YouTube Brings on the Great Prop 8 Debate

UPDATE: Read the comments for Mer’s video footage and horrifying account of a face-to-face encounter with a violent group of Yes-to-Prop 8 protesters.

In anticipation of California’s chance to vote on Proposition 8 (which aims to ban same-sex marriage) this coming November 4th, YouTube has exploded with professional and “fan-made” commercials from both camps. How do they compare? Let’s take a look.

While opponents of Prop 8 have a slim lead in California, the Mormon Church has poured millions of dollars into the effort to support Prop 8, which adds just the right touch of irony to the following:

The above ad tries to inject a viewer’s ambivalent attitude towards gay marriage with an instinctive revulsion towards pedophilia/incest. It does so by creating a sequence that’s superficially linear, yet quite visually consistent (and fun to look at), making this the strongest ad on the “Yes” side. Other ads are not so smooth. For example: who in the history of plastic dolls ever made Ken and Barbie marry each other? No, no – this is how every normal girl ages 6 – 8 plays with Barbie (the rest of us blacked out their eyes with Magic Markers before decapitating them). Mattel itself couldn’t have possibly made it more clear than when they released Ken’s buddy, Allan, back in 1964 (note the use of quotation marks on the outside packaging).

Even less realistic is the following ad – who are these people? I love the girl who says that “adoption agencies may be forced to place children in same-sex marriages.” Would they be forced to provide dowry as well? Most baffling of all is this official “Yes to Prop 8” ad, in which an annoying WASPy girl fails not just to produce a convincing argument, but in fact to produce any argument whatsoever. Verbatim quote: “uhh I hate this! You know I’m no good at arguing this kind of stuff… uh, uhm, I tell you what – I have a website, and you can look at it, and we’ll talk about it, OK?” And South Africa and the Iraq and such as. Except this was scripted.

So, what’s the best that the “No” side has got? Despite the fact that lampooning Mac vs. PC ads is a bit 2007, here’s my personal favorite:

I’m going to start using the word “amend” more. My choice for runner-up? Margaret Cho and Selene Luna, the latter appearing in “mom drag” as Margaret’s well-meaning but confused neighbor. The Molly Ringwald ad is also cute. And if it’s Serious Business you want, here’s a touching ad from a straight couple that’s been married for 46 years.

In closing, November 4th is just around the corner. Research the ballot propositions in your state, whether or not there are clever YouTube videos for them. Vote!

30 Responses to “YouTube Brings on the Great Prop 8 Debate”

  1. fromtherivers Says:

    Molly Ringwald’s ad ends with a HOMOtracker logo that’s scary in a “we know where you are” kind of way. Although maybe HOMOtracker is just the PC term for Gaydar.

    Back in my early teens, I would have loved similar ads against the Mutant Registration Act.

  2. Eugene Says:

    Nice article. Thanks. :) Eugene

  3. Rex Parker Says:

    I wish that first ad had a black man and white woman in it – this “slippery slope to pedophilia” argument was surely around when people were fighting miscegenation.

    “If a black man is allowed to marry a white woman, what’s next? A Filipino marrying a lizard!? Yes on 8! McCain ’08!”

    Jeez Louise.


  4. David Forbes Says:

    Many thanks for this post, Nadya. I’ve been following the debate on 8 for awhile now. Personally, I think the most effective ad from the “Yes” side was this early one. I like Newsom, and I’m inclined to agree with him, but he comes off looking extremely arrogant in the clip, and the ad uses that well.

    The problem with any of the Yes side’s ads is that even the best produced one imaginable still just boils down to a big argument ad traditio: we’ve done it this way, dammit and we’re always going to do it this way! There’s really no other basis for the Yes campaign or for any opposition to equal marriage rights.

    Case in point: the featured “Yes” ad up top could have been made in slightly different form 30 years ago, targeting interracial marriage — and indeed, those exact same arguments were used.

