Saturday, February 8, 2020

Is there a homophobic undertone to Joe Biden's attack on Pete Buttigieg?

Now that Pete Buttigieg has been victorious (yes, victorious) over fourth-place Joe Biden in Iowa, and New Hampshire polls show Buttigieg continuing to gain momentum heading into the first primary, Biden has released an attack ad that paints Buttigieg as a mayor with misplaced priorities.

Biden's ad says Buttigieg "installed decorative lights under bridges" to create "colorfully illuminated rivers," and he "la[id] out decorative brick" on sidewalks.

So Biden is repeatedly trying to associate the word "decorative" with Buttigieg, the first openly gay candidate with a serious chance at becoming president.

The repetition of that word — "decorative" — could not have been an accident.

One of the oldest stereotypes about gay men is that they're interested in interior decorating.

Yes, I know: someone's going to say I'm reading too much into it, oversensitive, etc. I know that response.

I also know that political attack ads are designed to operate on a subtle and sometimes subliminal level.

One more thing. There are jarring shifts in the music as the announcer juxtaposes Biden and Buttigieg. As usual for a political ad, we hear dramatic, soaring music that sounds like it's from a movie soundtrack when the ad tells us about the great things Biden did. And that's fine. What's more interesting to me is that when the announcer switches to mocking Buttigieg, the music slows down and sounds a lot like the very beginning of one of the most famous pieces of classical music, from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, called "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."


Tom Healy said...

You are not reading too much into it. I’m shocked by the homophobic dog whistle. Thanks for calling it out. If a Republican had said this about Mayor Pete, everyone would be screaming. It’s not acceptable from anyone.

Anonymous said...

Clearly a dog whistle from the Biden camp, but the mainstream media is afraid to call Biden to account. Meanwhile the right is now pushing the meme that Pete is too robotic, with the National Review adding the homophobic dog whistle headline "Creepy Pete" to their story. Wise of Buttigieg to ignore this nonsense as playing the victim won't work, as we saw when Warren's camp leaking the "unelectable" story which had the reverse effect of engendering sympathy (and votes) for Sanders. Stay on message and sell a vision rather than getting distracted by nonsense, no matter how ugly the nonsense.

LA_Bob said...

Since I am quite a straight, newly-minted-senior white male with a tin ear for homophobic "dog whistles", I missed the implications of the Biden ad (other than the obvious attack on Mayor Pete's inexperience).

But, when I heard the "decorative brick" comment, I thought immediately of the crosswalks in the South Park section of downtown Los Angeles, which were some years ago redone with "decorative brick".

My first thought was not, "What a gay idea." It was, "What a waste of money!"