Following yesterday's post, a comment/e-mail exchange with my good blog friend Paul:
Yes, the message needs -- and must be -- changed.
"Being gay" has been been the butt of jokes, an expression of ridicule, and a "simple" derogatory phrase on TV and in the movies for years. As long as I can remember.
Until recently -- within the past couple of years -- it never really bothered me. I just accepted it. And I probably laughed right along with everybody else. Now however, every time I hear it I think, "They didn't really have to say that. Surely the copywriters could have thought of something else."
My favorite TV show is Two and a Half Men. I find every episode intensely funny. Unfortunately, Jake, the 14-year old, has a habit of expressing himself saying "that's gay." And I cringe every time I hear him say it. "Being gay" is obviously negative to Jake, even if he isn't referencing anything sexually. (And, yes, sometimes he is.)
But, Matt, what do we do about it? Talking to the choir doesn't help at all. It doesn't really help if your straight friends/associates don't say "gay things" around you in an attempt to be sensitive to you. They must not say it at all. Anywhere. And, believe it.
I commend Ellen for her monologue. But she needs to go on David Letterman and/or Jay Leno and make the same speech. Perhaps she could change THEIR monologues.
Ellen, and Rosie, and a few others, have a lot of influence in Hollywood and New York. I hope they use it.
I'd like to hear Chad Darnell's perspective on this. Do writers cater to their own beliefs, or the popular opinion of potential viewers? Would a show really lose ratings if derogatory "gay" comments were deleted? (Maybe you should forward my comment to him.)
OK, I'm over it.
Paul, two hours later:
So, I’ve been thinking about your post for a few hours.
Maybe talking to the choir isn’t such a bad idea.
While I can’t change what others do, I do need to change what I do.
I frequently say, “he’s too gay,” referring to a current HGTV host that I don’t like to watch. And, “he’s just too fuckin’ gay,” referring to a cross-dresser that hangs out frequently at one of the same places I sometimes hang out.
The reality is that I’m very judgmental. It’s not just “too gay.” But “too fat.” “Too ugly.” “Too stupid.” “Too tall.” “Too short.” “Too weird.” …
I’m not sure if it’s hatred, but it’s definitely not right.
Nobody should be a second-class citizen.
(Am I in the choir?)
You hit the nail on the head. Anytime anyone says “(S)he’s too _______ “, it’s a judgment, it’s putting someone down, it’s making someone less than who we are, and it’s definitely not right.
Not that I’m above it all. But recognizing that we do it is at least a step.
Yes, I’m preaching to the choir. For the most part. But I’m also preaching to anyone who stumbles across my blog. And I hope that just one person who comes there accidentally will read and think something they haven’t thought of previously.
I had someone in South Carolina, who I’ve never heard of, invite me to be a Facebook friend. Simply because we have the same last name. It’s an uncommon name. But I accepted his invitation, in part because maybe he’ll find himself exposed to something that he would never have previously been exposed to. Maybe, hopefully, something I write or at least post will have a positive influence on someone. If that happens with one person, I feel grateful, I feel like I’ve done something good.
Yes, Paul, you’re in The Choir. But thank you for bringing up an important point. We all, every day, should think about the messages we’re sending, and to whom. We can change the world … but it starts with us. We should all change what we say and do to match what we truly, deeply believe.
I’m starting right now. You?