or “All the gay stuff I haven’t written about for the last two weeks”
or “How to be gay and annoy me”
Beautiful Atrocities had this column of advice for newly minted gay men linked under “Outside Reading” this past week. Most of it is pretty sound underneath the inevitable tone of snark (and be warned that some of it’s on the raunchy side). It’s also, unlike a lot of attempts to be funny, actually funny. Item #1 made me laugh out loud.
However, item #14 nettled me. It’s not so much that it’s bad advice as that it scornfully hits an easy target but leaves out the flip side, which I think affects far more people:
14. Beauty fades. Develop some inner resources, otherwise when it goes, those of us with less far to fall will laugh at you. To your aging face.
Fine. Point taken. But newly out guys also need it drummed into their heads that…
14.1. Don’t assume that someone you think is unusually hot must therefore be (1) a bitch, (2) a slut, (3) a moron, and (4) a shallow user.
14.2. Plenty of men who will never be models or CEOs are in happy relationships. You can be one of them if you look for ways to be generous and stop expecting The Love You Deserve to ambush you while you lean expectantly against the bar.
For every gorgeous, turned-out man who thinks he’s some kind of Gay Brahmin, there’s a fag who sabotages his own potential regular-guy attractiveness by constantly drawing attention to the fact that he’s not Jude Law. Humility can be sexy; self-humiliation is a turn-off.
Not all stereotyping is quite so damaging. At least, I don’t think so, though people have too much time on their hands apparently disagree:
Some gay rights advocates are raising questions about a new Chrysler commercial that features a fairy who uses her wand to turn a tough-looking guy with a big dog into a pastel-clad man walking four small dogs on pink leashes.
DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group introduced the “Anything but Cute” ad campaign last month to promote the new Dodge Caliber compact car, aimed at young buyers.
The Commercial Closet, which monitors marketing tactics that could be offensive to gays and lesbians, was more critical of the ad [than the mewling executive director of the Triangle Foundation, cited earlier].
“It directly finds humor with the term fairy, referring not just to the type that flies around with a magic wand, but also the universally recognizable gay stereotype of an effeminate gay man,” it said in an online review of the ad.
I’m afraid I’d make a very bad gay activist, because there is no way in hell I could make a public statement that solemnly and carefully differentiates between a fairy “that flies around with a magic wand” and a gay guy without dissolving into laughter.
Of course, we want to get rid of the stereotype that gay guys are all girlie, emotionally fragile, flighty, and limp-wristed. Permit me to point out, though, that advertising spots are not the place to expect sophisticated commentary that challenges preconceptions. (There are plenty of ads that end in unexpected revelations as a way of providing a jolt that might make the product memorable, but they usually don’t constitute social science lessons.) Steve Miller at IGF posts a link to the ads.
We’re supposed to bloviate over that? I was more offended by the guy’s post-spell walking-shorts-and-socks combo than anything else. That fairy needs to get herself a fag friend to teach her about style, cute or otherwise.
And people need to learn how commercials work. Television is populated by dads who are amazed to find out that you can clean clothes with detergent, black women who have clearly been directed to turn the sassy-chick-erator all the way up, Italians who can’t say a word without windmilling their arms, and people whose persnicketiness is signaled by British accents. Sometimes these types are used skillfully, and sometimes they’re used poorly; but ads generally have to rely on stock characters because they have an extremely short amount of time to make an impression. It’s certainly possible to imagine an advertisement that implies something genuinely offensive, but I don’t see how showing some dumb jock type get turned into an dorky metrosexual necessarily does, even if he’s supposedly being punished for saying “Silly fairy!” to a fairy.
Speaking of silly–or at least muddled–fairies: Last week, Rondi Adamson posted about the release of Canadian Christian peace activist James Loney, who had been abducted in Iraq. Loney’s family and friends scrupulously avoided mentioning his homosexuality while he was in the hands of his abductors:
I remain puzzled that a gay man like James Loney would, de facto, have aligned himself with people who would see his sexual orientation as sufficient reason to kill him.
One of Loney’s CPT colleagues, Doug Pritchard, seems to have a case of both [mental-midgetitis and irony deficiency]:
“It’s a sad fact that around the world gays and lesbians are more vulnerable to attack than straights,” Pritchard said.
Hmm. Yeah. Particularly under Islamist fascist regimes, Doug.
No kidding. I don’t think this is the first time Rondi has expressed (perfectly understandable) puzzlement about gays who give a free pass to the Palestinians and other aggrieved groups whose anti-homosexuality is so extreme as actually to warrant the overused word oppression. The article doesn’t mention whether Pritchard is gay, but his attitude is pretty representative of the basic problem. His statement isn’t inaccurate taken as a self-contained thought. But that “around the world,” which runs the entire world together into one, big vaguely threatening place, is bizarre given that the context for the remark is that contrast between Islamofascists in Iraq, among whom revealing your homosexuality could lead to mistreatment or worse, and Canada, where you can talk about it to the press. (One of Loney’s fellow abductees was murdered.)
[Aside: Martha Stewart just explained to viewers that when the shrimp turn opaque that means they are “not transparent.” Has the educational system deteriorated that much?]
Unlike a car commercial, the public spotlight that comes with having your gay colleague released by terrorist kidnappers seems to me like the perfect opportunity to make a social and political argument: Thank God he’s back here in the democratic West, where we value personal liberty and the ability to live peaceably with our differences. After all, these people are supposed to be looking for ways to espouse Christian Peace, are they not? Perhaps even the mention of bloodthirstiness, however germane to the situation at hand, would have seemed off message.
“It’s very frustrating. Chinese people don’t just run restaurants. Lots of them do great jobs like lawyers. It’s scarily backward in the UK. In the US, Lucy Liu was in Charlie’s Angels not because of her ‘Chinese-ness’ but because she was right for the role.”
Tell that to the more oversensitive Asian-American activists, honey. Anyway, what I found interesting was this part:
The filmmaker said Hong Kong is the most liberated Asian country, “Racism exists on the international gay scene. Chinese gay men have a low ranking in the gay hierarchy because they don’t fulfil the classical male beauty.”
“I know some Asians who have switched to dating Asians.”
Because there aren’t enough Western gay men who are looking for smooth little Asian hotties?! That’s a demographic development I hadn’t been aware of, though I admit to not being all that familiar with the scene in Hong Kong. The tendency for some Westerners to want their Asian boyfriends to act like man-geisha does strike me as a problem, but that doesn’t appear to be what Yeung is talking about. In any case, he seems to be able to point out what he thinks are problems without taking a whiny tone, which is always good to see. If his movie is the same, I hope it does well.