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Take Me Now, Sweet Idiot Box!

2003-08-29 - 10:28 a.m.

Yesterday, I was in a snit. I love that word. It really describes the feeling well, where there are lots of little aggravating things that bug you which make you feel totally bugged out which means that things that wouldn't normally bug you begin to bug you to a ridiculous degree which begins a vicious cycle of buggin' that eventually makes your nose feel like it wants to screw itself into a weird knotty curly shape and stay there in defiance of all biological probability. That, ladies, gentlemen, and the transgendered of all ages, is what I call a snit.

So I go to my Dad's house because it has a TV and mine doesn't because 1) I don't want to pay for cable and 2) I want my apartment to be the place where I get shit done, be it reading, writing, or 'rithmetic (like I do math, ever). Of course, my snit continued when I was informed that I must get myself right back in the car (this just as I was about to boil water for a pastalicious dinner) to pick my stepsister up from school. To make matters worse, just as I'm pulling up to the school I am informed that her mother has already retrieved her, and I had planned a mini-bonding session as said stepsister was in BIG TROUBLE for not phoning home and being where she was supposed to be. I figured something along the lines of driving her to Sonic and buying her a slushy, telling her to just nod and look repentent for her mom and my dad, and then to be more careful not to get caught next time, but it was all for not. So I miss the Simpsons but finally go upstairs to catch up on the night of gay television that I missed on Tuesday, only to find that Bravo, a channel formerly known as "The Film and Arts Network" was showing, as its evening film, "Twister."

That's right, "Twister." The tornado movie. With Helen Hunt, and Bill Paxton. Ridiculous acting, ridiculous premise, ridiculous special effects. Why oh why did NBC have to buy this channel? Will I ever see a musical or foreign film on it again?

So, I had to resort to other channels. And I found some things that got me out of my snit, which I will not address in chronological order.

At one point in the evening, I was watching Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, which proves that the Japanese have it DOWN when it comes to programming so absurd that you can't possibly turn away. First, Iron Chef. Now, a show that I can barely even describe. From what I can tell, two very large teams compete in physical challenges that were designed by a group of 14 year olds from Hoboken who must have watched a Cartoon Network anime marathon after finding and smoking their older siblings' pot. On top of that, the show is dubbed over in such a way as to bear no resemblance whatsoever to the original show, down to giving the players absurd names like Tamela Lee and Tony Baba Ghanoush. It sounds, and kinda is, very un-PC and more juvenile than The Man Show could ever hope to be. It is, essentially, a Japanese version of American Gladiators on crack.

It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen in my life.

I think what makes the show is that all of these contestants are so happy to be performing the ridiculous tasks. They know it's fun, and so probably wouldn't care if what they're saying has been dubbed over. Then there's the cartoon violence factor, violence that you know isn't hurting anyone. Perhaps the funniest of the tasks is the Log Roll, where people run across spinning logs, and usually end up falling in the water beneath. They were helmets, it's fine. But the logs are so close that when they fall, they usually hit their head on one and their ass on the other, or wind up straddling a log on the way down. I watched this one woman do the head-butt fall routine, and then watched as the sequence was Zaprudered about five times. It could have gone on for twenty minutes, and by the end I would have given myself a hernia from laughing.

And what made it great was the woman getting up from the muddy water laughing her own ass off. It's now my dream for them to do a Most Extreme Elimination Challenge in the States, so I can be on it and fall on my ass at every turn. I'll be a star! A falling on my ass star!

So our first lesson of the evening was this: TV, while often silly and stupid, is sometimes so good at being silly and stupid that it takes you right out of your snit.

Our second lesson begins, well, okay, so Courage the Cowardly Dog wqas going to be on at 7:30, and I had a half hour to kill while I was eating my pasta, and, I don't know why, it just, I mean, maybe I was longing for my youth or something, but, well, might as well just come and say, but I can't, but, OKAY I WATCHED FRIENDS ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?!?!?!?!

It was more annoying than funny, I swear.

But the point is that I saw an advertisement for Coupling, the BBC knock-off that is meant to replace Friends on NBC. It was actually a clever add, in that the couples morphed in bed to indicate that the premise of the show is that everyone on it has slept together. However, I was surprised when the couples morphed into two women in bed, and even more surprised when they morphed into two men in bed. And it wasn't two people of the same sex just chatting in bed, either. It was clear that these were pre/post shag conversations, in that these people were saying "We just shagged, is that weird?" "Well, maybe, but it ain't gonna stop me from shagging you again."

My kinda people.

No, seriously, my kinda people. People who go with attraction without stopping and saying "Wait, but you're not the gender I usually date." Bisexual people. On a major network. That's trying to build this up as the new flagship show.

Wait a minute . . . could things really be that improved for sexual minorities?

At the end of the evening came my latest TV addiction, Queer Eye. In my entry on Why I Don't Date, I mentioned Queer Eye, but at the time I had just seen an episode and a half. Now, having seen a lot of them, I am completely in love with this show.

Speaking of in love, Ted Allen, aka the Culinary Queen (okay, so aka in my head), is my TV husband. Yes, I know he has a life partner of 10 years, but he just hasn't met me yet. He's dorky, which is a huge turn on for me, and he has this great sense of humor that involves throwing parsley like it's confetti and ripping into tomatoes like a wild-if-herbivorous animal (and don't think that didn't get me thinking some naughty, naughty thoughts). He will be mine. Oh yes, he will be mine.

