Last month, Cambodia’s second largest telecom provider Mobitel – operator of the Cellcard network – released a TV commercial poking fun at transgender people and consequently upsetting many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. The spot had its debut on the social network Facebook, where it received 323 likes, 144 shares and a mountain of “LOL’s“ from Cambodian users, who but for one exception found it very amusing. The commercial, titled “Blind Date“, opens with a young man calling his companion-to-be on a cell phone. He never met her before and with his imagination running wild, he fantasises about a woman one would more likely see in a blockbuster movie than walking down the street.
Sadly, he cannot hear her very well – his telephone connection is breaking up. He waits for her at a Cafe where he makes acquaintance with another youth awaiting his sweetheart. The protagonist‘s phone rings again. His date is on the phone, but he still cannot hear her. Finally, the moment of anticipation is over. She arrives and to the visible discontent of the leading character she is not the girl he envisaged. Instead, she is a transgender person. Now his counterpart’s girlfriend enters and she very much fits the part. Before the curtain falls, the young man warns: “to avoid disappointing results like this, choose Cellcard !“ Funny? Not to everyone.