Twitter, whilst controversial, is a wonderful place for people to share their opinions regarding TV and movies. What many of us call “Gay Twitter” has become a hub for the discussion of our community in the media. It is a place where we feel safe enough to speak up about the way the media represents who we are, what we do, how we love, how we dress and how we express ourselves. It is an open platform that allows even those in the closet to express their feelings regarding something so very important to us.
There are some who tend to believe that in the last few years the representation of LGBTQ+ people in media has improved, and we should not be complaining about it. They are right when they say that many more gay characters are being seen, but how good are they really? A lot of these characters end up being killed, over-stereotyped, utilized for the famous queerbaiting and –particularly the lesbian characters – hypersexualized. Yes, there are really good shows like Orange is the New Black that allow LGBTQ+ characters to shine, but the reality is that not many shows or movies do that. Think about Blue is the Warmest Color, and the hypersexualization of the lesbian relationship to the point that the sex scenes look like they are taken straight out of a porn site. The reality is that for LGBTQ+ people it is very hard to relate to characters and feel like we are being represented under a favorable light.
For this reason, it is no surprise that as soon as we see someone who slightly resembles us, we jump at the chance to watch said TV show or movie. We wish and hope that they will be the ONE character who is actually written right – like Elena Alvarez from One Day at a Time – to, sadly, end up disappointed most of the times. So, when Renault released the commercial featuring two lesbian women as the protagonists, it came as a surprise, but a pleasant one to “Gay Twitter”.
The commercial follows a redheaded girl throughout her life, showing how she discovers her sexuality. When she’s little (probably eight or nine years old) she goes away in which we assume is a summer exchange and meets another girl who ends up becoming her best friend. As they grow older the girls stay in each other’s lives, visiting their hometowns and creating more memories together. Then one day it happens: they kiss and realize the feelings had always been there. The redhead’s dad finds a letter from the other girl and we see him yelling at her to the point she is crying. We assume this is the way in which she has come out to her family, and her father is not taking it well. Later on, we see her attend her friend’s wedding, and both of them are visibly sad. The friend leaves her husband and runs back to her childhood sweetheart, and they get their happy ending in the form of a little girl of their own and family lunches at the redhead’s house with a father who we can see has accepted his daughter’s sexuality. All of this happens as the cars change and evolve and the song Wonderwall is playing in the background in a version sang by a woman – probably to emphasize the love story that we are seeing develop throughout the years.
So, why is this such a big deal? We see love stories in commercials all the time, but it is very rarely that brands take the leap of faith and portray gay couples as their main focus. Yes, when they do it they mostly do it to appeal to our community in a way that will make us buy their products. The sad part is that our representation is so low and mostly bad that we end up loving this two minutes and ten seconds of commercial that makes us feel seen and accepted. It is a big deal because not a lot of media producers give us the space and the worth that we deserve. Not a lot of TV shows or movies want to speak for us, to represent us how we are, to show us under a positive light, or to put us on screen without queerbaiting us.
This Renault commercial shows lesbians under a good and not hypersexualized light. We see a real, deep connection between the two girls and it is never shown for the pleasure of the male gaze like in so many movies or shows. They do not fall for the typical storyline of one of them cheating on her husband (as in Imagine Me & You). They show the struggle of dealing with your sexuality, of having to tell your parents, of having to follow the norm even though it is not what you want. With this, they have given the community some sort of hope: hope in believing that in the end you will always be free to be yourself, hope in knowing that one day you too can get your happy ending – your sexuality should not stop you from achieving it.
As this decade comes to a close, we can hope the next is filled with more and better LGBTQ+ representation, in more and better TV shows and movies centering our lives. And maybe even more and better commercials like the one Renault put out. We need the media to portray us in a light that says we exist, we are good, we are valid, and we are worthy.