French Soft Drink Promises to Change Your Sexual Orientation

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Christian fundamentalists like to believe that homosexuality is an illness that can — and should — be cured. The factual belief is contradicted by a solid scientific consensus, and the value judgement is widely considered to be a repressive holdover from the Bronze Age.

The makers of the French orange-based soft drink Orangina seem to agree with the fundies’ unscientific belief that homosexuality can be induced post-natally in a fully formed individual. They, however, are certainly not homophobes. On the contrary, in a recent major ad campaign they invite consumers to use Orangina to “Wake the Fruit Inside!”. They go on to emphasise how gay the drink can make you regardless of geography: “Orangina’s original recipe is a well-guarded secret that offers joie de vivre to people around the world”.

I’ve had lots of Orangina over the years and I still don’t feel any stirrings of my inner fruit. This may be a case of fraudulent marketing. Or they may just have hired a really bad copywriter.

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21 thoughts on “French Soft Drink Promises to Change Your Sexual Orientation

  1. Do you really think the best way to highlight the problem of the routine and abusive treatment of gays is to label them as “fruits”?


  2. I agree with IanW. This sort of homophobic ‘humor’ is tasteless, offensive, and extremely hurtful. Even if no offense was intended, and you ‘merely’ failed to think of homosexuals as actual persons rather than as objects for your amusement, ‘jokes’ like this, which endorse the idea that homosexuality is worthy of mockery, contribute to the societal oppression and marginalization of homosexuals.

    It is especially disgusting that this was posted (and front-paged!) on ScienceBlogs, which, by and large, has at least tried to support a gay-friendly culture – an effort which your ‘joke’ has, depending on your response, perhaps permanently damaged. A retraction and an apology is the least you could do.


  3. I beg to differ. Wikipedia informs us that the term and its variants are “[u]sually used as pejoratives,” but “have also been re-appropriated as insider terms of endearment within LGBT communities.”
    IanW’s seems to me the kind of grumpy criticism that normally emanates from outside the gay community. Besides, Martin did not write the advertising copy, did he?


  4. mad the swine, I know you’re Poe-ing, but I’m not sure about IanW. Let me just assure Martin that here’s one lesbian who thought the post was funny and not offensive.


  5. The things straight men find humorous… *shakes head* Besides, the equation of “fruit” with being gay doesn’t really work for women now, does it? I’m disappointed. I thought some edgy French soda make really was advertising for fun and international public attention that they could change your sexual orientation with one sip of their drink only to find a crass reading of the word “fruit”.


  6. Ummm… I don’t know about Orangina, but haven’t we all learned from Cinemax that tequila shots make co-eds situationally bi?


  7. Hedgehog, ALL co-eds are situationally bi, don’t you know anything? 🙂

    Maybe it’s cause I’m American and am less sensitive, but I went to a gun show when I was a kid that had bumper stickers saying “The Miracle of AIDS, it turns fruits into vegetables.” Now THAT shit is offensive, and it’s not for some dumb reason like “oh, referring to gays as fruits is so mean!” Please re-calibrate offensiveness meters to less crazy level, this is a hilarious malaprop from silly advertisers, albeit not NEARLY as funny as American “teabaggers” not getting the joke for like two straight months.


  8. Hello, gay man here.

    I can’t say I found it either offensive/tasteless OR funny. I had to read the ad twice before I figured out that the reference was to their use of “fruit”.

    And, like #5, I was hoping for an ACTUAL claim to do so. Oh well.


  9. @codero – Please go amidst the nearest group of African Americans and see how endearing you can be by calling them “niggers”. After all, isn’t that “[u]sually used as pejoratives,” but “have also been re-appropriated as insider terms of endearment within African American communities.””? Good luck with your life-style of perpetuating abuses of the past by saying “oh it’s all right. We’re all happy with it now, the hell with anyone it hurts or belittles and diminishes.


  10. “Making silly jokes” = “perpetuating abuses” now? Seriously, there are no holy cows. Everything is subject to ridicule. The moment we’re not allowed to make jokes about something, we’re entering thought police land. Yes, some jokes are extremely tasteless, like the AIDS one mentioned above, but Martin’s misreading of Orangina’s ad*? Some people need to get over themselves.

    And I feel perfectly entitled to say this, as someone who is constantly mocked by friends and acquaintances for being young and female. These two attributes put me in a category of people who are ACTUALLY discriminated against, yet I have absolutely no problem with being made fun of. I just make fun right back.

    * As I read it, Orangina’s suggesting you wake the fruit INSIDE THE BOTTLE, not yourself. This makes a lot more sense, both gramatically and actually.


  11. @IanW – This is probably hopeless, but let me point out that
    (1) you cannot become a LGBT/African-American/left-handed person by choice, therefore membership of any of these groups and embracing its linguistic conventions is out of the question for an outsider. But I certainly won’t stop them from calling each other whatever they want.
    (2) Martin’s original posting makes it abundantly clear that he is vehemently critical of religious fundamentalists who consider homosexuality an illness (at best). It is hardly his fault that some copywriter used an ambiguous turn of phrase that is worth pointing out in this connection (and good for a laugh). Language changes all the time, but it is decidedly NOT a good idea to change it by force and for ideological reasons (e.g. by burning every single copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin). I, for one, have never been a fan of Newspeak.


  12. @codero – you sound very confused, but it’s not my job to educate you. You’ll learn eventually, for better or for worse that there is a difference between trying to force someone not to use abusive terminology and a blog where the sole subject is the active use of an abusive term. Perhaps if you ruminate on your words “ambiguous turn of phrase” for a while each day you might make some progress and maybe you’ll get there eventually. Keep working on it. Meanwhile, do feel free to not only pertpetuate stereotypes and abusive terminology, but to champion it. It’s quite obvious to me now that it’s what you do best.


  13. Oh, everybody lighten up. Using the word “fruit” in a positive, wink-wink ad is NOT equivalent to using the word “nigger”. Shame on those of you who say it is.

    Dr. R, maybe the reason your inner fruit hasn’t stirred is because the European recipe for Orangina doesn’t include high fructose corn syrup…?


  14. Martin, I came to my senses as a gay man just about fifty years ago, and I think I can state authoritatively that the use of the word “fruit” to mean queer has diminished steadily and markedly since then. More than anything else, your post gives away the period when you were most affected by American popular culture.
    But you shouldn’t worry about those who weren’t amused: humor often has trouble crossing national borders.


  15. I don’t remember many gay references in the US culture I took in at age 4 and 5 in the 70s. But you’re of course right that I am not in touch with current slang except through the net and other media. Anyway, everybody knows that California is the land of fruits and nuts, and that joke is too good for the term “fruit” to ever completely lose its meaning.


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