In addition, Kyan Douglas, aka Facial Fairy, is my TV guy-on-the-side. Sure I'd feel bad about cheating on my Teddykins, but Kyan has this little twist of eeevil that would make things all the more spicy. I'd also do the world a service by making him stop that slight lip pout thing that makes him look freakish.

Afterwards, I would call my TV long-lost sistah, Jai Rodriguez, aka Superfluous Sodomite. Because, think about it, he has NOTHING to do on that show. Body language? Music choices? You don't need a fifth person for that, but it's okay because Jai is my long lost sistah. We're both Latino, and we do theatre. We will stay up for long hours talking about boys and doing one another's hair. Shut up, we WILL!

Carson Kressley, Fashion Fruit, is my TV bar buddy. He is by far the funniest on that show. I should write down the stuff he says. He's also soooo sweet, always giving the hugs, only occassionally using it as an excuse to feel a guy up. Yet he has that classic gay wit which would serve so well in a scathing comment smackdown, which is the gaybar version of a brawl. He'd have my back, and I'd have his.

Which leaves Thom Filicia, Houseware Homo. He . . . can decorate my home! Unless he puts beach-scene wallpaper in my bedroom, in which case I'll have to shoot him.

So yeah, all of these boys have earned my love and affection. They sweep into a house and turn straight boys from frogs into princes. They really make you understand that, while what's underneath the surface is what truly matters, no one's ever going to notice if you don't bring what's inside to the surface for everyone to see. It took another fabulous flamer, Oscar Wilde, to put it best: "Fashion is being yourself, but on purpose."

All the while, these guys do tremendous things for gay-straight relations. They treat the straight guys with a great deal of warmth and affection, giving hugs and teaching them that the proper response to a little hint of flirtation from another man is to be flattered. They make the guys feel better, and remind them that one of the reasons why they're getting this makeover is to attract--wait for it . . . WOMEN!!! And the women love what these guys do for their men. Watch wives see their husbands in a whole new light. Watch mothers look at their handsome sons with pride. Watch women realize that the guy who's been their "friend" all this time really needs to be a lot more than a friend, as soon as possible.

All this, because of gay men.

Kyan is the best of all these guys in terms of challenging the straight men in this moment. He usually asks the straight men why they feel that manicures or hair coloring is "gay." In one of the best moments, he and a cop stand together in their underwear while spray tan is applied. The cop says that this is embarrassing and uncomfortable. Kyan reminds him that the only gay thing about the experience is Kyan himself, and that the straight guy shouldn't feel the uncomfortable at all. When you do stuff to make yourself beautiful, and you look at yourself in the end and think you're hot, it doesn't make you gay. You're allowed to be turned on by yourself, no matter your gender or sexual preferences.

So, these guys are doing a lot to make straight men and the women who love them want gay men to be a part of their lives. And they are doing this by being themselves, being flaming and flirtatious and fun and fucking fabulous. I would love to hang out with these guys, to have them as friends or lovers. For the first time, I'm seeing gay guys that don't make me think "wow, what a cliche" or "that's not how gay men are" or, as happens most frequently, "okay, a lot of gay men are like that, but I'm not." They are vividly human, and that's what has made them the phenomenon of cable TV.

So, between Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and Coupling, and Sex and the City, and the pioneers before like Ellen and Will and Grace and even Rosie O'Donnell, gay people suddenly aren't criminals anymore, and if enough people watch these shows, get their minds changed, and vote, then maybe we'll even be able to get married and adopt children and not have to worry about discrimination in the work place. TV seems to have had a powerful effect on people. No wonder The Stupid Bully is so scared of us. If Coupling and Will and Grace become the headliners of Must See TV, and garner the ratings that Friends has, then we will have, in effect, taken over.

Hee hee hee.

So, okay, TV has its problems. There's heavily biased news reporting and tons of shows with conservative agendas and, in the end, loads of crap, and I include Friends and Will and Grace (but not Jack and Karen) in the list of crap. However, significant strides have been made on TV, sometimes before they were made in real life. I know that no one will ever agree on what constitutes a step forward on television. For every person who saw "The Cosby Show" as a triumph for demonstrating that a black family could also be upper middle class, there are those who denounce it as assimiliationist. And I know there are probably a lot of people who think that the Fab 5 doesn't represent them, and who worry that Coupling will amke people think that sexuality is a choice, and not an innate characteristic. There will be debates and arguments and denouncements and maybe a protest or two, because the same thing has happened whenever a minority is depicted on television.

But I turned off my TV last night thinking that I had come as close as I ever had to seeing an experience that mirrored my own. Hell, I can't even find a Latino queer in GAY media that isn't depicted as a stupid, evil slut, so thank god for Jai. And I know that somewhere, members of the religious right are pissed off, because somewhere else, people are thinking that they'd rather have Ted Allen over for dinner than Jerry Falwell.

And to Falwell, Stupid Bully, and the gang, I say, "Go jeuje yourself!"

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previous - next

The End - 2005-02-11
Let's Go on With the Show - 2005-01-30
The Curse, and This Bee's a Keeper - 2005-02-01
Sisters Lolita and Matronic Explain It All for You - 2005-01-31
Cowboys and Medievalists - 2005-01-30

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