Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Some People Just Don't Get It

Boston Legal craps out.

On tonight's episode of Boston Legal -- the series finale, and not a moment too soon -- two heterosexual male characters, Denny (William Shatner) and Alan (James Spada) get married.

Anybody really feel like watching this storyline considering what happened with Proposition 8 and so on?

Boston Legal has had a few pro-gay episodes in the past, but this one -- written by the producer David E. Kelley (pictured) comes off as something cobbled together by a liberal -- who like many liberals -- just doesn't get it when it comes to gays.

Frankly I'm sick of shows and movies that try to equate the platonic love between two heterosexual men with the romantic love between two gay men. [And yes, I do understand that Kelley was in part underlining the irony that the most significant relationship these two skirt-chasing heteros had was actually with each other.] I have lots of friends -- gay and straight, male and female, but for now let's stick with gay men -- whom I love and care about very much, but I would never consider marrying them. I have experienced romantic love and passion and know that it is very different from the love of platonic friendship. Non-romantic love, especially between a parent and child, can certainly run very deep, but it is a different experience altogether from romantic passion.

On the show Alan argues before a judge and snippily debates a gay activist who, rightly, finds the idea of these two straight guys getting married to be offensive, making a complete mockery of what marriage equality -- emphasis on equality -- is all about. Alan insists that having sex is not always a deciding factor in marriage, and that many people marry individuals that they do not love in the romantic sense. The judge adds that homosexuals often marry heterosexuals in passionless relationships, and sometimes gay men marry lesbians. "You wouldn't want the government telling them they couldn't do that, would you?' she asks the activist.

Of course this sentiment completely misses the point that the whole emphasis of gay liberation (including marriage equality) is to remove the stigma and shame that is still attached to being gay for those very people who wind up in those sham "mixed" marriages. Besides, even in cases such as those -- as well as cases where one person marries another for, say, financial gain -- at least one party has some romantic feelings for the other (for instance the straight wife of a husband whom she doesn't realize is secretly homosexual). In the case of Denny and Alan, neither party feels any romantic attachment to the other. But hey, they love each other, Kelley seems to say, so they're just a gay couple without the sex.


To be fair, Boston Legal is all about being irreverent, and the show has been playing up the brotherly love between the two men for quite some time now. They have had sexless sleepovers, for instance. Perhaps we're supposed to see these fellows as being so cool and secure that they can get married and have no problem with it, but it's hard to forget that Denny is a Republican who in one episode referred to a character as a "faggot, a total faggot." As is often the case with Boston Legal, the whole situation is completely contrived anyway. Denny wants the younger Alan to get his money, and could simply leave it to him in a will, but even the judge observes that a marriage will give them certain tax benefits. Chuck and Larry anyone?

So this is a mockery and nothing more. Even the supposedly more liberal Alan doesn't seem to understand what he's doing wrong. The gay activist says -- and the judge agrees (although she allows the marriage to take place) -- that this will only open the door to the kinds of excesses and stupidities predicted by the religious right. [Let me make it clear that gay marriage opponents argue that if gays can get married simply because they love each other, then why can't, say, a sister and brother, or mother and son, get married as well because, after all, they love each other too. Yes, they are that stupid.]

Gay marriage equality is being compared to the fight against interracial marriage years ago. One can't imagine Alan -- or David E. Kelley -- arguing during that period that if a white and black person could marry one another then two white male friends should be able to get married, too, because, well, love is love.

Yes, some people don't marry for love. And yes, there are sexless marriages. But I can bet that the vast majority of gay couples who line up in Massachusetts and hoped to line up in California to get married did feel romantic passion for each other and that most of them had a fulfilling sex life as well.

To say that the "love" between these two silly guys Alan and Denny (they chase after women so relentlessly and indeed pathetically at times that they come off like Don Juan homosexuals, but Kelley never had the guts to go into that) is similar to the romantic love between two gay men, two lesbians, or indeed a straight man and woman, is ludicrous. Besides, after what happened in California and elsewhere, who the hell wants to see a show where two straight guys get married when millions of gay people who truly love each other can't?

When it comes to gays, some people just don't get it and probably never will.

How sad that this sometimes applies to the purportedly gay-friendly as well as to the bigots.