Saturday, January 21, 2006

Fake tolerance

I was reading the 'Rants & Raves' column in my local paper today. Like it sounds, it's an open forum for readers to send in short statements about stuff that gets them going. I found the following comment interesting and infuriating.

This is regarding Wednesday night's American Idol episode, where the last contestant was a cross-dresser... While I respect everyone's right to choose their lifestyle, I deeply resent that my 10-year-old son had to witness that particular ratings stunt. As a parent, I want to choose the time to tell my son about alternative lifestyles. Unfortunately, I had no choice but to answer questions that he should not have to ask at this age...This is supposed to be a family show - one this family won't watch again.


Now, I didn't see the show, so I don't know what the cross-dresser in question looked or acted like. I don't know if this was just a guy in drag like a Ru Paul type or an actual transvestite, though I would guess the former. I think it's safe to assume that the author believes that the contestant was gay (I would be surprised if he knew about the various distinctions in sexual identity). A couple of things about this rant piss me off.

First the author says he respects everyone's right to choose their lifestyle. The choice of words tips you off right away. Using the words choice and lifestyle in this context is always negative. He means that it's ok with him as long as these freaks never crawl out of their holes and bother normal people like him and his normal family.

Second, let's pretend that he was telling the truth and that he really does respect people's choices. But he's upset that he has to expose his 10-year-old son to this 'lifestyle'. His implication is that there's something dirty and shameful about people who aren't mainstream heterosexuals. As if the very act of being who they are is somehow sexual, like public lewdness or something. I don't think it's a stretch to say that he would consider anything other than good old-fashioned straight people to be too risque for family entertainment. Especially if one guy wearing a dress gets him so bent out of shape that he feels the need to write his local paper.

Last, what is he trying to protect his 10-year-old from? I have 2 kids, 10 and 6. In my experience, you don't do anyone any favors, especially the kids when you try to keep the world out. Keeping them from knowing that gay people exist is not protecting their innocence. Kids don't have some sort of right to be free from knowledge. He makes it sound like they showed a live blow-job and he had to explain oral sex to his son. It was just a guy in a dress - thank goodness it wasn't a bare nipple, or the shit might have really hit the fan.

I hate this sort of fake tolerance. He says he respects people, but then goes on to prove that he doesn't. Respect and tolerance both require acceptance and compassion. I think it's important to call people on this kind of bullshit. We've come a long way as a society in the last 50 or so years, but there's still a long way to go until we achieve true respect and compassion for people of every stripe.

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21 comments:

Christiana said...

I didn't see it either, but the description I heard was that the contestant wasn't wearing a "dress" but definitely blurred the line between "effeminate" and "feminine."

That said, agreed 100% with your point. To some people, gay people, or people with other such "alternative lifestyles" are only allowed to exist as long as they are invisible.

manxome said...

So entertaining! I can't help myself:

This is regarding Wednesday night's American Idol episode, where the last contestant was a cross-dresser...

If you say so. I don't watch that. People who watch American Idol might know what you're referring to though. I'd suggest forums related to that, start by looking under "broadcast media" instead of "print media". Unless your real gripe is not with Fox at all, but...

While I respect everyone's right to choose their lifestyle,

... a warning to all those effeminite men out there lurking beyond your subdivision.

I deeply resent that my 10-year-old son had to witness that particular ratings stunt.

What was the stunt, What Not to Wear - Cross-Dressers Edition? Ever heard of glam rock? Wow. Music+costumes=50% of all musical acts ever. On a singing performance show, no less! Damn, where's Debby Boone when you need her?

As a parent,

'Cuz I was wondering what the excuse was going to be. Think of my kid so I don't have to!

I want to choose the time to tell my son about alternative lifestyles.

Yay! What's stopping you from doing that? Did the singing competition show trick you into watching a documentary on the Alternative Lifestyle(tm)? Or was it just that someone wore *eyeliner on stage?

Unfortunately, I had no choice but to answer questions that he should not have to ask at this age...

The question probably being, "Why is that dude wearing *eyeliner, ma?" which I'm sure could have been answered with, "Isn't it great that there are so many interesting looking people in the world? Thank goodness we can view it from the safety of our gated upper-middle-class-white-christian-conservative neighborhood!" or "You should see my Gary Glitter and 80s new wave album collections!"

Unless the question was more detailed, in which case the kid already knows, and you're pissed that it took American Idol for you to figure that out.

This is supposed to be a family show - one this family won't watch again.

Full House is a family show. American Idol is a brain-cell reduction show. Know the difference.

*heck if I know. Maybe he had ruffles on or something.

Comandante AgĂ­ said...

I saw the American Idol episode. That was not a cross-dresser! The contestant was an overly effeminate young man. That's it. He was a tall, skinny guy with long hair who wore a t-shirt and jeans. He was probably gay. But who cares?

This rant & rave moron doesn't even know what a cross-dresser is.

Chris Howard said...

I saw the American Idol episode. That was not a cross-dresser!...This rant & rave moron doesn't even know what a cross-dresser is.

Shit, that makes him even more pathetic.

What was the stunt, What Not to Wear - Cross-Dressers Edition? Ever heard of glam rock? Wow. Music+costumes=50% of all musical acts ever.

I was wondering the same thing myself. Maybe a show with wannabe rock stars is a little too much for this guy.

manxome said...

Chris, I think that it's perhaps parenting that's too much for this guy. Part of being a parent is to step up and answer questions age-appropriately when asked. Since he did a poor job of it, he wants to blame everyone but himself. I saw no mention of another parent around. I wonder if he thought that he wouldn't have to handle the hard questions as long as he just watched American Idol and Pimp My Ride with the kid.

