By now nearly everyone is familiar with the Peloton exercise bike commercial controversy. The 30-second ad spot has sparked extensive mocking online, a spoof video and even a rally around finding the actress who plays the wife in order to “help” her.
Now the man who plays the husband – who has been called “abusive” and “a symbol of the patriarchy” – is speaking out about his role in the commercial, while also seemingly embracing the newfound fame on Instagram by changing his handle to “Peloton Husband.”
Sean Hunter, an actor and elementary school teacher in Vancouver, Canada, wrote a long response to Psychology Today about his experience with the commercial, which he shot in September, claiming when the clip was posted months later, it was “well received.”
“A few comments from my friends came in and the overall consensus was that it was awesome, one even mentioning, ‘I always knew you would make the big time.’ I appreciated the compliments, but in my eyes it was just a small role. I was simply grateful for the experience.”
However, the positive reception was short-lived when the video went viral, he says, and now he fears it will haunt him for the rest of his career.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My 5 seconds of air time created an array of malicious feedback that is all associated with my face,” he said in the Psychology Today essay.
Those on Twitter began chastising the commercial – and the actors in it – as patriarchal, sexist and “corny.”
“As my face continues to be screen shot online, I wonder what repercussions will come back to me. I pride myself on being a great teacher and developing actor, and I can only hope that this affects neither,” he wrote. “I’m grappling with the negative opinions as none of them have been constructively helpful.”
Hunter shares that he’s concerned his students will find the commercial and potentially think differently of him – a worry he hopes does not come to fruition as he writes “this commercial has nothing to do with my ability to teach or who I am.”
“Unfortunately, the problem is that viewers can mistake an actor as that person after they’ve seen them on television instead of a person given a script with no opinion on what they are being told to portray,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, on Instagram, Hunter posted a screenshot from the commercial one day ago with the caption, “Who would have thought my wife and I would be in so much controversy! Wish I kept the receipt.”