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Get Back In The Damn Closet!

Posted by Rick · April 1st, 2005 · 4 Comments

Goody! An opportunity to write about something other than Terri Schiavo!

As occasionally happens here, a comment posted by a reader of Unspun™ inspired a response from me. And as perhaps happens too often here, my response seemed long enough and — in this case, anyway — seemed to carry the conversation far enough from it’s original topic that I decided to make it into a free-standing post.

In a discussion following my article “Talking About Morality,” Bob and the Newswriter got into a back-and-forth about “dogma” and “morality.” Then, like some hip Hollywood television producer, someone had to go and create a television show post where gays got a featured role.

There’s actually not much Bob said in that discussion with which I disagree. And I should note for the 150-200 per day out there who silently read this blog, but never comment, that it’s not necessary to disagree before having a worthwhile comment to post!

However, there were a couple things which I found somewhat interesting. Most of them centered around the happy topic of gayness.

It almost sounded to me like Bob was saying “Get those frickin’ faggots back in the closet!” The idea that somehow television shows which show people who are gay as if being gay were an acceptable lifestyle… *gasp!*

I’m hopeful that’s not what he meant. Frankly, it wouldn’t bother me if half the world “went gay.” It would certainly go some ways towards solving our over-population problems!

But seriously, most people saying things like what Bob said — and I think I know Bob well enough to believe he’s not in this camp — are simply bigoted homophobes. Those folk frequently complain about the visibility of gays, but never complain about the same “visibility” respecting heterosexuals. Get some gays with 8% body-fat making it look okay to be gay on television and they’ll go nuts; get some scantily-clad 8% body-fat heterosexual women as hyper-sexed government agents, private eyes, or what-have-you jumping around the screen and it’s all thumbs-up.

Even the more benign stuff, like the differences between heterosexual men and women on a show like…oh…what’s that one with “Tim the Tool Man”? That’s okay. Unlike TV shows mining heterosexual culture for jokes, a TV show mining gay culture for jokes is suddenly shoving homosexuality down our children’s throats.

Bob, as I said, doesn’t strike me as being “one of those.” (“One of those bigots,” I mean; not “one of those gays.”) In fact, another thing I found interesting about his comment was that he easily slid between blasting the open presentation of gay culture and blasting the mass-marketing of heterosexuality; he’s almost an EOB (equal-opportunity blaster).

It struck me as odd, though, that he would often say things like this:

Its hip (and profitable) to create shows about gay people right now. In fact, our entire culture is obsessive about sex. We see sex where it doesn’t even belong. (Can a car be sold today without the female window dressing? Why aren’t women more offended?).


Does Will & Grace (one of my favorites by the way) have to be broadcast at 8 PM? I don’t have children but I am starting to empathize with friends who do when they complain about having to guard what their children watch.

The ‘costume malfunction’ of the Super Bowl is a case in point.

Or, finally,

Flipping through cable TV is even more dangerous. ‘Queer as Folk’ for the boys and ‘The L Word’ for the girls not to mention most movies on cable contain a sex scene or strong sexual innuendo.

Everyone of those quotes starts off with a comment that appears to complain about being open regarding gay culture and slides into a complaint about heterosexual culture.

“It’s hip to make shows about gays right now…and that’s a shame because there’s already too much of an obsession in appealing to heterosexual male hormones to sell cars.”

The truth is that the few times I’ve seen Will & Grace, I don’t believe I’ve seen any sex — not even a clothing malfunction. (Bunny loves the show, btw; I strongly dislike it, so, naturally, in our instantiation of heterosexual culture, it doesn’t appear much on our TV.) So how does that rate the disapprobative slide from “Will & Grace” to “guard what children watch” to “costume malfunction”? And I’ve never seen either “Queer as Folk” or “The L Word” — do they contain more frequent sex scenes than the heterosexual movies with which they were coupled (pardon the expression)? Or did you mean to complain that “most movies on cable” contain homosexual sex scenes?

I find disturbing the comparison — and complaint — about shows featuring largely non-sexual interactions between characters some (even many) of whom are gay and more-justified complaints about mass-marketed hyper-heterosexuality.

I can imagine a counter-argument that says, “Look. Gays are actually in the minority. But shows featuring gays are not. This shows that they’re trying to cram homosexuality down our children’s throats.”

