Entertainment :: Culture

Manhunt’s Times Square Billboards of Shirtless Hunks Arouse (Ahem!) Controversy

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Monday Dec 17, 2012
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There’s a poster advertising the revival of the Broadway musical "Annie." But, to paraphrase from one of that show’s songs, the sun isn’t all that’s gonna come out tomorrow. Just above the adorable cartoon of Little Orphan Annie is a photo of a man with a bust the size of Mt. Rushmore’s presidential busts.

Gay hookup site Manhunt is back in New York’s center again with three sexy billboards in Times Square this week to advertise its new Manhunt Mobile campaign.

The hundreds of thousands of tourists and New Yorkers who pass through what is known as "the crossroads of the world" certainly noticed the rotating billboard near the southeast corner of Broadway and West 47th Street. Three steamy images show hunky dudes with developed pectorals and abdominals that scream "Look at me!" All of them are on their smartphones, presumably not to check the latest stock quotations.

Some find the ads, which will run through New Year’s Day, too X-rated for Times Square as the shirtless buff men are deemed not fit for the kiddies. In November 2011, some parents were upset with Manhunt’s risquĂ© ad in Los Angeles, which was similar to the ones that recently appeared in New York.

"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," Kelly Cole, a mother who calls herself a "liberal feminist" wrote in on Studio City Patch. "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."

The website’s Jason Harvey wrote in a blog post that the site and the advertising agency, Lamar Advertising, received a number of complaints regarding the billboard soon after it was put up. A representative for the agency said the company took measures to ensure the ad would "not within 500 feet of schools, churches, playgrounds, etc."

’Sure the guy is hot, and I’m all for exposure, especially when it’s some hot guy sans his shirt, but it’s just kinda tacky."

This isn’t the first time gay social networking site put up ads in Times Square. Last year, Manhunt put up a similar billboard in the same exact spot that reportedly was seen by more than one million people who attended New York City’s iconic New Years Eve celebration -- not to mention the tens of millions who watch the ball drop on MTV, CNN, ABC and nearly every other TV outlet.

In an example of the odd bedfellows outdoor advertising can produce, this year’s billboard, coincidentally, just happens next to be next to a billboard for the Church of Latter Day Saints, or the Mormons.

When the Huffington Post reported the story, the site asked its readers whether they felt the Manhunt ads were appropriate. As of this writing, half voted "Yes - make the yuletide gay!" Just 11.4 percent voted, "No - it’s offensive, and there are children present!" Over one-third voted "No - but it wouldn’t be appropriate if it depicted a straight couple, either."

Some gay men have criticized the ads as well. On blogsite JoeMyGod, on man wrote "Tattooed hunk or no, it is all visual pollution, getting worse with every day."

Another wrote, "I am sorry but this is really not appropriate for time square. I would be against it if it was for a str8 site too. Very Tacky. I find it tacky to have a sex hookup site on a billboard of any kind."

"nycmike" wrote, "I find this just as offensive as I would a heterosexual site which existed only for people to have one night stands. Sorry, but IMHO this is just wrong. Sure the guy is hot, and I’m all for exposure, especially when it’s some hot guy sans his shirt, but it’s just kinda tacky."

But the best comment may have been "Lotsa luck finding other gay men in the Theater District!"

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