Let me begin by saying: I like South Park, Family Guy, and the Simpsons. All of which have had their fair share of homophobic jokes. Men's relationship to our own sexuality is anything but healthy. From the time we're children we're teasing each other or beating up on each other about being strong, being masculine--the worst thing you can be as a young boy, is skinny, fat, or effeminate. I was more a victim of this than I'd like to admit. I don't think I was ever called a F**, but my masculinity was consistently challenged by other boys. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, I still enjoy some crude humor--I survived it--I feel like I've earned it. The fact is: there are a lot of unfortunate stereotypes about gays, and humor is often based on such stereotyping. But Jonah Hill, whom I know nothing about, has created a story that actually portrays horrible, truly horrible gay stereotypes. The type that the Religious Right has been forcing down our throats for years.
Look. Gays themselves promote certain stereotypes. Look at Project Runway. But even those stereotypes are just as incorrect as stereotypes about rape. But they're tolerated, and even in a "fabulous" city like New York, it's rare to see an openly homosexual man who doesn't adhere to some stereotypes. Maybe its about fitting in--I don't know.
Let's get to the facts. Allen Gregory is a seven year old child who has been homeschooled by a rich gay couple. The rich couple is falling on hard times because of the recession, and because of that, this incredibly precocious child is forced to go to public school. That's fine, and actually funny. Who doesn't love to see the rich snob snubbed by the cold hard reality of normal life? That's fine, though implausible, AG's tutor is one of his fathers, not some high-priced private tutor. Not to mention, given the level of wealth exhibited by the TV show, I'd say its also implausible because Allen Gregory is one of the 1%--so they're fine. Only middle class kids are dropping out of expensive private tutoring.
That's where all semblance of okayness ends.
1) Allen Gregory's flaming father shamelessly abuses his other "daddy" in public. The first words out of his mouth are a public humilation of the man. In the three episodes I've seen, this practice continues unabated. He only ever says two nice things about the man, one of them treating him like a piece of meat, and the other...actually nice. And the other daddy, Jeremy, is clearly shocked by this nice treatment.
So gay relationships must be abusive? Well, ok, abuse is possible in all relationships, and certainly the film Party Monster (and the horrifying real life story) indicates that no sexualities are immune.
2) It is indicated in those first two episodes that AG's father may well have forced Jeremy to become a homosexual. Jeremy confesses to AG that his father was unrelenting in his pursuit of Jeremy, even when he was straight, happily married and at the top of his career. Jeremy admits that Rich ignored restraining orders and publicly stalked him
Ok, maybe he was gay, right? That's plausible, maybe the wife was a beard. That happens right?
Except no, its not ok. A predominant homphobic meme is the fear that gays can "turn" straight men. You used to see it on TV all the time when gays were first openly portrayed on television. The conversation might go like this: Straight man sitting on couch, finds out that his best friend next to him is gay. "You're not going to hit on me are you?" "No, you're not my type." Ha. Ha. It's still homophobic. It indicates that a straight man has something to fear from a gay person.
3) By the end of the second episode it has become more and more clear that Jeremy's "life partner" Rich, has been raping him every time they have sex. When Allen Gregory wants to make a sex tape of him and the principal, and he describes his vision to his manservant. "I think it should just be regular sex, you know with one person running away and saying, 'No, I don't feel like it' and the other person should completely ignore that and say something like 'Come on Jeremy, just go with it.' Somebody should give him a slap, and than somone should put up their hands to god and say, 'oh god, what has my life become?' And then we should just wrap it up with a little crying in the bathroom." Later on, a comment by Rich "Well you lost that argument about fitting something in" to Jeremy's rectum, leads Jeremy, in a defeated tone, to hang his head and say "yes, yes I lost that argument."
4) The last awful thing in my three episodes of viewing was the episode "Gay School Dance." This show had some promise, the chance to right some wrongs. Instead, Rich forces the entire elementary school to bring same sex partners to the dance, and the plot of the episode turns around the adopted daughter of Rich, attempting to get the principal to fight back against him, and put the dance back to "normal." Nevermind that Rich himself, isn't changing the dance for the benefit of a human kind or equal rights --no he threw a jealous hissy fit that his partner was more popular with the kids at school, and retaliated.
There are many other disgusting and shameful things to this TV show, but I won't bother with them. I think this show could really have been funny, and still respectful, but someone really messed this up. And as Jonah Hill has appended his name to this flop--I think it must be his fault.
Look, I admit that I like sassy, flaming gay characters; its a cheap stereotype, and I'm ashamed to enjoy it. But they're fun, and almost universally liked. However, I cannot countenance this open disregard, scornful, reprehensible and meanspirited as it is. We, as a society, must demand better of each other.