Archive for March 12th, 2009

Sit Down, Shut Up: A reunion of sorts

The animated series Sit Down, Shut Up doesn’t premiere until April 19, but here’s a nice little teaser featuring two of its stars: Will Arnett and Jason Bateman.

Cute guys.  Very cute.

March 12th, 2009

Bromances, homoeroticism and cheap laughs

This post is less than timely. But I feel like there are some things that need to be said in regards to Brody Jenner, SNL and the way they are shaping the public’s perception of the gays.

It seems like the mainstream tolerance of gay men is evolving in healthy, if annoying, ways. In the 70s, 80s and 90s gay characters came and went on comedic television shows. Sometimes they lisped and nancied about like debutantes. Other times they were tortured closet cases. (For the record, I think that Leon’s depiction on Roseanne is really one of the best early gay characters — he could be fey at times but mostly was just a regular guy with a day job)

So when Queer Eye came around, it really broke down a lot of doors (as stereotypical as the premise was) in creating an atmosphere where gay men were completely out and unapologetic. And they were usually ha-ha funny while staying pretty true to themselves (even if they hammed it up). And Will & Grace created a pretty devastatingly accurate portrayal of the straight girl/gay guy dysfunctional relationship while also managing to be incredibly funny.

But now there’s this trend — I suppose you could call it a trend — of a straight guys making comedies that mine man-on-man affection for laughs, but mask it with enough frat house charm to make it clear that there’s no real homophobia at play.

On Paul Rudd’s hosting gig on SNL earlier this season and in the new Andy Samberg movie (also with Rudd), they tried to reap a lot of laughs by putting men in intimate situations (SNL: nude men painting each other, messy kisses between male family members; movie: a misinformed gay dude kisses Rudd to an awkward reception, usage of the word “man-date” — a term that annoys the living crap out of me).

The trick about all this is that there’s no homophobia at play here. I’m sure these guys are all in the right place politically (pro-marriage, etc.) and Paul Rudd played a homo in that awful early 90s Jennifer Aniston movie before it was trendy to play gay. But what irks me is the fact that two men kissing each other is being played for a laugh, with the intended audience response being “oh, I can’t believe they went there!”

And as pleased as I always am to see Paul Rudd in homoerotic situations, I’d rather not have it played for comedic effect. I don’t want to seem humorless about this (there’s plenty of glitter-encrusted, stereotypical gay humor that I love — Planet Unicorn, anyone?), but if we lived in a *perfectly* civilized and tolerant society there wouldn’t be anything particularly awkward about all of these situations.  And pandering to the ole’ man-on-man kiss for a laugh can be belittling, considering the fact that that is exactly what gay men do.

On a tangential note, this phenomenon reminds me of the show Bromance on MTV, which (full disclosure) I’ve never seen a full episode of. Watch this clip to get a summary of what it’s about — but it’s basically a show where six guys compete to be Brody Jenner’s best friend. They compete in challenges, bare their souls and have Brody visit their families to ensure their compatibility (no shit!).

And while there’s more than a little homoeroticism afoot (there’s been a lot of ballyhoo about a group outing in a hot tub), there’s a certain vein of jockishness that is intended to ward off all perceptions of true gayness. Take this homoerotic (and completely staged) clip for example:

What I’m trying to say is this: The fact that straight guys on TV, even douchebags like Brody Jenner, can put themselves in gay situations and not react horribly is Progress.  Capital P.

But calling a show Bromance has an inherent underpinning of wanting to assert your own heterosexuality before it’s called into question. And for the SNL/Apatow crew to constantly get laughs based on men showing affection — it can get wearying, no matter how benign the intentions are.

6 comments March 12th, 2009

The More You Know: Screw Colbert, vote Battletoad!

March 12th, 2009


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