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B.C. actor from viral Peloton ad grappling with negative reactions

 

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VANCOUVER — At first, B.C. actor Sean Hunter was excited to land a role in a commercial for a Peloton exercise bike. Then the ad made its way onto the internet.

Since it debuted in late November, the commercial has become a viral sensation for all the wrong reasons. It’s been called sexist, tone-deaf and even an accidental portrayal of domestic abuse.

When Hunter, who works as a Vancouver teacher, realized the way the ad was being received, his heart sank.

In an email statement, Hunter described the experience of working with the cast and crew of the commercial as “extremely positive,” and said his acting coach gave him great feedback after watching it the first time.

“We shared a positive discussion about my part in the commercial and her advice helped in my endeavour of becoming a better actor, as I hold her opinion highly,” he wrote in the statement, which was also shared in Psychology Today.

“A few comments from my friends came in and the overall consensus was that it was awesome…I appreciated the compliments, but in my eyes it’s just a small role. I was simply grateful for the experience.”

But over the last week, the ad exploded online, becoming the subject of increasing mockery and criticism.

The 30-second commercial features Hunter as a husband who gives his wife a Peloton for Christmas. She then records a year’s worth of videos journaling her use of the bike, which she describes as a life-changing experience.

Some have criticized the portrayal of a man buying his spouse exercise equipment as body-shaming, though the actor portraying Hunter’s wife is fit at the beginning of the ad and doesn’t appear to use the bike for weight loss.

Others focused on the wife’s facial expressions, which sometimes appear almost worried – leading some social media users to joke that “the husband in the Peloton ad is abusive.”

Absolutely 100% chance that the husband in the Peloton ad is abusive

— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) December 2, 2019

Though it might be a coincidence, the company’s stock tumbled nine per cent on Tuesday as reaction to the commercial was spreading online.

“I wonder what repercussions will come back to me,” Hunter said. “I pride myself on being a great teacher and developing actor, and I can only hope that this affects neither. I’m grappling with the negative opinions as none of them have been constructively helpful.”

Hunter said he’s also been thinking about the actor who played his wife, and how she’s handling the backlash. For now, he’s reflecting on some questions about how to move forward.

“Why are people creating so many additional narratives to the story?” he wrote. ” 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? The aftermath of the commercial has left me with more questions than answers.”

RELATED IMAGES

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  • Sean Hunter

    B.C. actor Sean Hunter (left) says he’s been disheartened by the response to Peloton’s new exercise bike ad.

  • Peloton

    Peloton, the indoor bike start-up, released a new holiday ad that in another time may not have made a dent in the cultural conversation. But this is 2019, and once the internet found the ad and pulled at its seams, there was no turning back. (Peloton)

 

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