SyFy GayFail

I was going to post a HUGE piece about this, but since John C. Wright has already begun his own deeper exploration of the issue, following SyFy GayFail on his LJ blog, I won’t bother.

Instead, I’ll just toss these few pennies into the Thought Fountain.

THOUGHT: I’ve known and been friendly with too many gays to ever believe some of the nasty rubbish that gets said about them. Why don’t more people realize that gays are, by and large, not terribly different from straights, in most aspects that matter? Lack of exposure, probably. And some people are just haters.

THOUGHT: Is SyFy being a hater because SyFy doesn’t put lots of positive gay characters into its various television programs? I don’t think so. But I understand that for most gays, neutral non-action is almost as bad as negative action, such that you have to take positive action to prove you’re not just a silent accomplice of homophobia.

THOUGHT: Some gays don’t realize that SyFy has to pay attention to ratings. If SyFy pisses off too many in the audience — by being too aggressive with insertion of too many gay characters and/or scenarios, which upset the straight viewing audience — then ratings go down, taking ad revenue with it, and suddenly SyFy is in financial peril. Taking a stand for social justice is one thing. Just don’t expect SyFy to fall on its sword for you.

THOUGHT: Many gays just flat don’t get it that you can see the homosexual act as a sin, or morally wrong, and this doesn’t automatically make you a hater or a homophobe. Many people are opposed to seeing homosexuality on TV for religious and moral reasons, not because they’re monsters. Many of these same people are opposed to lots of other stuff on TV, too. Beyond homosexuality. So it’s not personal.

THOUGHT: We’ll probably never have enough of a % of gay-positive programming on SyFy that satisfies the militant sub-community within the larger gay community. Ergo, all-gay all the time. So SyFy would do best to aim for the moderate gay audience, with successively more gay-positive characters/shows that don’t scream, SYFY IS TOTALLY GOING GAY!!

THOUGHT: SyFy should probably also ignore the militant anti-gays, for whom even a sliver of gayness is TOO MUCH GAY and suddenly it’s the end of all things and the world is going to end in five minutes because some TV show showed two dudes kissing. Or something. Maybe SyFy can arrange to get all the militant homophobes and all the militant gays together in a UFC ring? I’d watch that!

THOUGHT: if it’s erosion of moral fiber within the entertainment industry we’re concerned about, it’s worth noting that baby got thrown out with the bathwater a long time ago. Rampant glorification of fornication and adultery? Check. Rampant glorification of drugs, smoking and alcohol? Check. Rampant glorification of murder, profanity and violence? Check. Maybe when we’ve redressed all these problems first, then we can tackle Teh Gay Problim.

THOUGHT: Even if SyFy starts putting more Gay in its program schedule, I probably still won’t watch it, because 95% of SyFy’s original programming is garbage regardless. Which sucks, because I want to like SyFy, out of genre solidarity. And they did do BSG, which rocked. But come on, some of these original shows and special movies are just flat-out bad. I wouldn’t make my dogs watch them.

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6 thoughts on “SyFy GayFail

  1. Thanks Jordan! Interesting to read this, given John’s original post.

    I noticed John took down the post, and now there is a lot of explaining happening at John’s LJ page.

    I said in different comments that I can sort of see it from both sides. I do think John Wright’s original commentary was pretty over-the-top inflammatory. But then, the reaction to his commentary was also over-the-top inflammatory.

    I think a lot of people behaved very badly on both sides. John Wright, to his credit, appears to be following his conscience and is trying to do what he considers to be the moral thing, even if he’s embarrassed as a result.

    I respect that.

    But I can also respect the opinions of gays and gay activists who took offense with John’s post. Those who responded reasonably, should be lauded. It takes a lot of self-control to respond in an event-handed, constructive manner when you’re angry.

    The others who dogpiled John and turned it into a typical LiveJournal Flashmob lynching, should be ashamed. That’s not constructive. That’s not utilizing a Teaching Moment. That’s just looking for an excuse to be an asshole to someone.

    JMHO.