    As most people out there who believe in that “tradition” are already pretty ardent, it’s kind of preaching to the choir. The No side has more lines of attack. The fact that their opponents are the traditionalists makes possible both the humorous Mac and PC-esque ads and the more serious “think about what this repression does to actual human beings, you festering asshats” ads.

    The whole fight has much wider implications. Obama is for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, as is Pelosi. If that were to happen, it’s very possible that states could be required to recognize same-sex marriages made elsewhere. The defeat of 8 in the most populous state in the country would go a long way towards making equal marriage legal everywhere.

  5. Robert Says:

    Some Evangelical Ministers are urging people to Vote NO on Proposition 8. Also, isn’t the parental notification initiative more important to Christians?

  6. Brendan D. Says:

    On the “NO” side, I’m also fond of the ad featuring Lynn Breedlove and Leslie Mah of the kickass queercore band Tribe 8:

    I like that it targets folks in the queer community who might think that the bill doesn’t affect them because they’re not into marriage or monogamy.

  7. Io Says:

    Here’s my initial, gut response: As a non-hetero woman, I’m torn between crying and throwing my fist through a wall. This level of senseless hatred is so painful to see. I remember all too well how people reacted when I was 15 and would go out with my first girlfriend — along with comments about how we were “going to burn,” we even got rape threats.

    Emotions aside, one of the most crucial flaws in homophobic reasoning is how homosexual behavior is linked to incest and pedophilia. Forget issues of consent or abusive scenarios, from a biological standpoint this is flawed.

    Homosexual behavior is found across the broad spectrum of the animal kingdom, from dolphins to chimps, to rabbits, hyenas, and even birds. However, incest and pedophilia are far more rare (though they sometimes occur, but usually in times of reproductive duress or scarcity), as there is an inborn aversion to these behaviors because they are malproductive.

    On the other hand, there has been some research to suggest that although homosexuality doesn’t produce children, it can be useful in forming alliances and strengthening social bonds within communities of animals (like dolphins and Bonobo chimps), and in the case of early humans, some anthropologists have even suggested that it might have benefited mothers who would otherwise be alone with their children when the males were hunting/at war/dead and that the males might have used it as mechanism to enhance group cohesion (as Greeks did). Finally, there has also been the suggestion that it may be a harmless means of population control.

    Regardless of the theory, from what we observe in the animal kingdom, the LAST argument that can be used against homosexuality is that it’s “unnatural.”

  8. marsiouxpial Says:

    you know, separation between church and state is a joke, right?
    it’s totally okay for a religious group to impose their opinions and beliefs onto a group of people they don’t even know and drastically affect their lives. and it’s really great when people are deprived of their rights because they’re not equal enough, or better yet, they’re not even human.

    and you know, traditions are always the right and proper thing to to! like infanticide targeting specific genders!
    they’ve been doing that forever! it must be right and NEVER questioned!

    oh, happy, happy times…

    i’m completely enraged and when i’m enraged…
    i RAMBLE

    what just makes me so goddamn upset is the lack of tolerance, understanding and compassion and the pure arrogance of the “vote yes on prop 8” side. the reason why there is so much hatred and anger is this world is because people don’t want to understand that the other side is human. that all humans, not matter what deserve happiness, respect, compassion and understanding.

    i feel sad for those who are so intolerant and ignorant. i often wonder if they were born that way, raised that why by parents who didn’t know any better, or if something happened to them in their lives to make them so hateful.

    (i have a battle cry/call to action here , if anyone is interested in helping me out!! )

    this will be my first year that i’m voting.
    and i’m proud of the fact.

  9. Dave L. Says:

    On Thursdays there’s a big ‘Yes on 8’ demonstration at the first major intersection I drive through after getting off the 101 on the way home from work, and every time I see it, I hate my town a little bit more. Throw in the signs that read “Prop 8 = Parental Rights” and “Prop 8 = Freedom of Speech” and “Prop 8 = Religious Freedom,” and it is a hard thing not to roll down my windows and scream obscenities at them as I drive past.

