Last month, high-end exercise equipment company Peloton released a 30-second ad that has now been widely mocked and called out, with some noting how offensive it could be to buy your partner workout equipment as a gift, and others wondering why anyone would display their Instagram Stories on a TV in front of their family.
And now, the disgraced husband in the ad — or, rather, the actor who plays him — has spoken out.
In a statement written for Psychology Today (sent to a contributor who happens to be a friend of his), Sean James, an actor and elementary school teacher in Vancouver, Canada, opened up about the backlash that has ensued since the ad's release.
At first, he said, the response to it was pretty positive: "My acting coach messaged me after seeing the video and said that I looked great!"
He described his experience filming the ad in September, which he said was a "wonderful time" with an amazing cast and crew, including the actresses who played the mother and daughter.
"But a few days ago, that all changed," he wrote. "Reviews from my friends stopped as the video went viral. I soon noticed that the commercial had several thousand down votes as the tweets came out and talk shows weighed in."
"My 5 seconds of air time created an array of malicious feedback that is all associated with my face," he wrote. "My friend texted me today declaring that I’m 'a symbol of the patriarchy.'"
James's blog statement reflects on what consequences the ad might have for him personally. After all, Peloton's stock did plummet after it went viral.
"As my face continues to be screen shot online, I wonder what repercussions will come back to me," he wrote, in a manner not dissimilar from Carrie Bradshaw's "I couldn't help but wonder".
"I pride myself on being a great teacher and developing actor, and I can only hope that this affects neither. […] As I continue to reflect on the commercial, I consider these thoughts: Why are people creating so many additional narratives to the story?" he added. "Am I allowed to view the commercial positively after receiving such negative feedback? If recognized on the street, what will people’s first opinions be of me?"
That said, he did change his Instagram handle to "@pelotonhusband," so maybe it's not all so bad?
He also conceded that his perspective is only half of the story: "I reflect on what my co-actor must be dealing with, as she’s the other 25 seconds of the story."
Peloton, for its part, is standing by the ad. The company said in a statement, "While we're disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by — and grateful for — the outpouring of support we've received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate."
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