It was 1 a.m., and I was sipping from the ever-full pitcher of That ’70s Show, but then a commercial came on that by some bit of late-night laziness I didn’t mute:
“Scott, I want you to do something.”
“Not doing that again. Got burned.”
What!? My cultural gaydar — infinitely more accurate than my personal one, and we won’t go there — started the beat beat beat of its tom-tom. Then as I watched, my socks, which were still on, got knocked off, and you will see why when you click on the ad above. Here’s the spot’s soft-porn dialogue (which I painstakingly copied, but then found already typed on the Seattle food blog The C Is for Cocina, one of two that also picked this up):
Toaster: Scott, I want you to do something.
Scott: Not doing that again. Got burned.
Toaster: We both enjoyed that. Now I want you to introduce my greatest creation: the new Toasty Torpedo.
Scott: The new Toasty Torpedo?
Toaster: Yes, Scott. You make one.
Toaster: Put it in me, Scott. It’s over a foot of flavor on a slim, sleek ciabatta for only four dollars. Say it, Scott.
Scott: Only four dollars?
Toaster: Say it sexy.
Scott: Only four dollars.
Scott (sexy voice): Only four dollars.
Put it in me, Scott?
My oh my. Beam me up, Scottie!
Nitro Group’s Quiznos ads are often what was once called “edgy”; you may remember the lady who devoured the $5 bill. Here, though, we’ve crossed a more significant line. The oven’s Hal voice takes the neurotic, ultimately evil homo vibe between that pre-Stonewall male mainframe and cosmic trade Keir Dullea and inverts it to effective popcult humor without a shred of nasty effeminizing or butch Superbowl payback.
Of course, queer progress is hard to come by, or even measure. Just yesterday, the governor of Vermont said that he would veto any gay-marriage bill brought to his desk — let’s hope the lame duck is overridden. Yet some of the most optimistic evidence that bigotry is going down can be found not in the courts or even on the streets, but in the common language of commerce.
Now, should I do my duty and buy a Torpedo sub? It’s only four bucks, which is less than two new New York subway fares (if that obscene increase goes through).
Let me see who’s selling them….