Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Young and the Gayless -- and More

A round up of gay images on television and my reactions to same:

Apparently reacting to negative, homophobic outcries on various message boards The Young and the Restless has been virtually de-gayed.

First the character of Adam (Michael Muhney, left), who seemed to be shaping up as a closeted gay or bisexual character, has been [supposedly] turned completely straight. Listing his assorted sins, Adam told Sharon [his former sister-in-law, sort of] that he "seduced a gay man." [That would be the handsome Hispanic lawyer, Rafe. ] Now you can imagine my reaction if he said that to me, but poor, clueless Sharon accepted his words at face value, never wondering what on earth could drive any allegedly "straight" guy to have full-on sex -- in a bed, no less -- with another man. True, Adam felt he needed to have Rafe under his control, but surely there were other ways his devious mind could have come up with to do so. I don't expect soap opera writers, be they gay or straight, to think like a gay activist, but this is too much to swallow.

It is hardly coincidental that the "straightening" of Adam occurs at the same time more or less as the departure of what was supposed to be a major gay supporting character. That would be Phillip, played by openly gay actor Thomas Bierdz. Despite talk of a relationship developing between Phillip and Adam or Rafe, no such relationship ever materialized. Adam was straightened out, Phillip left Genoa City (where the soap takes place), and Rafe hasn't even been seen on the show in weeks. What's going on here? Does anybody need to ask?

What on earth was the point of bringing Phillip back from the dead after twenty years to have his storyline go nowhere? He managed to bond a bit with the son he hadn't seen for most of his life, but he had no romance, no particular gay identity, and no real storyline to speak of. Talk about a complete waste of time!

I've no doubt the powers-that-be at Y&A will claim that Adam was made totally straight because he is perceived as being quite evil, and could be perceived as a negative gay character. But with Rafe and Phillip to balance things out, it would not have been a serious problem. Y&A dropped the gay stuff because of complaints from some loud homophobic viewers. Frankly I think more of the fans of the show will stop watching not because of any gay carryings-on, but because the show offered star Eric Braden (who plays Adam's father, Victor Newman) such a lousy contract that he quit the show.

At least the young gay couple on As the World Turns are still being treated in a competent and positive fashion. They have their troubles, but in that way they're no different from any other couple on the program. On the other hand, The Young and the Restless is typical of a program that simply uses homosexuality for plot reasons without having the smarts or courage to really deal with the subject.

In the meantime, I can't quite figure what the hell was going on in AMC's mini-series The Prisoner, which was an update of a sixties British TV program. In this a man wakes up in a place called The Village which everyone claims is the be-all and end-all of the universe, even though he and other characters remember a former life and many other places in the big wide world. Openly gay actor Ian McKellen plays No. 2, the head of the Village. When gay characters were introduced in part two of the series, I thought it was a good sign that the program -- unlike so many others -- wasn't ignoring the existence of gays. I wasn't so much disturbed by the age difference between the two gay lovers but that the younger of the two was so young. Although the baby-faced actor playing the role is twenty in real life, I wasn't certain how old he was supposed to be in the series.

After awhile, this sub-plot turned into the Same Old Story. After the hero threatens the older man with blackmail unless he gives him key information, the younger man stabs his older lover to death. [In part three he suffocates his own mother].

But there's no sense complaining about the gay material, as the mini-series -- after a promising start -- turned into a deadly bore that no amount of sex, hetero or homo, or violence could save. After awhile I couldn't care less who was gay, who was dead, where the village was, or anything else about the story.

Moving on, I keep noticing odd remarks on the show Desperate Housewives, whose creator is openly gay. On one episode a big bearded character confronted a gay employee who was staring at one woman's rather flamboyant breasts. "I thought you were gay?" he asks the employee, who then proceeds to turn into a nervous nellie sissy boy so scared of the big butch man that he practically lisps "Totally gay -- Streisand, Garland gay" -- or words to that effect. In a later episode when the big-boobed gal is wearing a mannish suit, the same boss tells her she ought to watch what she's wearing because some other female employee [presumably a lesbian] wants to go bowling with her.
May I interject here that I have little respect for gay men who make "dyke" jokes. Have they fogotten that lesbians are gay people just like they are.

Now sometimes stereotypical humor -- told by gays to gays -- can be funny -- but while Desperate Housewives may have its gay fans, it's not exactly what I would call gay programming, being aired by ABC, not Logo. The "gay" humor on the show often comes off like fag jokes. It's not necessarily that the straight characters wouldn't make these remarks, but they're clearly meant to make the audience -- which is largely straight -- laugh at gays. The program added a gay couple last year, but they are rarely seen, have no major storyline, and will not add to anyone's knowledge of gay men or gay life.

But then, what can you expect from a show called Desperate Housewives?

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