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TV rant: Commercializing Homosexuality

October 6, 2015

The topic of homosexuality is a touchy subject, and I will handle it with the respect that it clearly deserves, but I ask that you all patiently hear me out on this issue. At a glance, one will read the title and automatically assume I have an agenda to disrespect the Gay/Lesbian population with some bible thumping Christian rhetoric, but this is not one of those type rants. I am just trying to call everyone’s attention to the fact that homosexual themes are now a part of nearly every show or random weekly plotlines on many TV shows today. One could argue that we have more homosexual themes built into the fabric of the TV universe than we do minority characters on TV today.

My concern on this matter is similar to my issue with casting women of color with White male leads, just because they’re calling it diversity or progress doesn’t make it true. Homosexuality is a part of the landscape of our society, and their stories deserve telling along with other minority groups kept out of the mainstream. Are we being shown real stories about homosexual character’s or are we simply being shown a caricature of who we think they are? If we could ask Gay/Lesbian fans is the current TV trend a true representation of how they wish to see TV portray homosexual characters to the masses, how would they respond?

Some fans and supporters of Gay/Lesbian causes may say “what’s the big deal? At least we’re finally being recognized!” but my cause for concern is the fact that these themes play in primetime in mostly a comedic context and are never given any serious legs to stand on. While Modern Family may appear to be laughing with many of the Gay community, who may feel it ok to laugh at themselves from time to time, homosexuality is not a joke. I can’t help but think that if this trend was true, as inclusive or progressive as it likes to applaud itself for being, it would include Gay and Lesbian themes in a more serious representation.

There is always a Gay son trying to overcome his family’s expectations, or a daughter doing exactly the same thing and, for the most part, they are always on comedies. We even see these themes placed in the backdrop of an already existing procedural within their weekly premise, but do we ever take on this issues seriously or realistically? Another thing I would like to point out is TV/films tendency to hire non-Gay/Lesbian actors as opposed to simply hiring Gay/Lesbian actors to play characters that come naturally to them. It’s the equivalent of the old practice of having White actors playing Native Americans.

For every actor that is talented enough to pull off a British accent or convince the audience that they are Gay, there is a talented Gay actor out there that isn’t getting his shot! Talk about irony, how is it possible that a Gay/Lesbian or Bi-sexual actor couldn’t fill a role in the midst of this current trend? The irony is that Hollywood would still hire straight actors to play many of these roles simply because this is how they operate and make decisions. They seemingly operate on the “wow!” factor, “wouldn’t it be cool if we got this well-known actress to play this other actress, girlfriend?” Thus, straight actors often get these parts; that’s irony for you.

Listen, I’m unapologetic about being a Christian and having my values and morals that I’m equally unapologetic about having but never assume you know my views based on assumptions. We live in a society in which we entertain ourselves with repetitive themes of infidelity and adultery in a real world filled with infidelity and adultery. We have celebrities who change spouses and partners like most people change hairstyles or hair color. We’ve managed to devalue further marriage by making it a friggin Reality game show called “The Bachelor and The Bachelorette”,  but we want to justify an argument against Gay/Lesbians getting married? Are you friggin kidding me?

I have my views, and I don’t need approval from anyone about my 20-year marriage to my wife, nor does any Gay/Lesbian couple need my approval of their union.  I am capable of watching TV while maintaining my ability to think and reason, and I believe that the trend in homosexual themes being thrust on the public is about marketing, not real diversity or progress socially. On the new Fox show Rosewood, they seemingly killed two birds with one stone by introducing an interracial Lesbian couple, and I couldn’t help but think that it felt too generic or unauthentic. It wasn’t an issue with the idea itself; it was just the fact that either it was the actresses themselves or the entire gimmick, it just didn’t seem authentic.

At the rate they’re introducing Gay/Lesbian themes I’m like Joan Cusack’s character from the In & Out film “is everybody Gay?” I’m like Ok people, If you’re going to exploit the issue since it’s trending right now can you at least make these people complete? They should be real people and not mere caricatures of who or what we think Gay/Lesbian people are! I find the current Gay/Lesbian trend to be as offensive as stereotyping African American, Hispanic or Middle Eastern people with any of the typical roles they offer. It’s not enough to include these characters in the primetime lineup I believe how you represent them is just as important as being there. Not all Gay/Lesbian people are as over-the-top as the Modern Family characters, but if that’s all we are willing to offer on a whole how will we ever learn the truth?

