Friday FREAK OUT! What can we learn from First Kiss video featuring strangers kissing

Earlier this week a video was posted to Youtube called First Kiss (also known as 20 Strangers Kissing). Within 24 hours, it had over 20 million views. As of this post, it’s got over 44 million.

That is basically the definition of VIRAL. It’s been called beautiful, touching, gorgeous, and strangely sweet. It’s also be described as cringy-cute and a bad first date– probably because it was soon learned that the video is actually an ad for Wren, a clothing line. (Note, it’s being described as a viral win.)

But once you get past that the video is actually an advertisement and the individuals in the video are actors (selected in part for their attractive looks) and are not representative of your average human being and that it’s incredibly staged, there ARE lessons about sexuality that can be learned:

  • Mike Domritz, on the Date Safe Project website, points out that the video demonstrates that asking for consent- something demonstrated throughout this video- doesn’t have to ruin everything, and can in fact make everything better.
  • Daniel Garza, from the Examiner, points out that the video highlights that “you are a living, breathing, sexual person with needs.”
  • Marcie Bianco, on PolicyMic, points out that the video “gives credence to the idea of sexuality as an act, or an action. There is no difference between the nerves or intimacies of the men kissing women, the men kissing men or the women kissing other women.”

As with all my Friday Freak Outs, I encourage sexuality educators to use popular media as teachable moments. This video can spark interesting discussions around consent, sexual being-ness, and inclusivity. It could also spark discussions around intimacy, hook-up culture, and the use of sexuality in advertizing.  (It can also spark parody videos, like this one that is NSFW, or this one, which IS safe for work.) The possibilities are really endless.

Looking for rainbows? Try JC Penney! Turning their ads into teachable moments

“First Pals: What makes Dad so cool? He’s the swim coach, tent maker, best friend, bike fixer and hug giver — all rolled into one. Or two.”

It is a rare occasion that I am able to really applaud the advertising efforts of a large company. However, JC Penny has made me proud in their use of same-sex couples in recent advertisements for mother’s day and father’s day. Even amid criticism and boycott for hiring gay actor Ellen DeGeneres to be their spokesperson, JC Penney has stepped up to the plate to let everyone know they have the right to freedom of expression and to love who they want.

JC Penney has also provided a fabulous teachable moment for sexuality education programs. As I have mentioned in past posts, media is a strong influence on people’s ideas about sexuality, and here we have an ad campaign that normalizes gay! Plus, interesting fact, according to Wikipedia (the most reliable source of info on the web, of course), JC Penney is based out of a small town just north of Dallas, TEXAS!

So, how can YOU use these ads as teachable moments? Here are some questions to prompt discussion:

  • Who do you see pictured here?
  • When you see these ads, what emotions come to mind?
  • What does this ad say about the meaning of family?
  • How do you think people react when they see an ad picturing same-sex couples?
  • What effect could this ad have on homophobia?

    “Creativity, oil paints, Freedom of Expression:
    You’ll often find Wendi, her partner, Maggie, and daughters elbow-deep in paint, clay or mosaics. “Even as babies, the girls toddled around in diapers, covered in paint,” said Wendi. They come from a long line of artists, which includes grandma Carolyn. Visiting her art studio in Greenbury, Texas is a favorite outing. And like any grandma, this one loves to bake – pottery, that is.”

Throughout your discussion, be sure to emphasize the message that relationships that are based on love and respect can be healthy, no matter who is in that relationship!

Lastly, JC Penney has already gotten a lot of heat because of their ads. Say thank you through this petition organized by Sum of Us and make sure they know to keep up the good work!