Free Sample Kicks Off Philosophical Journey
On Friday, my wife received a free sample of the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in the mail. We’ve had them before and I have had a few impressive cleanings with them and didn’t contemplate things too deeply. That is until my 7-year-old woke up Saturday morning with his probing questions when I barely had a coffee in me.
Alright, that’s pretty sharp. Why *is* this guy shining his earring until it sparkles with this magic cleaner? Why is he even wearing an earring? Is he a Genie? What does it all mean?
Is Mr. Clean Gay?
If you Google, “is mr clean gay” you end up with this Quora link from 2014 that says:
Mr. Clean is neither gay, straight nor bi, he is asexual because sex of any kind is just too dirty for him.
Asexual makes sense to me because the guy is frigging imaginary, he doesn’t actually exist.
But that just makes things a little bit too easy, orientation questions like this can’t always be put in nice and tidy packages.
I learned this recently as I took a diversity survey at work last week. When the question of sexual orientation came up, I was surprised to see the options filled my entire screen. Packaging people into 3 or 4 categories doesn’t tell the whole story. And even calling Mr. Clean asexual, causes asexual people rage as Mikayla writes:
When representation and understanding of asexuality is so rare, things like this matter. It may seem like a silly joke, but it’s severely misrepresenting asexuality to the detriment of asexual people and our community. Representation is important, but poor representation can be more damaging than no representation at all.
So I think it’s safe to say at this point, even though this Quora answer has 14.4k views, 41 people upvoted it and Google provides it as the Instant Answer to the question – it’s all wrong! And labeling Mr. Clean gay because he has an earring, wears tight shirts and likes to clean – also wrong!
Diversity is yelling at us to clean up sexual orientation stereotyping.
New Mr. Clean Commercial
Alright, things got a bit heavy there. Time to switch gears a bit. Speaking of switching gears, it seems Mr. Clean has just moved from asexual to sex symbol in this 2017 Super Bowl commercial. Pretty funny stuff.
So as a guy talking about stereotypes – I’ll admit it, I can be messy and don’t like to clean. Now is that the same for all guys? Well not for the guy in this ad. I mean the real one, not the dreamy one.
I’ve been known to wipe a stovetop, clean a shower and mop a floor. Ok, well maybe not lately, but thank you to Mr. Clean for reminding us just how much this is appreciated.
Come on guys, let`s do what we can to clean up gender stereotyping.
Black Mr. Clean
In 1957, Harry Barnhart conceived the Mr. Clean character and Ernie Allen drew him as a muscular bald man who cleans things very well. 60 years later, Mr. Clean is now buff, bald and black! Mike Jackson from Atlanta is the winner of #TheNextMrClean contest. In addition to receiving $20,000 and a year’s supply of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, Jackson earned a trip to New York City to shoot a 2017 limited edition Mr. Clean calendar. I thought this was a great story, but believe we still have a long way to go on racial stereotyping.
Cleaning Up Stereotypes One Campaign at a Time
Now when you go to clean something, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser may not be able to remove all the bad stuff, some might remain, but at least you end up better than where you started.
Same goes with Mr. Clean marketing. It might not magically erase stereotyping people based on their sexual orientation, gender or race – but at least we are getting to a better place than where we started.