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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: What’s up with this apparently but nonsensically homophobic DVD cover?

Is it me, or is there something a little hinky in the difference between these two DVD covers for the same movie?


On the left is the Region 2 DVD cover art for Make the Yuletide Gay. On the right is the Region 1 DVD cover art for the same film.

I didn’t find anything offputting about the gingerbread-man cover until I saw the other one, and then I wondered whether there wasn’t a bit of homophobia at work, as if someone feared to offer up two men in a romantic pose. (The movie is about a gay couple masquerading as straight friends during a Christmas with the parents of one of them.)

Now, actually, I don’t think the homophobia explanation makes sense: This title was never going to be showing up on the shelves of Wal-Mart where it might scare the locals, and it should in fact be designed to appeal to gays and gay-friendlies on sites like Amazon, where the DVD cover is the first thing you notice. But I can’t figure out what other explanation there could be.

What’s up with this apparently but nonsensically homophobic DVD cover?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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  • amanohyo

    Ummm…turn the image on the right upside down. It’s no Joe Camel, but I’m pretty sure it’s intentional. I don’t really see any homophobia at work. After all, everyone knows that those are two gingerbread men touching uh…. hands.

  • Rob

    Thanks for noticing the two different covers, but rest assured, there was no homophobia involved (I should know, I’m the director). If you’ve seen the movie, you know that “Make The Yuletide Gay” is a family Christmas film first, and a gay film second. The decision was made to emphasize the Christmas aspect in the North American DVD artwork, because that’s what the movie is about. Other territories use the picture of the two men because they believe it will be easier to sell to gay audiences. However, in the United States, people have embraced the gingerbread men cover and understand that it truly represents the wholesome nature of the film and its overall holiday feel. It’s unfortunate that the DVD artwork could be labeled “homophobic” simply because it does not rely on the promise of sex and nudity to get its message across. I would hope that people watch the movie and appreciate it for what it is and for the message it sends out about family love and acceptance.

  • amanohyo

    Rob, thanks for taking the time to explain the decision, but about those gingerbread “arms”…. surely you all knew? Or is it just a phallus alarm?

  • Isobel

    I didn’t see anything homophobic as such, it’s not like the name of the film was changed and the quote in the middle of the Region 1 cover makes it pretty clear that it’s a gay film.

    @ Amanohoyo – my keyboard at work nearly got doused in coffee thanks to you – I snorted quite loudly, too :)

  • Accounting Ninja

    @Rob, I don’t think the two-men cover offers up the “promise of sex and nudity”. It’s just 2 men making goo-goo eyes. It could be a mushy, cheesy romance for all we know.
    And, it’s kind of weird to make “gay” mutually exclusive of “wholesome”. There was nothing racy or sexual about the left cover, because if I imagine it as a man and woman, it wouldn’t be racy either, just romantic fluff.
    For the record, I think the gingerbread man cover is cute. I like it better because the one on the left sort of says “cheesy romance” to me, regardless of the genders of the couple. I am allergic to those movies. :) I would be more likely to watch the one on the right. It does seem a bit sanitizing, but the name of the movie is pretty explanatory, as well as the image.

  • Mimi

    Issues of homophobia aside, unless the two actors pictured were known to me (which they’re not), I would be more likely to pick up the DVD on the right. The left cover looks like, meh, two faces, standard boring rom-com, starring people I’ve never heard of, set at Christmas, whee. The right cover is more intriguing.

  • LaSargenta

    Oh, amanohyo, I LOVE a pun!

  • RyanT

    @Rob, I saw the movie last week. It was wonderful! Thank you for making such a good gay holiday film. I laughed way too much and it was far more heartwarming than I thought it would be.

    As for the DVD covers, I actually like the gingerbread-man version more than the two guys staring at each other version. Maybe it’s just because I have seen my share of gay movies, so I’ve seen many variations of the two guys on the cover. So I like that they thought outside the box with the gingerbread-man version. It’s whimsical and holiday-oriented and very much fits into the tone of the movie.

  • I’m not being nasty but

    Is RyanT a regular poster? Because that last comment just doesn’t ring true, somehow.

  • strictly from an artistic and advertising point of view, i have to say the right hand cover with the gingerbread men is far more effective at catching the eye — maybe it’s my over-educated eastern liberal left brain at work, but the left-side cover is kind of … boring, actually.

  • RyanT

    I’m sure MaryAnn can vouch my email/IP… I’ve been commenting on this website for awhile.

    But I’m curious what about my comment didn’t ring true for you? Was it me gushing to the director about how much I liked the film? I supposed I could have toned it down a bit, but it’s a rare opportunity for me to actually have a chance to talk to a filmmaker let. So to see that the director is reading MaryAnn’s blog, I just got a bit too excited.

    If it was my DVD cover comment, I don’t know how that would ring false for you. I have seen many gay movies and I DO like the gingerbread-men version because it’s different from the rest. So…

  • Brian

    From a pure design standpoint, the cover on the right is much stronger. It shows a clearer, cleaner, cleverer graphic and layout, and conveys more useful information about the tone and style of the film.

