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“It feels like the Kiss Cam plays off basic [misogynistic] assumptions of power and consent,” he says, “so much that I bought into its dynamics enough to feel compelled to apologize after it was all done.” The kiss cam seems like a lighthearted gimmick, but underneath the surface is a more insidious cultural pressure and message.
“You’re creating a social situation in which there is an expectation to engage in touch—both suddenly and publicly,” says Melissa A.
Fabello, a sex researcher who studies how people make meaning of their experiences with touch.
Dan Wade, a Minneapolis resident who works in digital media, says the pressure of being caught on the big board made him feel like he had to kiss his ex-girlfriend when they ended up on a kiss cam at a Minnesota Twins game in 2006, a little more than a year after their breakup.
These days, the Hawks crowd knows it’s coming when Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” comes over the speakers.
“That is the one thing that people always seem to take away from games, because we try to always make it so something memorable happens during the kiss cam.” A spokesperson for the Orlando Magic, who also run the kiss cam during games and have done so for the past 15 years, described the feature as “a fun way to break up the game and bring a lighthearted moment to the in-venue experience.” David Schindler, senior director and executive producer of event presentation and production for the Tennessee Titans, thinks the whole goal of the cam is “comic relief.” “No matter what happens on the field, we can get a laugh and have some fun once a game with the Kiss Cam,” he says.
Of the 30 NBA teams, 12 confirmed that they use an in-arena kiss cam.And how has that changed with our evolving understanding of consent and the ongoing #Me Too movement?The exact roots of the kiss cam are unclear, but video screens in sports arenas debuted in 1980 at Dodger Stadium, and sometime not long after that, kiss cams were born.“I wasn’t the one who placed us on the Cam,” he said.“And while I am sure that was part of my sheepish apology, I was [also] apologizing for being embarrassing because we kiss.” A decade later, Shprintzen says he doesn’t remember anything else about the game—not who won, not who pitched, not who made the best play.