Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Power of the Media?

America's Moral Downfall?
A certain douchebag politician who never had a chance in his recent bid for President, has managed to use the recent Supreme Court hearings in a truly pathetic attempt to somehow remain relevant. I won't deign to name this particularly loathsome Republican, but I'm not above linking to hilarious pictures and definitions of him. Anyway, yesterday, said D-bag came out and used something Joe Bidenhas previously praised to defame Marriage Equality, 'blaming' the 1998 sit-com "Will and Grace" for the demise of "traditional marriage." Talk about grasping at straws. I won't even get started about how "traditional marriage" has absolutely NOTHING to do with Christianity, since marriage pre-dates recorded history. But his comments got me wondering about how modern media has helped change minds about the LGBT people.

Truly, before "Will and Grace," there were very few positive portrayals of queer folk on TV. Yes, there was that trans character on "All in the Family." But Beverly was murdered in a later episode. Then Jody came along in "Soap," though as progressive as Billy Crystal's character was, he still wasn't portrayed in the most flattering of terms. Even the theatre and films of the time didn't help. The play (and subsequent movie) The Boys in the Band portrayed gay men as tortured, unhappy and unfulfilled. It wouldn't be until 1997, when comedienne Ellen DeGeneres came out both in person and on her show, that a gay character was portrayed in a truly positive light - and it very nearly destroyed her career. The following year saw the premiere of "Will and Grace," the story of a straight woman and her GBF. Often hilarious; occasionally subversive; loaded with double entendres and populated with relatable characters, "Will and Grace" introduced successful (if neurotic) gay characters to middle America.

Sure, so-called 'Queer Cinema' has been around since the 70's, it would be 2005 before a major studio released a film about gay love. Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain was the film we all hoped would open people's eyes. And while it was both a critical and financial success, it really didn't do much to help the cause. Of course, the unhappy ending didn't help. You're gay? Oh, then you'll either die at the hands of homophobic a-holes, or you'll end up alone for the rest of your life. Not very encouraging. And while Showtime successfully adapted the British series "Queer as Folk" into a gay, soft-core soap-opera (followed soon after by The L-Word), the audience for the show wasn't nearly as wide as a broadcast network show. Often naked Bear Richard Hatch may well have been the first winner of "Survivor," but that didn't actually sit well with Maude in Milwaukee.

Another 5 years would pass before there we saw a truly positive gay couple on ABC's "Modern Family." Once again, Middle America found itself with happy and loving gay men in their living rooms every week. 

Still, none of these films or shows were the first to bring up Same Sex Marriage. We have to go back to 1972 for that. Sociologist Alvin Toffler wrote the book Future Shock in 1970, and it was adapted into a 'documentary' (narrated by Orson Welles). I was 12 or 13 when I was first shown Future Shock in school, and I giggled along with my classmates at the scene where two men got married, even though I secretly hoped that such a thing might actually be possible. 

So I have to ask Frothy (who is only 3 years older than Uncle P), is "Will and Grace" truly the first time you got the idea that Same Sex Marriage was a possibility? Or were you so so horribly scarred by a screening of Future Shock, that you felt it your duty to prevent people who loved each other from sharing the same rights as other people who loved each other? I honestly wished I believed in hell, so I could tell him to go there, though it's nice to imagine him roasting in Dante's 8th Level forever.

From Ireland, comes a bit of media Frothy would probably lose his mind over:

More, anon.

No comments: