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Posts for March, 2012

I’m not angry at Carson Daly

Timothy Kincaid

March 30th, 2012

So it turns out that the JetBlue flight in which the pilot went batpoop crazy had a bunch of passengers heading to some security convention. It’s no wonder they tackled and held the nutcase until they were on the ground. With my luck, it would be like, ‘This is the flight going to the pride parade in San Francisco’. When I said we should get him, they’d respond, ‘you go get him, girl, and I’ll cheer you on. Look, I brought my pom-poms.’ And that’s when you start looking for the lesbians.

Is that funny? Is it offensive?

It depends on who says it. If it’s a gay comic, then it’s an inside joke – we can mock ourselves because it’s us. If it’s Kathy Griffin, sure, I’d laugh. Truth is, Kathy probably would be on a flight to the gay pride parade traveling with someone who brought pom-poms. If you spend enough time in our community, you become part of it and earn the right to a little self-mockery.

If it were Senator Inhofe, however, I’d be offended.

Basically, it hinges on three things: is there some truth in the joke, is it designed to “laugh with us” or to “laugh about them”, and is it malicious?

Of course, I’m talking about Carson Daly’s joke about the JetBlue flight:

On this particular flight, most of the people were on their way to some sort of security conference in Las Vegas… so it was a bunch of dudes, and well-trained dudes. If that were me…with my luck, it would be like, ‘This is the flight going to the pride parade in San Francisco… I mean, that would be my colleagues. “Uh, we’re headed down to Vegas for the floral convention.”

And everyone came unhinged. What a raging homophobe, claiming that all gay men are frightened weaklings. What a jerk, and in This Day and Age. How very dare he?

But I’m just not all that upset. Mostly, because Carson Daly actually isn’t a raging homophobe with a history of anti-gay animus. Less than a year ago, he was talking up the show he hosts, The Voice, as being gay-friendly, unlike it’s better known alternative. And his response to the brouhaha is telling.

Running Daly’s comment through my matix, here’s what I find: it is true (like it or not) that – in general – a plane full of security officers and a plane full of gay men are likely to have different responses to a crazy pilot. Also, based on comments before and since, I don’t think that the joke was malicious.

But the third criteria is tougher. Clearly, Daly hasn’t earned the right to mock the gay community. He’s not an out gay man, he doesn’t primarily socialize in the community, his hasn’t made a point of advocating for our community. He isn’t “us”. So Daly doesn’t get to make jokes based on gay stereotypes.

Rightly, GLAAD called him on it; stereotypes can be damaging if they go unchallenged. And the best response was from the mother of Mark Bingham, the gay man generally credited for leading the passengers to bring down Flight 93 on 9/11/01, thereby by saving either the White House or the Capitol Building. In fact, it may be Bingham’s example that has led to passengers being proactive recently in mid-air incidents.

Daly immediately apologized. And met with GLAAD. And apologized again. And I accept his apology and fine, it’s over.

And if you look more closely at his comments, and you take into consideration his age, occupation, and that he was raised in Santa Monica, there’s a pretty good chance that Daly thought that he was talking about “us” when he said that he’d probably be on the gay plane not the security plane. So I’ll cut him a little slack.

But not everyone agrees. Currently 63% of Huffpost Gay Voices respondents to the poll question “Is an apology a sufficient enough response when someone makes an anti-LGBT joke or remark?” are saying “no.”

And it got me thinking about why. Why is it that a thoughtless joke made by someone who supports our community and our rights requires some great public lamentation and self flagellation? Why the fury and the denunciations?

And I think I may have an inkling. We don’t know how to respond to “yes”.

For decades we have come before politicians and religious leaders and corporate leaders and Aunt Thelma and expressed our grievances and made our demands only to have reluctant, at best, response. We’ve been smilingly told that while they hear us, they do have to consider the views of others. And that they’ll form a committee to carefully look at the issue and issue some unidentifiable response in some unspecified future and they are so glad we brought this to their attention, there’s the door.

We don’t know how to respond to “Oh, dude, yeah I can see that was offensive but I wasn’t trying to dis you, man, and I’m really sorry.” That’s still new to us.

But the good news is that we had better learn.

Ramin Setoodeh wrote something again

Timothy Kincaid

January 3rd, 2011

Newsweek’s Ramin Setoodeh has run another article about how openly gay men do not make good actors, or something. Basically its a riff on his last ‘no one wants to watch a gay actor‘ article, this time with a ‘blame the studios and the straight actors’ twist.

It’s been nearly eight months since anyone noticed Setoodeh’s existence, and this was what got him the most attention, so he went with a rewrite. Read Setoodeh’s opinion piece if you like, but it really isn’t worth the two paragraphs I’m giving it. I guess I should be content that at least this time he isn’t defending neo-Nazi murderers of gay children.

Ramin Setoodeh is back with another astonishingly stupid column

Timothy Kincaid

April 27th, 2010

It appears that Newsweek’s Ramin Setoodeh is so insecure in his own sexuality that he is compelled to fall all over himself in his effort to give ammunition to our enemies. Like a dog trained to expect a kick, he never fails in his ability to point out his suspicions about the flaws, failings, and inabilities of gay people.

Setoodeh was the entertainment reporter who went to Oxnard to cover the cold-blooded murder of gay teenager Larry King and instead ran a hit-piece arguing that it was all King’s fault. His murderer, Brandon McInerney, was a sensitive and “smart”, but “troubled”, boy who had been harassed and taunted by King who “flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon.”

That was, of course, before it was discovered that McInerney had white supremest connections and neo-Nazi beliefs.

In May of last year, Setoodeh predicted that Adam Lambert wouldn’t get into the finals because Christians wouldn’t vote for him. Then in November he wondered whether gay rights were being set back by gay characters on TV such as Kurt on Glee or Marc on Ugly Betty who “stand apart” too much (“if you want to be invited to someone else’s party, sometimes you have to dress the part”)

Well, Setoodeh is back with another column of poorly-contrived speculation presented as thoughtful commentary. And, as usual, while it is dressed up in the pretenses of liberal concern, at heart it’s just an excuse to denigrate gay people.

This time Setoodeh is lamenting the difficulties that gay actors have in getting straight roles, and he’s identified the problem. It’s not that studio execs are leery of hiring them or that straight audiences won’t watch gay actors. No, it’s that gay actors aren’t convincing.

To prove that gay men just can help being big ol’ nelly queens that could never be believable as straight, he brings us two examples. (Gay women are only believable “before” they are gay.)

First, the “real problem” with Promises, Promises is that it stared Sean Hayes, better known as Jack on Will and Grace.

But frankly, it’s weird seeing Hayes play straight. He comes off as wooden and insincere, like he’s trying to hide something, which of course he is. Even the play’s most hilarious scene, when Chuck tries to pick up a drunk woman at a bar, devolves into unintentional camp. Is it funny because of all the ’60s-era one-liners, or because the woman is so drunk (and clueless) that she agrees to go home with a guy we all know is gay?

And having Jonathan Groff playing a straight role in Glee just destroys that show’s gritty reality and believability.

on TV, as the shifty glee captain from another school who steals Rachel’s heart, there’s something about his performance that feels off. In half his scenes, he scowls—is that a substitute for being straight? When he smiles or giggles, he seems more like your average theater queen, a better romantic match for Kurt than Rachel. It doesn’t help that he tried to bed his girlfriend while singing (and writhing to) Madonna’s Like a Virgin.

To Ramin Setoodeh, it’s just a sad, sad, lamentable (but undeniable) fact that gay actors should be relegated to the hairdresser and prison guard roles. And besides, those roles don’t challenge Setoodeh’s own comfort level.