An Instagram-famous model kissing a digital robot might sound like a weird parody of the future, but it’s actually part of Calvin Klein’s recent advertising campaign – and the fashion house has found itself in hot water with accusations of ‘queerbaiting’.
In the new video, Bella Hadid is seen kissing robot Lil Miquela, with the caption: “Is this a dream or real?”
However, the spot has been criticised of queerbaiting.
The Calvin Klein ads were amazing until Bella hadid queer bated— LYS ϟ (@a0a120) May 17, 2019
who is gonna tell Calvin Klein you're supposed to wait until June for your tone-deaf queer-bait ad campaigns!! lil miquela and bella hadid out here smooching two weeks too early!!!— Madison Malone Kircher (@4evrmalone) May 16, 2019
CALVIN KLEIN RLY USED A ROBOT TO QUEER BAIT I–— raisa🌈 (@jauremeralds) May 16, 2019
Pink News describe queerbaiting as: “The practice of faking a same-sex romance or attraction in a bid to attract an LGBT+ fan base”.
In this instance, people think Calvin Klein has chosen two ostensibly heterosexual women to play at queerness in an attempt to ‘bait’ the LGBTQ+ community.
In fact, many think it would have been a much better representation of the LGBTQ+ community to feature a kiss from a couple who are actually queer.
a corporate brand will show lil miquela and bella hadid making out but not an actual gay couple https://t.co/qonqi099nZ— lily 🌱 (@hemsflower) May 16, 2019
Queerbaiting is increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation – most recently, singer Ariana Grande was accused of queerbaiting with her song Monolopy where she sings: “I like women and men.”
While some people praised Grande for showing that sexuality is fluid, others accused her of fetishising bisexuality. The singer has never confirmed her sexuality officially but did reply to a fan on Twitter saying she hasn’t “labelled” herself and doesn’t feel the need to.
dear ariana grande,
perpetuating stereotypes about bi people and queerbaiting on top of that doesn’t make you a good ally. you’re STILL making bisexuality look like a “concept” and portraying wlw in a song that sounds like it’s about cheating does not help us at all.— have you jisunged today? (@kiIlkoo) February 8, 2019
people are really out there accusing ariana grande of queerbaiting just cos she doesn’t want to define her sexuality... how bout you let her live her life, she can choose to identify (or not) however she likes— LILY (@lilydft) April 2, 2019
After Calvin Klein found itself at the centre of a queerbaiting debate, the brand issued a statement of response.
Here at CALVIN KLEIN, we welcome all types of constructive feedback from our community. We see your comments and we appreciate them. We'd like to offer our thoughts in response to comments on our campaign video featuring Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela. pic.twitter.com/OIcIekyR9K— CALVIN KLEIN (@CalvinKlein) May 17, 2019
It says: “We understand how featuring someone who identifies as heterosexual in a same-sex kiss could be perceived as queerbaiting. As a company with a long-standing tradition of advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, it was certainly not our intention to misrepresent the LGBTQ+ community.”
Even though Calvin Klein might have made a misstep with Hadid and Miquela’s kiss, it must be said that the wider campaign represents a broad spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community – other videos feature transgender, non-binary model and actor Indya Moore as well as gay singer Troye Sivan.
- Press Association