Really DC50, Did You Need To Go There?

Originally uploaded by tbridge

I was walking through Barracks Row today and spotted this ad for bodice-ripper show Gossip Girl on the CW. I recognize the glare makes it hard to see it, but that’s a black guy(1) giving that white girl a hickey, emblazoned with the text, courtesy of the Boston Globe, “Every Parent’s Nightmare.”

Okay, the show has a lot of drinking and some sexual content, but did you really need to go all 1950’s-in-Georgia on us?

(1) I’ve been told that this has been covered over and over again elsewhere and that the castmember necking with the girl is, in fact, white. And that there’s been some sort of hand-wringing outrage with regard to this particular ad campaign, all of which has been done by people with better credentials than I. So, really, what’s that say about the whole thing? It’s a tempest in a teapot, no question. But, I’d invite anyone who thinks I’m being silly to go check out the bus shelter ad at 3rd & Pennsylvania SE and tell me I’m wrong. I can totally take it. But I think that guy looked black and that’s what made the campaign, in light of its association with past societal sins, a little bit questionable. Edgy, even, just like I’m told the show is.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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14 thoughts on “Really DC50, Did You Need To Go There?

  1. Oh man. And they put this ad out in a city with a MAJORITY BLACK population. Marketing genius from your racist friends at “the CW”

  2. It is not a black guy. There are no black male characters on the show. It is either Penn Bagley or Chase Crawford, both of whom are extremely Caucasian. I’m wondering what this says about the tipster that they’d mistake an obviously white male for an African American?

  3. I’m with Alicia; I’ve seen this ad a lot here in Chicago and it’s pretty clear it’s a white guy (to be fair, half his face is obscured, but going by the hair I’m betting on Penn Bagley).

  4. Tom, you clearly don’t watch Gossip Girl! It’s totally dan humphry (penn bageley) in the ad, he’s the blonde girl’s (serena vanderwoodsen) boyfriend from the show (and in real life), DEFINITLEY NOT a black guy… someone must have given Penn a dark fake tan, but he’s not black! Not to mention i don’t think that the boston globe would talk about interracial affairs in those terms. gossip girl is just out to be racy, not to be confused with racist.

  5. One of the most refreshing things about the old DC Metblogs and now We Love DC is their apparent lack of interest in what “everyone else” is talking about out on the ‘net most of the time. This “controversial” Gossip Girl advertising campaign has been covered AT LENGTH by media critics for the last two months, and yet Tom manages to not only post as if none of that hand-wringing and obsession had occurred, but also implies that a national ad campaign is somehow the responsibility of a local network affiliate, while finding a brand new and mistaken reason to complain about the ads … that’s quality stuff!

  6. Given that four out of the five respondents posted that you are wrong, don’t you think it is irresponsible to leave up your false assertion that the WB is running a racist ad campaign?

  7. @Alicia, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t watch the show, and probably never will. I’m well outside the demographic. However, when I saw that poster, the man in question looked African American, no question. Now, it’s possible that’s an invention of the ad firm.

    Or, there’s a decent chance the shade of the bus shelter made it appear something it wasn’t.

    Also, you can breathe easy, alicia, I’ll be updating the story with your comments. I just thought it was a particularly odd choice for a TV station in a majority black media market.

    @Nate, not being all that interested in Advertising as a whole, I’ve somehow missed that particular hand-wringing controversy. I suppose that’s a tragedy for some folks, but I’m mostly a computer geek, not a TV geek, so I’d missed that somehow. It happens, I can’t read everything on the intarwebs. Well, not and get my work done ;)

  8. The problem is that I’ve seen that ad too, in print in magazines, on the bus stops billboards, and in motion on television. You are flat wrong if you think the guy looks black and the reference to “every parents nightmare” was the portrayal of sex, booze, and drugs many of the teen characters regularly partake in, with little consequence.

    The ad campaign has been taken to task because the show last season didn’t do particularly well ratings-wise and many parents thought it was disgraceful that they’d capitalize on a taboo image to draw in viewers. Ratings are up though, so whatever you think about the campaign, its drawing more eyeballs to the show.

  9. I’m shocked- shocked!- that I might not have heard what a bunch of “media critics” are saying about a show I don’t watch that trades on parental insecurity about teenage misbehavior in the year of Bristol Palin. Personally, I have little attention for media critics, and what little patience I do have for them is usually expended on their commentary about shows I actually watch.

    Additionally, the local affiliate’s logo is clearly featured on the ad, so whether or not they are directly responsible for the campaign is less relevant than the fact that they’ve allowed themselves to be associated with it. It’s possible that the network relations/marketing people at DC50 are avid watchers of this crappy show, recognized the character, and therefore the racial overtones of this ad simply escaped their notice. However, since the general purpose of advertising is to attract people to the show who DO NOT ALREADY WATCH, defending it on the basis of, “Duh, you’d know it was a white guy if you watched it” is pretty weak.

    The image has clearly been processed in such a way as to darken/shadow the complexions of the actors, and while the girl’s blonde hair clearly gives her away as a Caucasian, the boy is sufficiently obscured such that his race isn’t immediately clear to the target of the ad- people who do not already watch the show. As such, combining that image with that tagline is about as irresponsible as the TIME/OJ Simpson mugshot incident.

  10. @alicia – I’d love to say you’re right and that I’m wrong, all I can tell you was that was the thought that leapt to mind when I saw the ad. I had a whole block to think about it as I walked up Penn Ave toward Good Stuff, and I even circled back by to talk this picture. Having not seen the show, I was fairly convinced it was a black guy. I dunno. It sure could’ve been the darkening of the ad via the tinting of the bus shelter plastic, it could’ve been the lighting in the initial shot, but he looked black to me.

    Not being in any of the same demographics as the show, this is the first version of the ad that I’ve seen, anywhere.

  11. If the worst thing anyone says about us is that sometimes we’re completely unaware of some net controversy somewhere and we end up posting about it independently…. I consider us doing pretty well.

    The first I heard about this campaign and any upset about it was in yesterday’s WaPo. I saw it in print for the first time less than a week ago, also in WaPo.

  12. If you gave it a chance you’d find that GG is a fun and smartly written show. Sure it’s populated with beautiful people, but it’s television. I think you should give it a chance!

  13. Sorry Brian, I don’t do faux-high-school dramas. I hated high school enough the first time, I see no reason to live through it again, vicariously with hot people in NYC.