UPDATE: Due to backlash from the theater arts community, Madison Square Garden Company has agreed to retract its controversial ads that suggested the actor-acrobat-aerialists who play Spider-Man on Broadway are not "real men."
Dan Schoenberg, the vice president of the sports division at MSG, told us: "The ad was simply bad judgement on our part. We are in the process of
having them immediately removed. We apologize to anyone who was
Thankfully, "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" isn't taking the whole thing too seriously. Spokesman Rick Miramontez told us: "We always smile at the occasional ribbing — but applaud the decision to take these ads down."
Schoenberg told Metro that most of the posters have already been removed; MSG plans to have all of the remaining ads taken down citywide by this weekend.
Find the original story below:
What does it mean to be a "real man"? Ads by Madison Square Garden Networks imply that it means being an athlete on the court — but definitely not being an actor on Broadway.
Posters spotted throughout New York City yesterday read: "It's Friday night. You can either see a Broadway harness malfunction or you can watch real men fly."
The message refers specifically to tech accidents that happened during previews for "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark." The accompanying image is Knicks power forward Amar'e Stoudemire holding a basketball.
Theater advocates have been up in arms about the clumsy tag line, which suggests that actors — in particular, the aerialists/acrobats with a lifetime of training who fly for "Spider-Man" — are less masculine or work less hard than athletes. Some have even gone so far as to accuse the message of being "homophobic," although that claim remains contestable in the social media sphere. What's agreed upon is that this ad perpetuates narrow — and extremely outdated — definitions of masculinity. Other comments about the ad use such phrases as "tacky," "not funny," "embarrassing" and "insulting to one of NYC's oldest institutions."
This raises another important question: Why is Madison Square Garden putting itself in competition with Broadway in the first place? As of 2010, MSG took in approximately $1.2 billion while all of the top 40 theaters on Broadway grossed just upward of $1 billion. The numbers don't exactly point to a heated rivalry between sporting events and the arts. More than likely, it's just a cheap shot based on an easy joke that by all rights expired back at the top of 2011. The entire setup seems more fitting for an episode of "Mad Men," though one can only imagine Don Draper's expression of contempt if this idea were to come across his desk — even back in 1967.
This controversy comes at a time when New York is still suffering the results of its biggest natural disaster, with 1.3 million in the state still displaced and without power in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Now, more than ever, it seems like NYC's entertainment industries should be rallying together to drive revenue by welcoming patronage of all kinds back to The Big Apple. Many are vying for MSG Networks to take down the ads and issue a statement of apology toward the recently reinstated Broadway, which resumed on Oct. 31 after three days of closures.