  • Alli

    I agree with bronxbee and Brian on this. The graphic on the gingerbread cover is much cleverer and more appealing visually. I’m not saying two gay men looking at each other is “icky.” I just mean if you put both of these covers next to each other, were told both were holiday films involving gay characters, and you had to pick which one to watch based completely on the DVD cover, most would choose the one on the right.

  • bats :[

    I’m so clueless, I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for. I agree with with Accounting Ninja — I think the gingerbread men cover is more appealing, and indicative of a “romantic comedy” that I’d be willing to watch. The guys in the photo don’t even appear to be looking at one another; was it PhotoShopped after the movie was made, from errant stills?

  • Hank Graham

    Gee, this is as dumb as removing the black couple from the UK poster of “Couples Retreat.”

  • wooster182

    For one, the gingerbread men are adorable. And it’s definitely more artistically eye-grabbing than the two men.

    Also, some people might look at the left one and assume it’s porn while the other one looks like it probably has a plot.

  • Ken

    I’m in agreement with most that weighed in here on cover preference. Much better design with the gingerbread men.

  • CB

    I’m still confused. Forget which is more effective, I want to know which came first and why one was chosen for the other.

    I mean it’s hard not to take “emphasize the Christmas aspect in North America” as implying “downplay the gay aspect in North America” due to North American sensibilities. Why does Christmas have to be emphasized, and more importantly why does it have to be emphasized here? Is it assumed that American audiences will see a movie about gays as being “gay first” automatically, so there’s a need to fight against that perception?

    Or if it was the opposite, and the two-guys cover was created to make it an easier sell for gay audiences in other territories, then why is that? Would gay audiences in Europe worry that the movie wasn’t going to be gay enough if they couldn’t see an obviously gay couple on the cover?

    Or could it be because the “gay” pun only works in English speaking countries, so they’d have no idea that it was at all gay based solely on the translated title?

    “Nonsensical” still describes my feelings pretty well, but I am just confused. And if I may head off on a nonsensical aside, I remember the “not gay enough” idea being portrayed hilariously in a Kids in the Hall skit, where they went to see a gay sequel to Grumpy Old Men (hilarious enough in itself) and complained about being ripped off when the female lead spent half the movie topless, but the only action between the guys was a single kiss at the end hidden behind a closing garage door.

  • Paul

    Don’t worry, Ryan. Everyone goes fanboy from time to time. But on a website with such a high % of snark (don’t get me wrong, it’s one of the reasons I keep coming back) it might come across as advertising.

    And now that you mention it, those two guys don’t look like they are looking at each other, do they?

  • MBI

    This may be just me, but the cover on the right is far more suggestively homosexual than the tame, tepid cover on the left. I mean, look at those gingerbread men. What are they smiling about? Probably all the gay sex they’re about to have! The two guys on the left are not thinking about sex in the least little bit, nor have they ever.

    Plus, the cover on the right still has the word GAY in big letters on it.

  • Jessica

    I’m still stuck on why a picture of two guys smiling vaguely at each other would make anyone think “porn” rather than “romantic comedy.” What kind of boring porn are people watching these days?

    It’s unfortunate that the DVD artwork could be labeled “homophobic” simply because it does not rely on the promise of sex and nudity to get its message across.

    However, while I don’t find the art switch insulting or homophobic (puzzling, yes), I do find the implication that “gay = sex” more than a little so. No matter who’s phrasing it like that, or what I hope they actually meant.

    But, generally, ITA with CB’s comment.

  • JoshB

    I’m still stuck on why a picture of two guys smiling vaguely at each other would make anyone think “porn” rather than “romantic comedy.”

    The guy on the left appears to be pulling the guy on the right to him with a belt thrown behind his neck. Not porn perhaps, but still suggestive.

  • Markyd

    I’m still stuck on why a picture of two guys smiling vaguely at each other would make anyone think “porn” rather than “romantic comedy.”

    The guy on the left appears to be pulling the guy on the right to him with a belt thrown behind his neck. Not porn perhaps, but still suggestive.

    It could also be because two men couldn’t possibly have a romantic relationship. It’s just sex day and night.

  • wooster182

    It could also be because two men couldn’t possibly have a romantic relationship. It’s just sex day and night.
    ———————-

    As it should be!

    Seriously, though, I thought it looked more like porn because of the title of the film coupled with the picture. Had the title said something less suggestive, I probably wouldn’t have thought that.

    I don’t naturally assume that Brokeback, Lonely Hearts Club, or Urbania was porn–all excellent films.

  • Ken

    I’m still stuck on why a picture of two guys smiling vaguely at each other would make anyone think “porn” rather than “romantic comedy.”

    While I wouldn’t say that the left one screams “porn,” the design is reminiscent of typical straight-to-DVD movies you might see in a store, which, perhaps unfairly, makes me think “poorly made movie.” The gingerbread design is much cleaner (if one forgives the lack of hanging punctuation, and that the dropshadow on the left gingerbread man makes the title look off-center).

  • Jessica

    Yeah, see, that’s what I get out of it. “Direct-to-video,” view at your own risk. Not porn, though. Maybe my porn standards are just higher.

    Honestly, though, neither cover grabs me, and the review at AfterElton wasn’t enthusiastic, so I’ll most likely be skipping this one.

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