This commercial ran during the Super Bowl. Bridgestone has had a presence in gay media since 2001, lead by openly gay director of advertising Michael Fluck.
Fluck defends the commercial with the following: A.) Richard Simmons is not an openly gay man. B.) Simmons knew what the commercial was about and had no objections. C.) Simmons was not actually run over.
We feel that Simmons need not be openly gay (neither was famously flamboyant Liberace, or Elton John or Boy George early in their careers) or even gay at all. Simmons represents a sissy -- someone who doesn't live up to society's gender expectations, regardless of sexuality -- and the ad implies that violence against him or any other sissy is acceptable and funny. Inexplicably, Simmons has cultivated a personality that encourages negativity toward him, and has even starred in another commercial from Canada in 2001 for Simmons Mattresses where violence is committed against him. Thus, his awareness of his being the butt of violent humor does not necessarily make it acceptable.
While we applaud the inclusion of openly gay or otherwise flamboyant persons in commercials, this commercial would have been better rated simply by having the driver avoid him just as he did the deer and rocker Alice Cooper.