick to be released on Feb. 12, “Valentine’s Day.” (What a clever title, eh?) In the same mold as last year’s V-Day movie, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” “Valentine’s Day” is a compilation film that jams as many familiar faces into a cast of characters with different story lines that occasionally intermix. The film includes performances from sexy actors Bradley Cooper, Ashton Kutcher, Patrick Dempsey, and Eric Dane.

However, from the posters and trailers for the film it is hard to know that the infamous “McSteamy” is in the film. Dane’s name appears on the movie posters, but, unlike the rest of the cast, his face is not present on the actor-compiled heart. In the trailers for the film Dane is not shown in any of the scenes extracted from the movie, he is just shown alongside his name. So what is Dane’s role? Narrator? Nope. In reality Dane is a victim of advertisement editing that eliminates the trace of homosexual relationships in a film, even though they are central to the storyline. In other words, the film’s advertisements have been “de-gayed.” (And yes that means that Dane’s character is shacking up with another one of the male desirables in the film.)

In “Valentine’s Day,” Dane plays Bradley Cooper’s closeted football-player boyfriend. Would learning this info from the trailers and posters for the film have made you more or less interested in seeing it? Unfortunately, regardless of your reaction, those in charge of marketing have already decided for you. Instead of playing on the publicity of a dreamy Cooper and Dane partnership (“Brokeback Mountain,” anyone?), the advertisers of the film have decided to disguise it. Whether it is out of fear, ignorance, greed, or something else, “Valentine’s Day” is another example of the “de-gaying” of movie marketing.

How does one “de-gay” film advertisements? By putting a heterosexual relationship in its place of course! In “Valentine’s Day,” this substitute relationship is fulfilled with scenes of Cooper and Julia Roberts smiling coyly at each other on an airplane. Another victim of this guy-girl swap was the marketing for Tom Ford’s “A Single Man,” a film that is centered on a man (Colin Firth) remembering and overcoming the loss of his male lover (Matthew Goode). In the trailer, on the other hand, the film seems to be about a romantic relationship between Firth’s character and Julianne Moore‘s. Moore and Firth are seen crying, dancing, fighting, and kissing, like all normal couples. Any shots of Goode are limited to him standing alone or amongst a crowd, but his absence doesn’t end there. The actor’s name is not included in the trailer and his face is absent from the film posters.

In a brief defense of “A Single Man,” the film also deals with the friendship and old romantic relationship that once existed between Moore and Firth’s characters. But the reason that Firth’s character is “a single man” is because his long-term boyfriend died, not because he and Moore’s character broke up. The marketing for the film should give this dominating plot point, and poor Matthew Goode, some recognition.

I am happy to see the acceptance of gay couples in the fictional film world. But for this transition to be truly meaningful and complete, this acceptance needs to trickle down to marketing as well. To alter the impression of a film plot through advertising in order to conceal the presence of a gay love story is wrong. And besides, who wouldn’t be interested in Dane and Cooper being a couple? Come on, milk that! [Queerty, Vulture]

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