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Company: Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
    View Company Scorecard / Contact Company
Brand: GLSEN
Ad Title: Judy Shepard
Business Category: National Politics
Media Outlets: Television
Country: United States
Region: North America
Agency: Public Interest Productions/Radical Media
Year: 1999
Target: Mainstream
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Theme(s)

Consciousness Raising

Real GLBT Person

Problematic Language

Theme Breakdown

AdRespect Score: 
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Several aggressive toughs walk toward the camera shouting epithets including, "faggot," "queer," "homo," and "What are you, a fag?"

It then cuts to the mother of slain Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who says, "The next time you use words like these, think about what they really mean." (Shepard died October 12, 1998, of wounds from a gay bashing after a short coma.)

Pictures of Matthew are then shown, with the words "Murdered because he was gay." And then "End hate."

The spot ends with his mother Judy crying with a whisper, "There better not be a next time."

This ad, though created in 1999, got wider viewing in 2001 when MTV and the Grammy Awards came under fire for aggrandizing homophobic rap artist Eminem. The networks aired the commercial as an offer of balance to gay activists.

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Andy , St. Paul, Minn.
I think you should change the last sentence to read "The networks aired the commercial as IF TO offer a balance to gay activists." MTV can offer all the lip service they want but it's all empty when you consider how heavily they promote Eminem, and how gay people are presented on their "Real World" series more as a shock factor.

Adam , Brooklyn, NY
I feel that this is a very powerful and provocative PSA. On the other hand, I understand its rating of negative when taken into context. While adding "balance" to Eminem, I feel it more that MTV was trying to avoid blame (aka "neutrality amongst 'art' ") for Eminem's actions/words/views. This may, in and of itself, be further proven by other carefully placed PSAs whenever there might be something anti-gay afoot (although, I have to admit, their PSAs ARE pretty good, if seen on their own and not considering that they're being used for means other than they should be).

Rees Bennett , San Diego, Calif.
In all fairness, MTV has no legal obligation to censor anyone and is doing its job by providing artists (regardless of personal beliefs) a place to exhibit their art. MTV chooses to balance their programming with provocative artists, views and subject matter and PSAs. As a Board Director for GLSEN San Diego County, I applaud MTVs equity (or attempt at) with their current anti-discrimination programming.

Simon , Chicago
I understand the purpose, but saying words like "faggot," "queer" and "homo" on TV doesn't seem like a good idea. This ad makes me extremely uncomfortable. Homophobia has to be shown in a more creative way.

Max Shultz , Antioch, CA
I remember seeing this comercial on MTV. "Next time you say things like 'Faggot', think about what it really meaans." When Matthew Sheperd was killed, many kids in my school said they thought it was funny. There was even a Baptist priest who tried to stop Matthew's funeral, because he bluntly stated "God hates fags. So they don't desrve funerals." Homophobes know exactly what the epithets and slurs "really mean". That's why this commercial is stupid. I think MTV's secret message behind this commercial was saying "you know what the epithets mean. Good for you that you hate fags. Actions speak louder than words, so assault the Faggots." I sympathesize with Judy Sheperd. I believe she sincerely did not know how bad this commercial is. MTV or empTV as it should be called, is constantly supporting the cliche "Lesbians are hot, Gay men are not" with it's images of ultrafemme women groping echother to arouse straight men. Love between men is just as beautiful, and certainly not inferior to straight and lesbian love. I would have respect for MTV, and teenybopper culture if they could understand this.

Walter , Winnipeg, Canada
I know we have to face the reality even if it's bad or sad. But in this case the "media" really don't care when they promote violence on TV. This ad is another game to keep audience....

Lindsey , Sacramento, CA
As a heterosexual, nontransgender youth who watches MTV, I can say that this ad would NOT have a strong impact on my hetero, nontrans peers. Here's a couple reasons why: 1) Many teens who make such comments do not believe that those derogetory words or phrases will contribute to violence against LGBT people. 2) Some of the teens who use those degrading words and phrases do not even connect the words to LGBT individuals. They use the terms as synonyms for "wierd," and insist they don't dislike gay people, and aren't refering to them.

Of course these reasons are irrational and immature, but this applies only to certain youth.

Youth today are more accepting of LGBT people than previous generations, due to awareness and exposure(People in their lives are are coming out) and recognition by legal system (Lawrence vs. Texas, etc).

Oh, and as far as MTV:
I take the gay people on "The Real World" with a grain of salt. My friends who are gay, bi, les, etc. show me diversity among individuals, and I definately don't find anything shocking about two guys or two ladies hooking up.

However, MTV's "Real Life: I'm gay, and I'm getting married" or "I'm Coming Out" are interesting and educational, and WILL affect hetero, nontrans and LGBT youth alike. Just seems very straightforward and noncondescending.

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