  2. Wow, Brad, maybe you didn’t read that original post, but it was positively scary. I think he reaped what he sowed. He should have been brought to task for that post, then same way that if a gay person wrote a bigoted, half-filled rant should also be taken to task.

  3. I read the whole thing, before he took it down.

    Halfway through it, I knew he was going to get savaged. He was practically begging for it.

    You can’t write anything like that, about homosexuals and homosexuality, and be in the SF and F community, and not expect word to get out and have the mob arrive at your door, pitch forks and torches in hand.

    Where I sympathize with John is not in his views about homosexuality per se, but in that he bemoans the fact that the arbiters of correctness in 21st century society do seem to operate on principles that are polar opposite to what they were a few generations ago.

    Ergo, much that was once considered right, is now wrong. Much that was once wrong, is now right. The world has flip-flopped, and those of us in more traditional religious communities can see this all the time — especially in the media.

    All the same, I could not, in conscience, say I agreed with how Wright characterized homosexuals and repeatedly compared them to pedophiles and so forth. That seemed unnecessary IMHO. If he’d just stuck to the original gripe — that media and television too often glorify that which is considered sinful by traditional Christian belief — I don’t think John would have gotten nearly as much rug burn.

    As it is, he went snarky. He made it almost personal, like he had a serious personal beef with every homosexual or something.

    And of course, when word got out, it was like a firestorm.

  4. Brad, hon, you know I adore you but I’m going to have to strongly disagree with you on this one.

    “Some gays don’t realize that SyFy has to pay attention to ratings. If SyFy pisses off too many in the audience — by being too aggressive with insertion of too many gay characters and/or scenarios, which upset the straight viewing audience — then ratings go down, taking ad revenue with it, and suddenly SyFy is in financial peril. Taking a stand for social justice is one thing. Just don’t expect SyFy to fall on its sword for you.”

    Ummmm. No. This is the same argument that gets made all the time when it comes to POCs being represented or having their stories told. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that a little show called Star Trek caught flack and controversy because of the POC female. And today it’s considered by many to be trailblazing for it’s time. Which by the way, you should read this post:

    http://rawles.livejournal.com/340736.html

    This same tired argument is the reason why movies like Avatar is being whitewashed because of the “OH EM EFFIN GEEE, WILL SOMEONE PLEEEEEEEEEESE THINK OF THE HETEROSEXUAL WHITE PEEPUL?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    Furthermore this argument is bunk because the record has already proven that fans are more than receptive to LGBT characters and stories. Xena, Willow and Tara from Buffy and Jack Harkness from Torchwood. All hit shows which featured gay characters. Torchwood is an international hit 3 seasons strong and has done far better than legions of other all-straight shows.

    The only way things will ever change is for people to take a stand and for networks to step up. Yeah they’ll piss off a few viewers but they’ll gain far more press and support from a loyal audience.

    I’m not asking for all gay all the time. i don’t think anyone (of reasonable intelligence is). I just want my stories and experiences told too. Because television and movies go a long way towards debunking the rampant homophobia in this world. When they see that we’re human just like they are, they won’t be as likely to fear and hate us.

    Look, I get that. Religion has never really been my thing but Jesus is all right with me. It’s his disciples I’ve got beef with. Which brings me to my next point, speaking of homophobia and the uber bigots. John C. Wright.

    What he said went beyond religious beliefs. I’ve dealt with Christians who may not have understood my sexuality or thought it was wrong but still treated me with love and respect and wouldn’t have dared said the things he said. That shit was just hateful. I mean he gave Fred Phelps a run for his money.

    Let’s just say his issue with homosexuality was strictly based in religious dogma. Didn’t Jesus say something about let he who is without sin cast the first stone? So who in the hell is he to call me a pervert just because I’m able to love God’s creatures no matter the gender. Being bisexual is not a choice or a lifestyle anymore than being a woman is or a heterosexual.

    And Wright knows where he can shove his apology. I would’ve been willing to cut him some slack and write him off to being another religious zealot, if it wasn’t for that passive aggressive aversive insults he continued to make by calling us sodomites and pervertarians.

    Maybe the folks on the comment forums acted inappropriately. I don’t know. I was too disgusted to read the message board, much less comment.

