Saturday, March 01, 2008

Feeling Queasy About This

Or A TV kiss is not a kiss. by Anthony McCarthy

As if gay men don’t have enough problems now we have a controversy about two gay characters kissing on a soap opera. The controversy is stirred up by one of the cooky-cutter-conservative-corporations, the home industry of American facism. And, of course, they have to be opposed. But, quite simply, this is not a major sign of progress attacked. I’m sure it is a sign of trouble for gay men in the United States.

I doubt that the positive effects of having gay characters on soap operas are going to balance out the problems those characters will lead to. Witnessing many, many screwed up straight lives of the sort that a TV based culture seems to be good at promoting, many of them seem to be copying what they saw on soaps. The, thankfully, little direct observation I’ve made of them seem to give one clear, though clearly unintended and unlearned lesson. People who give in to their desires without a sense of decency, lead screwed up lives. The kinds of lives seen in most of the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination this time. And stupid? How many people in real life are stupid enough to discuss stuff they didn’t want overheard without the door closed? After they’ve made the same mistake the sixth time? It’s as if the residents of the small-mid-western towns that, I understand, are the locations of most of the soaps are too ga-ga to be given solid food. They’re populated with idiots in perpetual heat.

The commercial media won’t be the place where positive depictions of gay people come from. The best place for people to see the best of gay men and lesbians should would be people they know personally. Those won’t be people who take their models from what American TV shows us to be. Not even with their best efforts. And that would not be found on the soaps. The media could only play a role in bring us up from oppression if decent, responsible, intelligent adult gay men and lesbians were written and acted by good writers and excellent actors. Frankly, those aren’t going to be found on daytime TV, they are almost non-existent in the moives, where decent, adult, gay men are even rarer than nice straight guys. And speaking of straight people. The models of straight behavior on TV doesn’t enhance the lives of straight people, why should anyone expect they’ll do better by us? At the risk of offending large numbers of people, the number of soap opera names held by neglected children in the news must mean something.

American TV is crap. I don’t want anyone forming an idea of me based on what is found there any more than responsible, grown-up lesbians would want to be taken for Rosie O’Donnell or Ellen DeGeneres. While the neo-fascists have to be opposed, I’d feel a lot better about defending gay characters kissing on TV if I didn’t suspect those will lead to silly, superficial, screwed-up behavior in what we have to take by default as being real life.