    Of course if you drive another hour or so north or south, the No on 8 signs start to outnumber the Yes on 8 signs, so it’s like I’m living in this little black hole of conservatism and hatred in the middle of Southern California.

  10. Kung Foodie Says:

    Here’s a great vid from the Vote NO side…

  11. "Greg" Says:

    And not to be self-promoting, but another No on 8 ad, this one directed by me:

  12. Mer Says:

    Well, for whatever it’s worth, here’s me getting attacked while documenting a group of Prop 8 supporters earlier today:

    The Face of Proposition 8 from Theremina on Vimeo.

    This footage was recorded 10/23/08 in Oakland, CA, on a public street corner near Lake Merritt.

    I was on my way home from the Lakeshore district when I encountered this rally. After turning my vidphone on, I was screamed at, physically intimidated and eventually attacked by one of the more aggressive sign-wavers.

    Approx two dozen people were standing under the I-580, chanting “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” and “Mom and Dad, not Dad and Dad”, etc. There were at least three counter-protesters present as well.

    For several minutes prior to shooting this footage, I watched from a distance. One of the Prop 8 supporters lunged at a solitary man holding a “Vote No on Prop 8” sign. She didn’t actually touch him, but she got right up in his face, screaming. She was loud enough that you could hear her several blocks away. As far as I could see, he hadn’t provoked her in any way beyond the dissenting opinion stated on his sign. The man seemed to remain quiet and calm throughout. Witnessing this, I decided to turn on my phone’s video application and approach.

    Proponents of Prop 8 have gone to great lengths to try to deny the inherent fear, anger and bigotry fueling their camp’s desire to ban gay marriage. However, these Prop 8 supporters (and many other protesters I’ve seen in recent weeks) were visibly enraged and screaming themselves hoarse in their righteous indignation over the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in the state of California.

    Having documented this clash between fellow Oaklanders, I’m putting it online because I think it’s important to convey to as many people as possible –supporters and dissenters alike— just how irrational, hysterical and potentially dangerous the situation actually is. This is bigotry, blind rage and senseless hatred of the saddest kind.

    Something to keep in mind: when I hit the record button, I hadn’t said a single word to anyone, or interfered with the rally in any way. I stood a fair distance from all of the sign-wavers (remaining at least four feet away from all of them…until they approached me). But as soon as they noticed me filming them, I was greeted with curses and threats of violence. “Get that shit out of here. I’ll knock it out of your hand.” None of these folks knew me, yet they instantly knew they hated me.

    Eventually, as you can see, some of the protesters surrounded me and began poking at me with their signs. Others, some of the most visibly angry and hysterical among them (apparently minors), hid their faces behind their banners while continuing to scream at passing traffic.

    I asked the most aggressive woman (who was not underage) “are you afraid to be online?” She answered, “oh, no, they already videotaped me, but these kids don’t want to be online, cause they’re [unintelligible] loaded on a sexual perv profile and [unclear] look at my little cousins.” Fair enough. I’m all for protecting the innocent. (Not that there’s anything particularly innocent about shouting hate speech in public.)

    “Go away, Nasty Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty, nasty.”

    The woman continued to poke at my face with her sign and call me “nasty.” Genuinely disturbed by the complete lack of rational behavior I’d seen up to this point, wanting to look into her face and possibly connect on some level with her as a fellow human being, I pulled a corner of the sign down away from my eyes and asked “why are you calling me nasty?”

    That’s when she attacked, clawing, grabbing and then shoving. I didn’t fight back; she was much bigger than me. Calling me a “nasty fucker” and threatening to kick my ass, she pried my phone out of my hand and tried to break it in half while her friends egged her on.

    Please note that I never touched or threatened her in any way (unless you want to consider my pulling the edge of her sign out of eye-poking territory a threatening gesture).

    As she grabbed at my phone, I stood there stunned, not really sure what to do. One of the counter-protesters (the woman who you see saying “No on Prop 8” towards the beginning of this clip) quickly intervened and calmed the attacking woman down enough that I felt safe enough to try to take my phone back. After a second or two of grappling, she let go and went back to screaming at cars from a lawn chair near the side of the road.

