Calvin Klein is fielding complaints after it featured a straight model and a gay-themed campaign ad.
The recently released ad, which notably came out weeks before Pride Month, shows model Bella Hadid. In the ad, Hadid is seen kissing a robot called Miquela, which has its own Instagram page. The 30-second video contains the simple line, “Life is about opening doors. Creating new dreams you never knew could exist.”
The ad quickly received criticism for featuring Hadid, who identifies as heterosexual, in a “same-sex kiss.” At first, this would seem to be the ongoing conversation of not casting gay talent for gay-themed roles.
That said, there’s also the added layer of having the same-sex kiss be between a woman and a CGI-inserted robot. Then, the ad also layers on the message of “opening new doors.” That then muddies the concept of freedom of sexual expression and gay visibility with a convoluted “futuristic edge.” But does that equal queerbait?
Of course, Twitter users think so and expressed displeasure with the ad This includes Madison Malone Kircher, an associate editor of the New York Magazine. Plus, Dazed Digital wrote a piece against the video.
I know it's not even 9:30 a.m. but I just watched Bella make out with Lil Miquela for part of the new Calvin Klein campaign and I think I need to log off for the rest of the day. pic.twitter.com/5mTr4iEmft
— Alyssa Vingan Klein (@alyssavingan) May 16, 2019
— 𝒜𝓃𝑔𝑒𝓁 𝒷𝒾𝓉𝒸𝒽 (@ItGirlFlair) May 17, 2019
CALVIN KLEIN RLY USED A ROBOT TO QUEER BAIT I–
— raisa🌈 (@jauremeralds) May 16, 2019
who is gonna tell Calvin Klein you're supposed to wait until June for your tone-deaf queer-bait ad campaigns!! lil miquela and bella hadid out here smooching two weeks too early!!!
— Madison Malone Kircher (@4evrmalone) May 16, 2019
Isn’t she one of the heteroes like .. besides the fact that it’s her and a computer drawn girl like… I could b wrong but isn’t bella a full straighty
— sophisticated (@friend_of_a) May 17, 2019
"Life is about" what? This is a total queer bait …
Bella Hadid kisses Lil Miquela in new Calvin Klein commercial … https://t.co/FYbQMvoPwY
— Ottavio (@OttavioGM) May 17, 2019
Queering mmmhhhh robotiscism?
— Maybi (@Selenasdevotee) May 17, 2019
Then on Friday, Calvin Klein released an official statement through twitter acknowledging that its ad could be interpreted as queerbaiting.
“As a company with a longstanding tradition of advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, it was certainly not our intention to misrepresent the LGBTQ+ community. We sincerely regret any offense we caused,” the statement said
Here at CALVIN KLEIN, we welcome all types of constructive feedback from our community. We see your comments and we appreciate them. We'd like to offer our thoughts in response to comments on our campaign video featuring Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela. pic.twitter.com/OIcIekyR9K
— CALVIN KLEIN (@CalvinKlein) May 17, 2019
It’s important to note that the Calvin Klein company is fairly LGBTQ-supportive. The company was even founded by a gay man. That said, even LGBTQ-supportive companies can slip up at times.
But was this a legitimate slip-up or Twitter users being overly sensitive? What do you think? Queerbait or no queerbait? Let us know down in the comments below.