I am a passionate fan of TV; I love storytelling and how we can use the medium to tell so many different stories. I love the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and I enjoy Drama as well, but the bottom line is I love uplifting stories with a message. Being Gay or Lesbian is a lifestyle, not a gimmick to be used to make people laugh or poke fun at an entire community for the sake of entertainment. If these themes were in earnest, I’d be on board especially if they were educational or uplifting, but they’re done for laughs and at the expense of real people in our society.

One day all minority groups (race, gender, sexual orientation) will get the respect they deserve on TV/film, and I hope that trend catches on.  Until then I’ll be right here waiting to see something different, something unique. The real problem I have with our society is not that these things are happening, it’s that these things are happening, and we say nothing because we get use to it. The TV powers that be exploit sex, violence, rape, murder, objectify women and perpetuate racial stereotypes, so are we to believe they wouldn’t exploit homosexuality for their gain? Look underneath the surface of what is being presented to the public and decide for yourself. I’m not convinced that TV’s latest effort to show so many Gay/Lesbian themes are legitimate efforts towards true diversity and acceptance of alternative lifestyles for many of the reasons I’ve already covered.

Perhaps we will see real change shortly, and Gay and Lesbian issues will be a normal part of the primetime universe, but without gimmicks, over-the -top antics. Perhaps they will be treated with the same respect that any other minority demographic would want to see as an equal and fair representation of themselves on the big and small screen. I’m optimistic that others feel the same way I do, and I’m equally optimistic that real change can be made in this area if enough people voice their opinions. I know a lot of fans like things just as they are and as long as this is true some things will not change or at least not overnight. Until a change occurs, I’m going to continue to point out these small details until enough people hear me and voice their similar concerns on this issue. Homosexuality, whether you agree with the lifestyle or not it is not a gimmick we can poke fun at or a caricature we can use to laugh at an entire demographic of our society.

While I have fundamentally different views than many people who identify as homosexual, this does not mean that I share the same opinions of some that are in disagreement with the Gay lifestyle. I don’t have generalized opinions about who all Gay/Lesbian people are, nor do I enjoy laughing at stereotypical characterizations. Some people who I consider friends, even members of my extended family identify as either bisexual or homosexual, so I would never misuse my personal beliefs to attack someone’s sexual preference or lifestyle. I don’t find the generalization or stereotyping of any group entertaining. Go ahead and laugh or even applaud and call this trend progress, I call it a P.R. campaign intended to promote diversity merely on appearance.

I think the same logic that has paired so many women of color with White actors on TV today has given birth to the trend of so many Homosexual characters on TV currently. I’m very confident that someone will use my words to prove that I am anti-Gay as some are, but I’m concerned with TV show quality, not quantity. Having a Homosexual, bisexual or Lesbian character/theme on nearly every show is no more an example of real diversity any more than pairing women of color with White men is real progress. When TV as a whole shows me these themes being taken seriously and not just the comedy stylings of homosexual characterization, then I’ll be less cynical of what it is I believe they’re trying to do.

Are the people making these decisions considering the type of message we are sending, or the people we are potentially harming in the process with these misguided representations? Barbara Keen, the Gotham character went from the future Mrs. Gordon to the over-the-top/cheating Lesbian crazy killer, is this the right move? If homosexuality isn’t being routinely implanted in every comedy writers are making at least one character in a drama gay for no other reason than marketing. Am I wrong for being skeptical? Is it too much to ask that they portray these characterizations seriously and not just throw themes at us? Think outside the box people! African Americans can play something other than a gang member, or a criminal. Middle Eastern-Americans should be allowed to be anything other than a terrorist, and the Homosexual community has more to offer than the comedic or over-the-top caricatures we see trending today on primetime TV today.

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2 Comments
  1. Omg ❤️! Television Programming is just what it sounds like: mental programming! I had a conversation with my dad recently about how in the media art does not imitate life. Life imitates the art. Since the introduction of the television and the millions of devoted watchers everyday, media outlets know what gets people talking and what will influence them for their own personal agenda. I don’t watch much tv anymore. I don’t need to lol, there’s no substance or real entertainment quality for me. And I agree, these are simply caricatures or sub groups of America. Not the real deal at all. I winced when you compared it to the whitewashing of Native American characters. But you hit the nail on the head. I’m glad that in the mist of all your tv watching, you didn’t lose your ability to think for yourself. God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate you taking the time to read my post as well as providing your feedback. I’m called a prude for speaking out against what I call the objectification of females and I’m called old fashioned for still admitting that I have morals or values. Some may tell me to simply turn the channel or stop thinking and just be entertained, but that’s just it, I can’t be programmed that way.

      Eric

      Like

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