“Zooming In” is a weekly series in which Photo editor Shelby Lum provides her insight on pop culture.
I remember the look. The look on the woman’s face when I walked in with my family to eat at a restaurant — the judgemental look her eyes gave us as she scanned between my father’s Chinese face to my mother’s Caucasian face and then to my brother, sister and I — and I remember even more vividly when she told us we couldn’t be seated in her empty restaurant.
It wasn’t because they were closing either. We simply weren’t welcome.
So when Honey Maid aired a commercial in March as part of its campaign “This is wholesome” celebrating families that look like mine, I was more than just pleased, I was vindicated. The way my family looked wasn’t the problem, the problem was with changing and shifting cultural norms and who could keep up with them.
Honey Maid apparently can.
The company’s commercial showed an interracial family, a father with tattoos splattered up and down his arms and a same-sex couple and their children, the latter of which many had quite an issue with. So America did what America does best and took to the Internet to slam and debase Honey Maid for its commercial meant to celebrate all families.
Some called it “disgusting,” the “destruction of society” and “perverse and twisted” on YouTube and Twitter. Other commenters even went on to suggest the commercial should have shown only “pure” or “normal pairings.”
Among the hate-filled messages was One Million Moms, a conservative and anti-gay group (that coincidentally doesn’t have 1 million members) who wrote a letter which read, “Nabisco should be ashamed of themselves for their latest Honey Maid and Teddy Graham cracker commercial where they attempt to normalize sin. Right away it shows two men with a baby, followed by other families, and ends with different families pictured, including the one with two dads. This commercial not only promotes homosexuality, but then calls the scene in the advertisement wholesome.”
The classy gems at Honey Maid responded with a second commercial, because “some people didn’t agree with our message,” the commercial said. The company printed out examples of the vicious backlash and hired two artists to turn it into something different. What they created was more beautiful than the first commercial. It was love. The artists rolled up the pages with all the hateful words and made it into a piece of work that read “love” in giant scrolling letters.
It’s a lovely example of what hostility can be turned into, and the company ended up receiving more positive comments than the negative ones. Actually, the comments from the second video outnumbered the criticism of the first, 10 to one, according to the second commercial.
Given my background and my family, I will never have a traditional view of what family is. People stare at me when I am with my mother, because we aren’t carbon copies of each other. In fact, I really don’t look that much like her at all. We are different as are the families in the commercial.
The criticism of the commercial is because some people don’t see that the world is changing and the rigid lines of social normality don’t really exist anymore — if they did, I wouldn’t exist at all.
The company isn’t changing families, but just forcing viewers to see the variations that already exist. What is expected of a family now?
So excuse me while I go purchase a lifetime supply of Honey Maid graham crackers.