Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lord Help the Sister Who Comes Between Me and My Man

Speaking of homosexuals, Brent Bozell, a Buckley-nephew-by-marriage and right-wing media watchdog, recently warned (via) his readers that homosexuals are spreading their propaganda on the TV to suck America's teenagers into the gay lifestyle. His first target is Glee, of course, and Entertainment Weekly magazine for putting Glee's gay male characters on its cover.
Gay "Glee" actor Chris Colfer and his boyfriend on the show, Darren Criss, lovingly put their heads together on the cover.
I just realized that Bozell slipped significantly here: "lovingly"? Maybe he intended it as sarcasm. Decent people know that homosexuals don't love each other, we only feel degrading, degraded lust. That should have read "lustfully put their heads together on the cover." Better get your act together, Brent: you can be replaced with someone who'll toe the party line more consistently.
Colfer just won a Golden Globe for his part, which is another way the Hollywood press rewards propagandizing the youth of America. In his acceptance speech, he lamented anyone who would say a discouraging word about teen homosexuality, somehow putting all of those words in mouths of bullies: "Screw that, kids!"

Their most controversial scene was the two private-school boys singing "Baby, It's Cold Outside" to each other on the Fox show. "That was the gayest thing that has ever been on TV, period, " Colfer boasted. The magazine touted this was the hottest-selling track on the "Glee" Christmas album, which gives you a flavor of Hollywood's reverence for that holy day.
(Wow, that's badly written.) If this is true, then it's not just Hollywood that lacks reverence, but TV audiences, or at least Glee fans, for being so eager to buy this gay teen propaganda. But Hollywood's lack of reverence for "that holy day" is nothing new. Anyone else remember Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye's "Sisters" semi-drag duet in White Christmas? "Baby It's Cold Outside" has nothing to do with Christmas, but neither do many popular winter songs that are part of the holiday marketing blitz. If Lea Michele and Cory Monteith had sung "Winter Wonderland" and the song had been included on the Glee Christmas album, I doubt you'd have heard a word of complaint about it from Bozell.

From what I've seen (I just finished watching the first season on DVD), Glee is hardly a commercial for gay teens, at least in the sense that Bozell means. He wants you to believe that watching Kurt Hummel get thrown into a trash dumpster, receive death threats on the telephone, and suffer the throes of unrequited love will make young heterosexuals want to turn gay.

So, in what sense could Glee be called "gay teen propaganda"? From the viewpoint of antigay propagandists like Bozell, any depiction of gay people is propaganda. Back in the good old days of Hollywood's Production Code, it was forbidden to mention homosexuality, along with a slew of other topics. Radclyffe Hall's notorious but classic 1928 lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness, which ends with the tormented heroine driving her girlfriend into the arms of a straight man for her own good, and then shaking her fist at Heaven, was banned for being too positive, for implying that such degenerates found even transient solace in each other's arms. Antigay propagandists object even to such cries for pity and sympathy, which is basically what Glee is about, seventy-odd years after Radclyffe Hall.

When you understand this, you see what a rear-guard action people like Bozell are fighting. Like Rick Warren holding the line against same-sex marriage but waffling (at least publicly) on civil unions and hospital visitation, Bozell writes as though it's enough to keep gay characters out of mass media. "They are not celebrating diversity. They are intimidating dissidents," he complains.
As you might suspect, Entertainment Weekly didn't plan to debate gay teen propaganda, but to encourage it, energetically. Not a single soul had anything critical to say. Not even a question. If this magazine weren't so earnestly in the tank, the story could come with a disclaimer: "This issue is an advertisement bought and paid for by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation."
That's too bad. I'd love to debate "gay teen propaganda" with Brent Bozell. It's funny to see how low Bozell's standards for "debate" are: apparently even a single quotation from "a single soul," perhaps a spokesperson for some right-wing Christian group, would suffice. I expect more, myself.

But that's the normal form of journalistic balance in the US: every non-Right position must be "balanced" by quoting a Right spokesperson. Not the other way around, though. Our student newspaper, for example, can't run an article on atheism without including a quotation from a Christian minister deploring unbelief and endorsing Christian faith. I have never seen an article on religion that included a balancing quotation from an atheist. I once wrote them a letter pointing this out, and offering myself as a resource for future articles on religion; never heard back from them, though. When I wrote a column on gay parenting for the same paper, criticizing the Christian-Right group Focus on the Family, the paper printed a response from their spokeswoman, deploring my closed-minded criticism but not even trying to answer it.

Now, I don't favor the intimidation of dissidents, not least because I'm a dissident myself. But Bozell appears to be one of those people who consider any disagreement with their beliefs to be intimidation. And that's what makes me uneasy, because it's something he has in common with so many of his opponents.