    (Big love and gratitude to the kindly counter-protester who pleaded for calm. I don’t think my phone would have survived without you!)

    I stood there for another minute or two, checking the phone’s applications for damage. One of the other sign-wavers, a teenage boy standing nearby, leaned over and whispered “fuck you, dyke.”

    Even though I wasn’t hurt besides a small scratch on my hand, and my phone was okay, being attacked definitely shook me up. I was a bit tearful. Call me naive, but I never thought I’d actually be in physical danger just for shooting footage of their activity and pulling the edge of a person’s sign out of my eyes. Verbal insults, sure. But attacked by an anti-gay activist? In one of the most queer-friendly neighborhoods in the bay area? Yikes.

    The man holding the “Vote No” sign noticed that I was in tears and approached me. We hugged to a chorus of jeers, exchanged some reassuring words, and I turned to leave. Someone called after me: “keep crying, and keep walking.”

    And that’s exactly what I did.

  13. Nadya Says:

    @ Mer: HOLY SHIT! Thank you for writing this. I can’t believe you went in there and had the courage to let those people surround you. Those kind of people scare the living daylights out of me; I’d have probably laughed at them from afar and kept on going, but you went right in there, documenting! I wasn’t shocked reading this because I know that they do this kind of shit, but I was horrified at imagining you being in the middle of it all. It was horrible for me to watch that video. I’m relieved it didn’t turn more ugly and that you had someone there who was on your side. I also found it sad that they instantly assumed that you were queer. It just shows how simple their ideas of compassion are. Wow.

  14. Kieron Gillen’s Workblog » Mer Yayanos Proposition 8 Protestor Footage Says:

    […] This was a scary-ass way to start the day. Comrade Meredith Yayanos documenting some pro-Proposition 8 supporters (Elimination of right of same-sex couple to marry). Just scary people, acting scarily and viciously. Worth reading her description of the event as you watch the video. […]

  15. Ben Morris Says:

    Mer: I try and wrap my head around what causes people to act like that and utterly fail. The fact that they display such rage over not being able to dictate how other people get to live their lives boggles my mind.

    I’m glad you got and shared this footage but very sorry you had to undergo what you did to get it.

  16. David Forbes Says:

    Gutsy, Mer and I’m really glad you’re unharmed.

    I’ll never entirely understand that kind of violent stupidity, but it’s a reminder that it has to be fought tooth and nail.

    A lot of us don’t live in California, but we can still give what we can to help beat this repressive bullshit back into the dark ages where it belongs. We can spread the word about this and encourage everyone we know to do the same.

  17. gooby Says:

    That video is why I left San Diego. Though at times I wish I didn’t live somewhere as tolerant as San Francisco, my being kind and open to others is appreciated and reciprocated, influences very little, preaching to the choir and all that.

    But I proved very well as a youth down in San Diego that I could take a beating from these miserable trolls, I wish I had been there with you, Mer.

    That video brings bad very painful and sad memories. I’m glad you made it out.

  18. Tequila Says:

    @Mer…The Mob! She nearly ate you alive, but you proved too hard to chew. My hats off to the bravery to both document and keep your cool about it…that kinda hate is so easily spawned. They’re like sharks at a feeding frenzy…one focus…and in this case to spit as much vile hate as they can.

    One wants to confront such force with equal force but what you did proved far more effective…it strengthened your resolve and those of others to NOT LET THESE IDIOTS HAVE THEIR WAY. EVER.

    Now fellow CH readers…shall we all bust out in the chorus from THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS for our hero Mer here? Accompanied by a theremin of course.

  19. David Forbes Says:

    Tequila: I’m more inclined to “Won’t Back Down,” but hell, she deserves a rousing chorus of a suitable anthem. I’ll sing along (albeit badly) to any of ’em.

