Saturday, January 21, 2006
Golden Globes, etc
THE G-BLOCK. We tend not to pay too much attention to Brent Bozell's columns on entertainment. He's undoubtedly a good and smart man, but we've always had the feeling -- rightly or wrongly -- that in his ideal universe, movies and television would be reduced to an endless rerun of the old Wonderful World of Disney series. We really do like South Park, and despite the depressing scriptwriting trend exemplified by Deadwood and its wall-to-wall F-Words, we still think parents in control of the off-button is the preferred form of censorship. But every once in a while, Brent makes a point worth noting. Here's an excerpt from his current entry on the Golden Globes:
It’s become a cliche to note that the Golden Globe Awards voter pool is an extremely small clique for such a big-buzz awards show. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) boasts “about 90" members, many of them Europeans. But their influence over the Oscars, and then the culture, is enormous....
Look no further for the European sexual decadence than the movie acting categories. The best-actor contest for a drama was a neck-and-neck race between Heath Ledger, playing the gay sheepherder in “Brokeback Mountain,” and Philip Seymour Hoffman, playing the gay writer Truman Capote in “Capote.” The best-actress nod went to Felicity Huffman for playing a male-to-female transgendered person in “TransAmerica,” a film presently in nine – count ‘em, nine – theatres in these United States. Or should she be in the best actor category? Perhaps in the future, we’ll have a best Transgendered Performance category.
A delighted Michael Musto of the Village Voice summed it up on MSNBC: “It was gayer than an Ikea on Super Bowl Sunday.”
We don't object to the fact that there are dramas on the big and little screens about being gay. We object a little to the Big Lie perpetuated by gay people that they represent 10 percent of the population. That's a long discredited statistic culled from the laughably unscientific studies of Kinsey. The real number is about 1 1/2 percent, which is slightly higher than the percentage of the world's population that is Jewish.
It turns out that this is an interesting comparison to make. Jews have long played a dominant role in the mass media, having owned and developed much of the content for movies, television, and newspapers since their inception. They are also over-represented (versus their percentage of the population) in the performance professions, notably as actors and comedians. Exactly the same can be said of gay people, who are over-represented among the ranks of actors, dancers, set and costume designers, hairstylists, writers, and fine artists . Both Jews and homosexuals have been persecuted for centuries. It's hardly surprising that either group would occasionally call attention to its own experience of life, given that they have spent so much time reflecting and illuminating our -- to them -- alien lifestyles. Too, both groups have contributed substantially more to the cultural canon than their percentage of the population would seem to predict.
One can try to draw distinctions. For example, one could try to asseverate that Jews are not afflicted with a plague that kills them for acting on their Jewishness. But this argument does not hold up. Jews are routinely killed simply for being Jewish. Substitute Hamas for AIDS and you'll see what we mean.
So why would anyone object to the exceptional year in which gay people dominate the Golden Globes? Haven't they earned one year in which they can crow and parade their differentness?
Yes and no. There are differences between Jews and homosexuals. Unlike Christians, for example, Jews rarely proselytize. They accept their Jewishness and are proud of it, but they also know theirs is a club you can't join. You have to be born into it. The tremendous body of literature written by Jews about being Jewish is chiefly notable for its self-deprecation, self-doubt, and its humor. Scratch any Jew and you'll find someone who has at least wondered if life mightn't have been easier as a Methodist. Jews speak of the Jewish "lifestyle" only in terms of comedy, as a continuous joke that they have learned to appreciate and now want to share with others.
Psychologically, the exact same condition must predominate with homosexuals. But that's not what we see. Jews do not secretly believe that everyone else is Jewish at heart. Homosexuals, on the other hand, are -- and this is 1-1/2 percent of the population, remember -- convinced that everyone else is, in their heart of hearts, like them. There is a difference between pride and hubris. The hubris of homosexuals is their failure to fully understand that heterosexual tolerance for their proclivities is he very best they can hope for. They will gain no converts. They will not become a movement or a philosophy. Judaism is a religion, but to the overwhelming majority of the world's population, homosexuality is only a pathology, a condition to be pitied if not censured.
Context. We are in a time of worldwide upheaval and threat. It wouldn't be inappropriate if this were the year of Schindler's List and a remembrance of the suffering of the Jews. But it is an inappropriate time for obsessing about a tiny minority who are distinguished not by their history, philosophy, or convictions, but only their specific sexual desires.
In THIS year, the homosexual focus of the Golden Globes is denial. And perversion.