Subway says Pepperoni Makes You Gay

The fuck? Watching this commercial makes my brain hurt:

If I understand the scenario, two guys are eating sandwiches at a Subway restaurant. They enthuse about the flavor-enhancing qualities of adding pepperoni to a sandwich. They are then launched into a shared hallucination where they’re being poled along a canal in Venice by a gondolier. Someone (not the gondolier, though by tradition, they sing for tips) sings a song about Pepperoni to the tune of “O Solo Mio.” Their eyes lock, the spell is broken, and they awkwardly make small talk about sports.

The point is that in their fantasy, the sandwiches and the gondola ride awakens homoerotic feelings in them. What I don’t get is how this in any way is supposed to sell sandwiches. It’s like that insane Quizno’s advert where it’s implied that the sandwich chef has burned his dick sticking it in a gay sandwich oven.

What’s especially disturbing about this is it enacts the specious narrative that it’s possible to Catch The Gay. If you’re not vigilant, deviant desires might catch you unawares and turn you into one of those butt-sex-loving nancy boys. The absurdity of this is premise is rivaled only by its durability in the American imagination. Even if it is possible (and every variation of human behavior is possible!), why would two men discovering they desire each other be such a horrible thing? And why are they using it to sell crappy sandwiches?

Up until a few years ago advertisements seemed to follow a recognizable narrative with an obvious subtext. You could deconstruct them, and even if they were dishonest or sexist or whatever, they made some sort of objective sense. They sought to awaken or create a desire in the viewer, that can only be satisfied by the product being advertised. The moral implications of that aside, at least you knew where you stood.

Now it seems like they’ve added a new rhetorical strategy to the field: arguing from the premise of what the fuck? In other words, come up with something implausible, maybe a little risque, that in no way makes any sense. Then you remember the product because you think “what the fuck was that about?” I guess it works, since I bothered to write about it.

So resist. Don’t buy Subway — their sandwiches taste like newspaper anyway. And if you can’t resist or have no choice, do not add pepperoni to your order. Pepperoni adds nothing but nitrites, salt, and saturated fat to the meal.

Of course, this ad fits perfectly with my theory that nothing advertised on television is good for you. The healthiest diet available to an American is the one where if it’s advertised on television, you don’t eat it. When was the last time you saw an advertisement for kale? Or brown rice?* The whole basis of the corporate food business is Added Value: You take foodstuffs, bought as cheaply as possible, adulterate it with salt, sugar, and fat, package it, and advertise it. Then you profit when people sicken themselves by eating it.

*and here’s another constantly reinforced trope of mass media — if it’s good for you it must taste like crap. How many times have you seen a sitcom where the joke is that people get stuck in a ‘healthy’ restaurant and the joke is ‘the food is good for you but it’s disgusting!” Haha very funny. Fact is, if you stop eating bad food and start eating healthy things, your palate changes and the healthy stuff tastes better.

4 thoughts on “Subway says Pepperoni Makes You Gay”

  1. I come back to the US after 14 months away – without a TV signal – and advertising is BIZARRE. I never liked it to begin with but the whole wtf action makes me dislike it more.

  2. I can’t tell which is more Gay in this commercial — the pretty boy gondolier or the two dufases who would actually take a gondolier ride together sitting side by side in a an ultra-narrow boat which is what lovers do in Venice — not two dudes! And that “love of Pepperoni” would bring two heterosexual guys to dream about sitting together in a romantic boat ride — is just BIZARRE. I think the writer of this commercial was a twisted gay prangster who figured out a funny way to make heterosexuals come together in a homosexual way — all for the audience’s amusement and promotion of eating at Subway’s. TRICKY! But downright twisted and WEIRD. Makes me wonder if Subway Sandwich shops are a gay hangout now — or a haven for homophobes — neither of which makes me want to run to Subways for a sandwich.

  3. I stopped reading at “poled.” Made your point right there.

    BTW, Subway sammiches taste less like newspaper if you throw out the bread.

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