  20. AmyTheFreak Says:

    This is my favorite one for the No side… it’s so sugary sweet and adorable.

  21. Io Says:

    Mer: I’m so glad you’re OK. And even though I don’t know you, were we in the same geographic location, I would have have loved to have stood right there with you. I applaud you for confronting such monstrous people with such grace and courage.

  22. cappy Says:

    It’s just like the fucking 60’s all over again.

    Damn, wish I woulda been there with you, but you probably wouldn’t have wanted to fight back, right?

  23. Ben Morris Says:

    Tequila & David Forbes: As far as song singing in support of Mer I think the best idea would be to resolutely sing the Beatles’ Think for Yourself (lyrics) as forcefully as possible towards every prop 8 supporter.

  24. Francesca You Betcha Says:

    This is so deeply disturbing, Mer. It appears that the coarse, cruel, and blind never fail to abandon all sense of reason and dignity in the face of opposition to their righteous bigotry.

    I’m so glad you came away from this relatively unscathed.

  25. BlueAnchorNatasha Says:

    I am seriously livid right now. I know I shouldnt be surprised at all of this, but I guess I just have more hope in humanity than I should. People are so fucking ignorant and close-minded, its physically sickening. I feel like putting my fist through a wall, crying, even sick to my stomach. Its appalling, its such appalling BULLSHIT. And the irony. Now I get to go deal with the inconsiderate mexican family behind us who blast their shit until 2+ in the morning.

  26. Jessica Says:

    “None of these folks knew me, yet they instantly knew they hated me.”
    So sad, so scary. I’m glad that you weren’t hurt! I hope that I never even *begin* to understand the these types, who seem to feed on hatred, who presume to judge that love is wrong because it doesn’t fit their own ideology. I desperately hope that the upcoming election will signal a long-overdue and desperately needed return to a more thoughtful, intelligent and open-minded America. *knock on wood*

  27. Mer Says:

  28. Tequila Says:

    @ Mer…That’s a good re-edit. As much as we know the arguments don’t carry much weight it’s clear the opposition will go as low as needed to get their way.

    I like the idea to make this issue about discrimination but it’s a tough one to gain traction on these days. The terms has been tossed about so much both in courts and in public many ignore it.

    With Gay Marriage as a right in a just and fair society being spun as an attack on religious beliefs…one has to wonder how you honestly “win” in this case.

    Lets say Prop 8 goes down in flames and the ones to follow do to. At some point the core religious values the hate to all this is based on needs to be challenged from the inside with increasing tact at that. What can’t get lost and in all truth what should be given more attention is that those against Prop 8 are not all anti-religion or just a bunch of atheists. There are those who understand the religious arguments against homosexuality are weak and have been able to find a way to keep their faith despite official bans and critiques against their lifestyles and sexual orientation.

    As much as the arguments against the mixture of church & state flame up…realistically they have and always will be intertwined. Sometimes the only way to take something down is to hammer out a support column or two. To do that you have to know how something is put together. IF this cannot remain a social issue and must be dealt as a religious one then arguments in that arena need to be made too.

    We’ve all seen, heard, and read the opposition to all this…they’re gonna make this issue bigger if they lose and more hate fueled if they win…no sense in giving them ground to build their attacks on something as interpretative as religion right?

  29. Al Embic Says:

    I continue to be dumbfounded by the amount of fear and hatred that the gay and lesbian communities instill in so-called Christians. Supposedly, it’s a faith based on universal love and humility, not prejudice and shame. On behalf of those of us with open hearts and minds, I apologize to you Mer, and to everyone else this petty, bigoted mandate will undoubtedly come to harm.

  30. Sarah Says:

    It still upsets me that this passed. I wish that there weren’t so many stupid peoplewho think its okay to tell people who to love. I still hope that they’ll allow gay marriage in California again, when the population finally stops mentally degenerating. I guess we can still rest assuered that my state, MA will never ban gay marriage. And if they do, our state is in for hell.

    I’m glad to see that this website has such good vibe towards equal marriage.