November 30th, 2006

Never Forget

And so it goes...

What am I to do when even caring seems an exercise in futility?


I frequently listen to the Preston and Steve morning radio show on WMMR in Philadelphia on my way to work. I only hear a few minutes during my short drive before it fades out close to the beach, but I generally hear a bit they do called "The Bizarre Files." These are, of course, weird and wacky stories that generally creep under the radar or are probably complete fiction circulating the Internet as urban legend. Last week, the first Bizarre blurb involved an office manager who made some racial comment to an African American coworker and then tried to underplay the comment by telling the coworker that she "loved Aunt Jemima." Preston, Steve, Casey and the rest of the crew clicked their tongues and scolded the woman for her prejudice. Similarly, they berated Michael Richards of Seinfeld fame for his racist tirade during a stand-up comedy show. But the next story involved an Asian man who had an Asian name (surprise!), which Preston read with a bit of a stumble. Steve immediately put on a stereotypical Asian accent, mocking the man's name and the accents of Asians in general. Also, the crew played sound-bytes of typical "Me so horny!" or "Bukkake!" snippets as Steve continued to play Asian and Preston continued the story. I shook my head at the hypocrisy as I changed over to NPR for war stories - not my preferred listening, but at least it doesn't suck intelligence points through the radio.


This week, I made the mistake of putting on the Dennis and Judi Show, of the dreadful New Jersey 101.5. The topic was gay marriage or civil unions; I can only assume this because Dennis and Judi do not spend much time actually discussing the topic they raise. They just use airtime to expound endlessly about their opinions. I've been angered before by Dennis and Judi, as they have had endless discussions of immigrants, illegal or not, and said at least once that Mexicans are taking over the country, if not the planet. Another time I listened, I heard Judi call her co-host faggot at least six times in the span of a single minute because his reaction to some event or watching some film was not masculine enough.


Judi has said repeatedly that she is not prejudiced against gays, and that she has been a "fag hag" all her life. Her "hairdresser" is even gay. Surprise! I can only assume she thinks these things excuse her from any responsibility as a (and I use the term loosely) journalist to at the very least maintain the appearance of impartiality, as well as not feeding into the prejudice already at large in our society in religious zealots or small-minded provincial folks who don't think anything other than what they're spoon-fed by the Media.


At the time of the faggot incident, I sent a scathing letter to the program director of NJ 101.5, telling him how irate I was that they were allowing such bigoted people spread their hatred across the state openly, without repercussions. I never received a reply, but I did notice that a day or two later, Judi was conspicuously absent from the program, with no other explanation from Dennis that she was "out for a few days." Perhaps through my complaint, and the complaints of others, she was told to take a few days off. I would love to think that, at least. However, what I heard on their program this week left me dumbfounded as to what I could possibly do.


As I said, I think Dennis and Judi were discussing gay marriage. What I heard from Dennis is that being gay is sick. He said it many times in fact. Being gay is not only not normal, it's sick. When Judi mentioned she watched Brokeback Mountain, he was completely repulsed, asking her why she would subject herself to it. She admitted that it was difficult to watch, but aside from the scenes of open affection between two men, there was a good story. When she mentioned the two main characters kissing, Dennis balked. He stated he would prefer watching babies being slaughtered to two men kissing.


I listened with disbelief. I could not possibly have heard that. He could not possibly have said that. Yet he did, and reiterated it. While Judi might have watched the scenes of Jack and Ennis in Brokeback through squinting eyes, Dennis would not watch that at all, though he could watch begrudgingly babies being killed violently. As they continued and took a caller, Judi pointed out again the fact that, even though she's a fag hag, she still thinks that being gay is not right. When the caller talked about his relationship with his partner, she plainly asked, "Which one of you is the wife?" The caller explained that neither he nor his partner took a role like that and said that even in heterosexual relationships, men can take the feminine roll of caring for house and home and women can work and fix things around the house. Judi's replied, "Yes, but she's still the wife."


The gay community is not guilt-free, however, with its own self-deprecating behavior. I'd like to believe shows like Will & Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy have strengthened the position of the effeminate gay within our community and all gays in the American community. But gay men continue to advertise themselves on singles websites as "straight acting," the implication being that there is something wrong or damaged with acting gay, whatever that might mean. Celebrities coming out as gay (most recently Lance Bass of *NSYNC, Neil Patrick Harris of Doogie Howser fame) stand up against endless criticism from gay bloggers as being attention seekers and has-beens. Gay magazine Out's cover stories are more often than not heterosexual actors or stereotypically buff Calvin Klein-type models.


The United States and Americans will continue to be hated by citizens of other countries, not just as long as our foreign policy involves injecting democracy into places that aren't ready for it. We will also be hated as long as we continue to hate each other, not just as Americans but as people.