Sunday, February 10, 2008

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Okay, so about two weeks ago, I found myself pleased with one--and, trust me only one--of "The L Word" storylines, i.e. showing the alienation trans individuals can experience in the queer community. One step forward. However, last Sunday the show took two steps back, in my opinion, by doing something the white queer community has a habit of doing--making blackness the face of homophobia. Interesting that they did this, too, given that not too long ago I'd also written about how the media portrays blacks and Asians, pointing out that one of the roles Hollywood likes to cast blacks in is, what I like to call, the "@sshole of the show" or "the b!tch of the show."

Well, that's exactly what "The L Word" likes to do with their more black characters--Jennifer Beales not exactly counting given that she hardly ever seems to identity with her blackness on the show. For example, there's a black female character who is on the show now for her second season, though, clearly, she will not be a mainstay of the cast. When she first came on the scene, she was known amongst the white girls as "angry." Although she's a bit more accepted now and has herself a white girlfriend, there are still times when she's "angry"...

Like when her white girlfriend, the professional homosexual I wrote about in the post linked to above about trans issues on the show, outed this black male athlete on the show. Seems the writers of the show--you know, the ones who can't bring themselves to write the only permanent black character on the show as a black character and writes pretty much all the temporary black characters the show brings on in stereotypical ways--decided to make the black male athlete a closet gay at a party one night and then a ranting homophobe to the media the next day. Fine--there are black homophobes, sure; I'm not saying there aren't. But the stereotype goes something like--and white queers, in particular, completely buy this--blacks are the only homophobes, or the most homophobic and, thus, deserve all of white queers' hate versus--oh, I don't know--the tons of Asians and Latinos who happen to think a lot like black homophobes or the conservative white homophobes who are always getting busted on the down low or just the significant percentage of the white hetero population in general that has a problem with queers.

What, were they worried that nobody'd believe a white, Asian or Latino as an athlete-slash-homophobe, thus adding another stereotype to the mix? Or were they just trying to mimmick the Tim Hardaway situation in every way except imposing their fantasy that every homophobe is really a closet case (not to mention every closet case is really a homophobe)? Can't they be more original than stereotypes and ripping other stuff off (btw, does "Les Girls" conjure up the idea of a lesbo ripoff of "Dream Girls" to anybody else?!?! If not, recall the episode from last season where they did this little fantasy musical-type thing out of "Les Girls," then answer that question again)? The most interesting thing is how this perpetuates the idea out in the world of whiteness as the face of queerness, not to mention the new and "only" wronged group left in society, from the show's blindingly white cast in addition to blackness as the face of homophobia...and blacks as the new oppressors rather than any longer an oppressed party, let alone part of the oppressed queer community. It allows queer whites to justify being racist, as if they weren't all along.

And then, to top it off, the white chick who outed the athlete got into a fight with her black girlfriend--the black girlfriend wanting to know why the hell the professional homo (PH) had to go and out the black dude. Frankly, the black female was right--it was not PH's place, and the way the situation came about could be harmful to the black female's future as she, herself, is not out...and if her girlfriend had used her head, she would have realized that outing an athlete would make her famous, garnering a lot of scrutiny of her, her background and, thus, scrutiny of her closeted girlfriend who is in the homophobic military (the reason she's closeted). But...the situation makes PH a heroine to white queers watching the show because white (and white-washed) queers have a tendency to think everyone should be out--indeed, every queer owes them the relinquishing of this private decision--and it's okay to out people, especially hypocrites who say things they don't like.

This is really what bothered me about the Isaiah Washington scandal. I don't get mad about slurs, but I see where people who do are coming from. So, it's not like I agree with Washington's behavior or choice of words. What got to me is the way white queers simply get mad at and protest other bigots whereas they make an example out of black bigots. The black bigot has got to get fired after a studio scuffle and be held up to say, "See? We told you blacks were more homophobic than everyone else." Meanwhile, some white guys can be to blame for the most famous hate crime against a homosexual as of yet in the US and Latinos can have more derogatory terms for queers than every other culture put together...still, blacks are more hateful than everyone else. And so, when it comes time to cast the homophobic bigot, let's make 'em black most of the time. And then we'll just have the angry black b!tch stick up for 'em.