Geek Chic Election night dragged on for days in early November, which gave viewers of MSNBC ample opportunity to watch election analyst Steve Kornacki in action. It’s always a dazzling experience for data geeks, but it turns out the openly gay Kornacki has a much wider fan base—wide enough to land him on People magazine’s list of the “Sexiest Men of 2020.” It seems people were watching more than Kornacki’s amazing ability to reel off the latest returns down to the precinct level while accurately predicting electoral outcomes; there was much talk of his Gap khakis (“palomino brown”) and his “adorable” manner of delivery. Also noted was his preternatural ability to keep going almost nonstop for hours on end without sleep. Needless to say, what launched Kornacki to cult status was not his ratings on MSNBC but the trending of his hashtag and the buzz on social media, where his various nicknames include “Korsnacki,” “Map Daddy,” and “Chart-throb.” Despite his deadpan manner, his gayness undoubtedly comes through. But what are we to make of New York magazine’s comment that he was “the only cute thing about the election”? One could question whether a similar comment would be made about a straight commentator, though it’s hard to argue with the sentiment.
Smart Cookies The American Family Association (AFA)—speaking through its shell operation One Million Moms—has called for a boycott of Oreo cookies following the release of “Rainbow Oreos,” whose creamy filling comes in six colors to form a Pride flag. Nabisco launched the product in a TV ad depicting a daughter introducing her female partner to her parents. Of course, the boycott is merely silly—if lethal amounts of refined sugar don’t stop people from eating Oreos, rainbow colors won’t—but it points to an interesting cultural shift. Some of us can remember a time when the AFA went around ferreting out “hidden” or “subliminal” messages in various cultural products. Jerry Falwell was famous for hallucinating that the toddler TV show Teletubbies was sneaking in a gay message with its Tinky Winky character, while others claimed they saw subliminal gay messages in the Disney movie Frozen. So the AFA has stopped trying to sniff out hidden messages and now goes after ones that are fully intended to be LGBT-positive. The lesbian introduction in the Oreo ad ends with the voiceover: “A loving world starts with a loving home. Show you’re a proud parent.” Happy boycotting!