Well, for a long time — it may still be the case, but my TV tastes run towards Law & Order, the Science Channel and National Geographic, so I’m not sure — it was hip and profitable to make shows about African-Americans. Why were there no complaints about shoving “uppity [I’m not going to say the word, but you’ve heard it connected with the word I just used]” down “white” America’s throats? African-Americans certainly don’t constitute the majority in the United States.

And I’ll go apoplectic if you try to come back and tell me that shows featuring African-Americans were not just as sexualized as Will & Grace. The only difference is that one set of characters is presumably featured because of their race, while the other is presumably featured because of their not being heterosexual. In neither case was one more sexually-demonstrative than the other.

And the same is true of just about every other heterosexual TV show. Tell me “Cheers” didn’t have a sexual undercurrent with Sam Malone putting the make on any (always attractive) female on the show. Tell me TV talk shows don’t have more than their fair share of sexual innuendo. Tell me “Sex in the City” is all about homosexuality. Want to explore strange new worlds? Check out any episode of Star Trek. And when it comes to targeted marketing of sexuality towards children, what about Smallville? Forget Viagra (or I guess for that age group, it would be Ecstasy), get that boy some Kryptonite!

Could American television use a “moral tune-up”? Perhaps. I’m not going to argue with you, although I admit it hasn’t bothered me (and I also admit I don’t have kids). But sex gets marketed — just like violence and “drama,” btw — because sex sells. Television shows, including the “news,” appeal to the basic — and basest — drives of Homo sapiens sapiens because people who produce those shows are about making money. And to make money, they need viewers.

Let me re-quote Pogo for you here: “We have met the enemy…and he is us.”

You want to complain about something? Don’t complain about the fact that gays are treated just like heterosexuals. Complain that Corporate America doesn’t ever consider the potentially negative impacts of their unbridled quest for profit. And that’s true whether we’re talking about the damage to our impressionable children, our environment, our political system, or whatever else you want to examine.

Categories: Social Issues


4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 newswriter // Apr 1, 2005 at 10:18 am

    Thank you.

    [Editor’s Note: ??? For what?]

  • 2 Bob // Apr 1, 2005 at 5:18 pm

    For clarification:

    It almost sounded to me like Bob was saying ?Get those frickin? faggots back in the closet!? The idea that somehow television shows which show people who are gay as if being gay were an acceptable lifestyle? *gasp!*

    My point was that Will & Grace doesn’t belong at 8 PM. With it’s “cutting edge” lifestyle humor it should be aired later. Families need a safe hour.

    Everyone of those quotes starts off with a comment that appears to complain about being open regarding gay culture and slides into a complaint about heterosexual culture.

    I love sex. End of story. Period.

    I, however, find that when buying a car, that sex has little to do with the performance of the engine. (Silly me, I just don’t get it).

    I’m also a HUGE football fan. I STILL don’t understand why you need cheerleaders at a game. Either you cheer or you don’t. Figure it out for yourself.

    Gay culture, straight culture, bent culture can all have its time on TV as long as a DMZ time period can be respected where little ones can see something that is less than hyper sexual.

    I was not attacking any lifestyle, I was defending those who are too young to have a sexual identity who potentially could have their sexual identity shaped by nothing more than self serving mass marketing.

    There?s actually not much Bob said in that discussion with which I disagree.

    Now THAT’S Newsworthy! :)~

  • 3 Rick Horowitz // Apr 1, 2005 at 7:01 pm

    Well, I thought about mentioning this before, but there’s pretty good evidence that the choice of one’s sexual partner’s gender is genetically driven. I don’t think that television is going to shape anyone’s identity, unless they’re already predisposed for such shaping.

    That said — and, again, I’m not really in disagreement with you — as I write this I’m watching an episode of Smallville where Clark Kent has been overcome by red kryptonite and has taken a crazy woman to Las Vegas, where he married her. She’s standing on the screen in virtually nothing but white panties and some kind of corset get-up.

    And I’m pretty sure she’s not gay.

  • 4 Rick Horowitz // Apr 1, 2005 at 7:15 pm

    P.S. At the end of the show, which was about kids making premature choices, they referenced a website about teen pregnancy.

    I was going to link it here, but it turned out to be a site that exploits emotional young women to obtain their babies.

    Yay, Corporate America!

    Score another one for the rich who can afford to buy babies.

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