Oscars ban online dating site ad

A TV spot for AshleyMadison.com, the site that encourages unhappy married people to hook up, has been rejected by ABC on what appear to be moral grounds.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

A man is caught red-handed by his blue-bodied wife.

He is in bed with another woman. His wife is not happy. His wife, in fact, begins to assault him. She slaps him, as he and his other woman try to escape.

Is this a scene from "Fatal Attraction"? Is this, perhaps, a cinematic homage to two Oscar-nominated movies, "It's Complicated" and "Avatar"?

No, it is merely a commercial for AshleyMadison.com, the site that helps married people hook up with, well, other married people. AshleyMadison claims to have 4.5 million members and its tagline is very specific, dramatic, and people-centric: "Life is Short. Have an Affair."

So, naturally, the business brains at thought ABC's Oscars telecast next Sunday would be the perfect place to advertise its wares. (See commercial below, but a warning, it starts off pretty steamy.)

You will be taken aback all the way to a Preston Sturges film set to discover that ABC, according to AshleyMadison, has decided this woebegotten attempt to encourage social instability does not contain content appropriate for Oscars night.

I have reached out to ABC to ask for its side of this spat. However, a spokesperson for AshleyMadison suggested it all smacks of hypocrisy. He wailed at Oscar-nominated movies such as "Up In The Air" and "Nine," in which infidelity is a fundamental part of the storyline. He even pointed a finger at ABC's "Desperate Housewives" and hissed: "Enough said."

I could not possibly suggest that marital infidelity also carries with it the merest tinge of hypocrisy. And I can, of course, understand entirely why such a controversial piece of communication might be deemed inappropriate by the network whose apogee of controversy in recent times was bringing us Steve Wozniak in "Dancing With the Stars."

However, if you watch the AshleyMadison spot (which I have, um, embedded for you here) you will see that it actually has a very moral ending. The wife makes her husband submit to her will. She forcefully makes him see the error of his ways. She explains to him that love can never come from some weak-willed fling with one's secretary.

Perhaps it is this very moral fact that appealed to the censors in that very moral country, Australia. You see, this very same spot has been approved for airing during the Oscars telecast over there.

Disclosure: CNET is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS, which suffered its own backlash for refusing to air controversial commercials during the Super Bowl.