    But I will say this, it’s people like him, Phelps, Sally Kern and others are the reason why LGBTs have to live in fear less we be met with violence. They spew this hatred to their children or some other impressionable mind, and inevitably, someone takes it a step further and decides to do “God’s work” by “eradicating sin.”

    I had to deal with guys like him in high school. Guys who constantly harassed me and tried to make my life a living hell. And I had to look over my shoulder because not only did they think I was a pervert and confused but that all I needed to be cured was some good dick from a “real man” which they would’ve been happy to supply for my own good, whether I wanted it or not.

    You see where I’m going with this?

    While I’m all for forgiveness and giving people the benefit of the doubt, hopefully you can understand why this particular issue is a hot button one for me.

  5. Of course I understand. And I anticipated that you’d have some comments on this, so thank you for contributing.

    Without question, one of the harder things for me — as a self-identified follower of the Christ — is seeing the kind of violence and hatred that is perpetrated against gays, done in the name of Jesus. Or God. Or scripture. Or whatever. To my mind, that’s no better than Islamic fundamentalism. I do not believe God gives any person license to abuse another person over sin. Each of us as a child of God — I am riffing churchy here, so hang with me — has free agency. Each of us must be allowed to exercise that free agency, regardless of the choices we make which might — in the perception of the churchy — be contrary to God’s will.

    I sympathize with Wright’s perception that television and the entertainment industry have become an amoral sewer. From a churchy standpoint, they are an amoral sewer.

    Where I had to step back and say, whoa, no thanks, I don’t want any, is when he began comparing gays to perverts, and employing a lot of very harsh, very personal invective against gays. As soon as he did that, I experienced a disconnect with his view, and I sort of feel like he reaped what he sewed at that stage.

    Now, back to SyFy and featuring more GLBT characters….

    You might be right, in that the viewership is long past ready to embrace mainstreamed GLBT content, and the network suits are just being nervous nellies. There has been a lot of programming on the pay cable channels lately which absolutely supports your assertion. And I’m not talking Queer as Folk or The L Word as much as I am talking shows like Six Feet Under. That show had a large straight fan base and was not explicitly about homosexuality, but rather simply included a primary character who happened to be gay and had gay relationships.

    SIDE NOTE: you mentioned Xena, which reminds me that straight guys are seldom threatened by lesbianism in the same manner they’re threatened by male homosexuality. Male homosexuality is always a tougher sell with straight males than lesbianism, which might explain why Xena didn’t generate much of a negative reaction from straight male viewers. Now, if Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules had had a boyfriend…. Different story. Just because straight males tend to be weird that way.

    SIDE SIDE NOTE: I also think that portraying gays on TV has an added layer of complexity, compared to portraying PoC, if only because there are still so many people — good people, mind you, not all homophobes or haters — who consider homosexuality sinful and who won’t be receptive to gay portrayals in the same way they’d be receptive to PoC portrayals. Here again I might not be giving the viewers enough credit? I dunno.

    I think we’re agreed that there is a huge misperception about GLBT and that the media can play a role in dispelling myths and making people aware that gays are not monsters. Can SyFy be a pioneer in this? They’ll have to play catch-up with Sho Time, HBO, and so forth, who have already been taking trips to the “closet” since the 90’s.

    One final word, about Wright. He said a lot of pretty mean stuff, and if he’d not recanted I would not expect you or any other GLBT person to cut him any slack. However, he does seem to have recanted? Or is at leeast in the process of recanting? Maybe what Wright needs at this point are a few brave GLBT who are willing to reach out and dialogue? I am not saying that has to be you. I just hate to see Wright made into an Unperson when he appears to be expressing true regret over the language and ad hominem invective he employed.

    Again, I’m not defending what he said, rather I’m hoping that he hasn’t so thoroughly burnt the bridge that it’s irreperable. Maybe if a few GLBT can dialogue with him in his moment of shame and humility, that will help open his heart to a more Christ-like understanding of the gay community?

    I know, I know, that’s pretty poofy talk. I’m purely speculating at this point.

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