Shakespeare's Sister said...

I saw the episode, too - and, aside from what Agi correctly noted, the truly pathetic part of this whole thing is that the episode hardly treated this kid's difference as something positive. The entire segment was used to poke fun at him; the judges were shocked that he was male (and, in truth, he was wearing a woman's shirt and shoes, though he was hardly a drag queen), he was a dreadful singer, he was convinced he was denied his ticket to Hollywood because he was different and not that he can't sing for shit, and went off on a dramatic rant about it (as is the wont of sixteen-year-olds), and was generally treated as a buffoon like most of the other contestants who are featured for reasons other than talent. So, it's not exactly as if this kid - or his gender-bending - was celebrated or endorsed. The person is quite literally complaining about his existence.

Meanwhile, as an interesting side note, as with every episode of Idol auditions, there are no small number of people who come in dressed in ridiculous outfits just to try to get on TV. One man was dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, but I suppose since he had a beard and hairy legs sticking out from under his skirt, and was clearly a straight dude just behaving moronically, even though he could quite literally have been described as a cross-dresser, that wasn't a problem. It was only the kid with the high voice and feminine mannerisms he was born with that piques such ire. Interesting.

John Howard said...

I never understood the "I want to choose when my kids see this or that" school of parenting. If that's your philosophy, turn off the fucking tv, lock your doors and leave the rest of us alone. there's a whole world out there, and your kids are going to see it. Get the fuck over it, already. This has nothing to do with it being on TV. If you truly respected that "choice" or "lifestyle", then how would you "explain it to your kids" if they just saw it out in public somewhere? Or are these people whose choices you respect supposed to hide from your kids, so you can wait until they turn 21 to teach them about the world? People need to stop looking for reasons to be offended.

Storm said...

You are right JRH we should no standards for TV but those agreed upon by you.

Having said that, we watch TV as a family and I or the wife maintain strict control over the remote waiting for inappropriate commercials.

However, I wound not have had a hissy fit like this guy/gal, I would simply had told my son this guy is a freak and frankly someone should have slapped his mom and dad.

It may not be tolerant and all but it is my right.

Storm said...

In short, I guess I agree why fake tolerance just call it what it is.

Daddy why is that guy dressed like a girl.

Because he likes hairy sweaty butts.

John Howard said...

Well, I applaud your ability to parent your own children, but I hope you're not seriously telling them that the only reason a man would dress like a woman is because he is gay, because that would just be spreading ignorance. But, you're right, it is your right.

Storm said...

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is a duck.

JRh are trying to tell us something about your taste in attire?

Storm said...

I almost forgot the cross dresser is also an idiot. He calls American Idol and America racist because he was rejected.

Paula said it was singing ability or lack there of. Based on his body language, Simon might have had deeper issues.

But the point is racism is prejudice based on race. I guess he is saying Paula and the other guy are racists because they are black and he was white.

John Howard said...

If you think implying that I'm gay and/or a crossdresser is going to get me upset, you're mistaken.

John Howard said...

I didn't see exactly what the guy said after, but I imagine he just wanted to get on TV anyway.

Even if he is an idiot, it doesn't mean that seeing him on TV is going to have an averse effect on someone's kid.

Storm said...

If you think implying that I'm gay and/or a crossdresser is going to get me upset, you're mistaken.

Lighten up get a sense of humor.

Too bad as your analysis might be different if you saw the whole clip.

Www.lemonzoo.com

We have gotten off topic slightly, the guy sucked and not because he is confused but because he can not sing. They had another one on TV tonight and you know what he did not claim racism and nobodt cared this guy tonight sucked too.

Let me blow your mind, perhaps it would have been better for Zac to let Idol assume he was female.

The problem with his act was the failure to provide a match between the expectations of the audience and what the performer was supplying. Zac wants the world to change for him and when he fails he calls us racist to which I have 6 words Elton John, Eligel Hunperdick, Michael Jackson (ok this doesnt know his race). You can be gay and succeed you just have to be good.

"adverse effect on someone's kid"
Some of us do not like the way gay lifestyle is being mainstreamed into the culture. I am sure you will saying I am a Nazi and taking away some sort of civil rights but we too have a right to protest the proliferation of gay ideals.

P.S. Simon also did not like the girl dressed like a stripper I guess she should claim racism too.

John Howard said...

Lighten up get a sense of humor.

As soon as you say something funny.

I don't care what the kid on American Idol claimed or what he said, the issue was about the guy who wrote a letter to the editor complaining about it. I don't really care what they show on American Idol, since I don't watch the show at all.

All you have to do to see the ridiculousness of your argument is to imagine someone saying "I don't like the way heterosexuality is being mainstreamed into our culture." You don't have to like it, there are gay people in the world and always will be. They are part of our culture, the only issue is whether we force them to pretend that they are not. Sure you have every right to object to it, but you're still wrong, and a bigot.

Storm said...

go ahead finish the sentence

...and your opinion should not be tolerated or voiced.

Lori said...

Hmm this topic is one of those that gets me all upset.
The parents that think the world is going to end if there child should happen to hear the word fuck need a lesson in what happens to isolated children when mommy and daddy are no longer around. Listen people, this world is what it is. If you think sitting with your remote in hand in case of a REAL life issue coming up on the tv is going to make your kids immune from "life" you are saddly mistaken.

John Howard said...

I'm all for your opinion being voiced, and I'm all for me telling you that you're wrong and a bigot, because you are. Say these things all you want, it only makes you look bad.

John Howard said...

Good point, lori. At some point, everyone has to live in the real world. It's a lot easier if it hasn't been completely hidden from them for 18 years.

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