(EDITOR'S NOTE: Within hundreds of feet of , and schools are billboards that include an image of two seemingly nude guys in a near kiss; advertising for pot shops; and a suggestive picture of a woman in a thong, bent over, doing a poll dance. Here's a story from Kelly Cole, co-president of Valley View, who did something about it. Activists in the Cahuenga Pass area and Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council were also involved.)
I never thought this would be me: A liberal feminist complaining about a sex-positive, homosexual billboard. Like that would ever happen.
Well, it has and here it is. Because I’m also a single mom complaining about her child’s premature loss of innocence, caused by driving past this billboard every day on the way to elementary school. Twice a day, since the image is on both sides of the billboard on Cahuenga, the only way to get to and from school for many families.
You try explaining the “Zero feet away MANHUNT MOBILE” phone application to your 9-year-old son. A 9-year-old who loves Army guys, and so noticed the dog tags right away.
It’s not the blatant porn-iness of the over-lit image, or that it is of two men. It would be equally annoying if it were hetero. It’s the fact that I am forced to figure out a way to frame to my fourth-grader the fact that some people like to find causal sex partners fast using their mobile phones.
I know some would tell me to use the opportunity for an illuminating conversation. But I don’t need Manhunt Mobile to set my Important Talks Agenda. Our family really could have gone awhile longer without that particular conversation—and should’ve been able to do so.
I know I could have lied to my son, which I don’t typically condone, but honestly I couldn’t come up with a suitable story fast enough to fit that image and service. Still can’t. I know I should have a thicker skin, after a whole adult life in urban centers, and a career in media. I know I risk annoying some of my gay friends by drawing attention to it. I know I jeopardize my PC cred by letting the ad get under my skin.
But as I wrote to the executives who own and run the billboard company, Lamar Advertising:
“No matter what one's politics, religious beliefs, or moral compass says about this, does it not seem obvious that this ad is inappropriately placed when it becomes forced viewing for hundreds of children daily?”
Driving to school this morning, and TWO MORE billboards of the same ad have now gone up, all within approximately a mile of each other, of Valley View and South Weddington Park. So kids going to and from school on the West Cahuenga corridor now see that ad six times a day, five days a week. Thirty impressions per school week.
Two of the three Man Hunt Mobile billboards we see on our drive to school came down on Monday. Why, exactly, is not apparent, since my emails to three staff members of Councilman LaBonge, and three executives at Lamar, and my follow-up emails, were never acknowledged. My neighbor, a long-time resident and realtor, spoke to a couple of key people connected to the Neighborhood Council and LaBonge's office about the billboards too. Whatever the reason, they're gone!
And I'm zero feet away from a lot of gratitude.
EPILOGUE: As of Wednesday morning, some of the billboards are coming down. Kelly isn't sure it has anything to do with what she complained about, or the phone calls to Lamar in New Orleans, or the activists she was in touch with, but they are down for now. There's a bigger issue about the proliferation of billboards in the area, and also the content on it, but for now this issue showed that a mom's concern created some action.
What do you think? Answer in the poll!
Here's a follow-up: