- Entertainment and Media
From the 'Most won't Touch it with a 10 Foot Poll, But I Feel Something Must Be Said' File: The Gay Thing
While watching a preview for an upcoming HBO show about gay men I had a thought. Call it more of a reaction. The ad depicts mustacheoed men gazing at one another with that certain twinkle in their eyes. This caused a physical sense of repulsion in me. Now, this does not mean I'm not tolerant. I am. I have no issue with homosexual people or how they choose to live. At the risk of sounding like that "I'm not racist, I have a black friend" guy, I've had many gay friends. When I worked in the travel industry I had a regular crew of drinking buddies of which I was the only heterosexual member. We had many good times together and I will love each of them for life. We've travelled together, shared beds, shared stories. I have no problem with their, or anyone's, sexuality.
My repulsed reaction was not intolerance on my part. It wasn't about me being close-minded or a bigot. It was about me being a physical/chemical/biological heterosexual male. Sex, in my mind, is hard-wired to only associate with women. So much so that if those wires get crossed, if my 'sexual' wiring crosses paths with thoughts of men, I have a physical reaction. This is programming so deeply ingrained that it goes back to the simplest forms of my ancestors. It runs deep. That inner code is the whole reason I, or anyone for that matter, even exists. It's as much a part of me as this big head of mine.
Now I'm not making a case here to put a stop to any and all shows that depict the gay lifestyle. I don't have to be comfortable with everything that's beamed into the social consciousness. There are homosexual people that, just as I am, are a part of the television watching community. They too should be represented. I have no issue with that.
The issue I have is more with the powers that be that produce these shows. Does it not seem to anyone else that there's an excessive amount of pandering going on here? Maybe it's just me, but I feel that if I were gay I'd be offended. Like this latest HBO show, called 'Looking'. I know it's quite trendy nowadays to be openly supportive of the "alternative lifestyle". You want to gain yourself some street-cred, maybe a few pats on the back, maybe an Emmy or two, make a show about the gay community. It's the way these companies nowadays set themselves apart as progressive, or artistic, or liberal, or whatever other trendy adjective they may want to evoke to show they're 'hip' and 'relevant'.
This HBO ad made no attempt to show that there was any more nuance to the story being told. No sense of the personalities of these characters, their particular situations or perdicerments, only that they were gay and that they were oogling one another. And in the 'hey, everybody look at how modern and forward thinking we are-vein', that's really all that needs to be shown.
I've talked to friends recently who had an issue with the show Game of Thrones for depicting more gay characters and situations in the show that what is found in the book. Where the book might just make a passing statement that suggests this one character may be gay, the show depicts a scene between this character and their gay lover, and turns it into this major thread in the overall narrative. I don't even have an issue with that. When you're writing a show that depicts such a large cast of characters, the numbers alone would suggest at least one of those characters is most likely gay. But Game of Thrones is a much bigger show than that. It has a much larger story to tell. The homosexual part is just a small strand in an otherwise very large story. If you want to make a sci-fi fantasy seem more grounded in the real world, then it makes sense to me that part of this 'real world' would be that some people in it are homosexual.
Now I realize the argument could be made that homosexual men may very well feel the same sense of repulsion when faced with the overabundant amount of hetero sex that's depicted in the media. Perhaps they do. That's what this is about. Having a conversation that's not very commonly had. A chance for those who disagree with me to make their case and help me expand my understanding and make me aware of things I maybe am not aware of currently.
Maybe it's my hetero-brain clouding my judgement, but shows like this 'Looking' seem to me to be the homosexual equivalent of the kinds of shows you catch late at night on "Skin-emax". Maybe just with a higher production value and more emphasis on advertising. No other real purpose than to just be eye-candy for those who might be looking for that kind of thing. If it were actually billed that way I'd have less of an issue with it. I think it more has to do with it being wrapped in this Emmy-bate veneer and bandied about by HBO as its next big, serious, forward-thinking, progressive.... whatever. It seems like a cheap grab for attention or maybe applause to me.
Now, as far as my feeling of repulsion, that merely started me on this train of thought. But I do know and understand that my admitting to this could put me in a bad light in the eyes of some. They might see me as intolerant, or close-minded. And that's their right. I don't think that's true. I could make the argument that in this age of tolerance that we find ourselves in, where those who are slow to accept the gay lifestyle being so brandishly waived in front of them, are shunned by the popular community, is that not in itself a form of intolerance? To shame those who aren't so quickly accepting? Is it really their fault that they were brought up in a life where such things were not spoken about? Where they may find it quite the shock to the system being that it's one of the first times they've really encountered it, and don't quite know what to make of it or how to handle it? Do they deserve to be shunned for being a little slow to 'get with the program'?
I know this isn't a popular topic to discuss, which is exactly why I feel it deserves discussing. I simply felt something should be said. But it's not like I get the last word. Please, have the discussion. Am I wrong?