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The problem with being in fashion

by Kulvinder on 4th November, 2005 at 9:35 am    

I write this as a heterosexual man. This isn’t meant to be patronising and i hope it doesn’t read that way.

The depiction of any minority or subgroup of ‘wider’ society always has a tendency towards clichés. The media highlights the differences between communities as a way of distinguishing between them; there is nothing inherently wrong in that, but it does lend itself to stereotypes and bigotry. During and immediately after the civil rights movement in the US, the depiction and characterisation of African-Americans started to focus through blaxploitation inspired individuals. The legacy of that is a bigotry amongst some of how they believe ‘black’ people (all black people) behave.

The same issues are now being faced by the gay community, not only in the US but also Britain. The depiction of Gay people isn’t as ‘everyday’ members of society but almost exclusively as camp, materialistic, fashion contentious urbanites. I apologised at the beginning if this sounded patronising, i do so again. I’m not trying to say if only minority group x behaved like majority group y everything would be ok. This isn’t about cultural imperialism but rather the long term consequences of letting a gay archetype, a black archetype or a brown archetype develop unhindered.

Programmes such as the black and white minstrel show are looked back upon as being cringeworthy and racist. In my opinion Queer eye for the Straight guy, Playing it straight and their like will be seen in a similar light in years to come (if not already)

I don’t think the fights for equality that gay people face regarding marriage or adoption/parenting are served well by gayploitation images becoming embedded in society. Some of the most notable people in history were gays or lesbians, that should be used as a weapon to breakdown barriers not shallow tv inspired characters.

This sounds horrible, i don’t mean it to be. Im weary of a gay comedian standing up in 20 or 30 years time and making a really shit joke about the difference between faggots and gay people. The straw that broke the camels back for me was overhearing a conversation between two girls in a bar. One turned to the other and commented on how much she wanted a Gay Best Friend, she could go shopping and gossip with him. The injustices faced by gay people had been completely overlooked, she wanted a fashion item, this years must have GBF in the latest prada colours.

The problem with being in fashion is that one day you’re out of fashion. Last years must have best friend was probably black (gucci i think) this year those girls held their handbags close when they passed him.

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  1. Kulvinder — on 4th November, 2005 at 9:37 am  

    Oh and erm Asian people can also be gay.

    That brings me back within sunny’s rules for the site ;p

  2. Clive — on 4th November, 2005 at 10:33 am  

    Well, Kulvinder, I’m queer and you hit the nail squarely on the head for me. I despise “Queer Eye” and all its hideous offshoots. If someone suggested a programme in which black men taughtwhite men how to dance, steal cars and smoke crack, it would be seen for what it is - vile, stereotypical patronising bullshit.

    However, what irritates me more than anything is that queers are complicit in this oppressive crap, happy to play the twittering fashion queen for TV audiences (or even more depressingly, happy to play the same for a couple of their girlie friends).

  3. T Nathan — on 4th November, 2005 at 11:12 am  

    “programme in which black men taughtwhite men how to dance, steal cars and smoke crack ” - LOL

    Obviously minorities don’t want to be streotyped, but must accept that the associated characteristics are more prevelent within their group. The problem is with the minority and not with society.

    Anyway , there’re too many gays on tv these days, and they all seem to immitating each other.

    Clive - Homosexuality is a sin

  4. shihab — on 4th November, 2005 at 11:56 am  

    Bigotry is a sin in my books

  5. coruja — on 4th November, 2005 at 12:09 pm  

    “Some of the most notable people in history were gays or lesbians..” - some of the most notable people in history were …erm …people! And who they prefer to romp with should not be a huge(*) concern, unless they really are a bit repressed and spend too much time thinking about other peoples bedroom antics than getting their own trumpet blown!

    I really find it hard(*) to understand people who continue to define their lives with modern democratic secular values then regress in to a thousand year old values when it comes to all things sexual. Developed as they were when things were a bit backward - for example there wasn’t any fridges - they hang(*) around all cultures blighting the lives of many.

    As for gay people being complicit in all this crap on TV, it is probably because there are so few areas in commercial entertainment where a gay person is acceptable - actually, fashion is about it - and the part they have to play is ‘being gay’ - “for god sakes if they acted ‘normal’ what’s the point?”

    In a lot of films when a character is ‘played by a ‘black’ actor, he is there as a black persona - he has to act ‘black’ &etc.

    It is the limit of the imagination of the people producing these programmes and not of the general consuming public that is the hurdle.

    T Nathan - “..problem is with the minority not the society” ?? Que? That minority is a part of the said society & if a minority is defined by particular characteristics then of course those characteristics are more prevelant in that group, you twat(**)

    (*) = sad pun
    (**) = sad person

  6. Chris — on 4th November, 2005 at 12:57 pm  

    T Nathan - a “sin” - just double checking you are being ironic?

  7. Chris — on 4th November, 2005 at 12:59 pm  

    T Nathan - Oops, just read your post more clearly, obviously you are not.
    “Too many gays on TV”?
    Too many bigoted imbeciles like you, certainly.

  8. Sunny — on 4th November, 2005 at 1:10 pm  

    I thought the fact that T. Nathan was an imbecile was already established?

    Kulvinder - See you could have put in a paragraph about Asian stereotyping, but noooo! You had to be different didn’t you? :|

  9. pregethwr — on 4th November, 2005 at 1:11 pm  

    To be fair in the British version of ‘playing it straight’ the point was that the girl got it wrong because the most steriotypically ’straight’ man was actually gay.

    Pretty much agree apart from that.

  10. Chris — on 4th November, 2005 at 1:16 pm  

    Yes - ‘Playing It Straight’ was rather an anti-stereotyping show.
    On balance I think the portrayal of gay men has got a lot better (i.e. no longer just Larry Grayson, John Inman etc.).
    Not sure about gay women who still seem to crop up much less frequently.

  11. Robert — on 4th November, 2005 at 2:37 pm  

    Some of the most notable people in history were gays or lesbians..” - some of the most notable people in history were …erm …people! And who they prefer to romp with should not be a huge(*) concern

    I the case of someone like William Shakespeare it is particularly pertinent. His plays (well, one in particular) and his sonnets seem to have pretty much defined ‘love’ for Western culture. That these sonnets were mostly written to a young man is particularly relevant.

  12. Robert — on 4th November, 2005 at 2:40 pm  

    Bringing the subject back to the reinforcing of stereotypes, do you think The Khumars at Number 42 falls into this category? I know its comedy, but still…

  13. shihab — on 4th November, 2005 at 2:46 pm  

    That’s the nature of comedy. You can take the piss out of yourself (or selves) because you (and people like you) find it funny. Jackie Mason can make Jewish jokes, Bernard Manning can’t (but then Bernard Manning can’t tell jokes full stop).

    It’s all about why you’re cracking a joke that puts someone down. If it’s because you’re saying ‘laugh massa, I crack joke for you’, it’s wrong. If you’re saying ‘laugh at others because they’re a different colour’, that’s wrong. But if you’re saying ‘I’m secure with myself to laugh at myself’, it’s on.

  14. Robert — on 4th November, 2005 at 2:57 pm  

    So I guess ‘laugh at others because they’re wrong’ is satire… or is it incitement to religious hatred?

  15. shihab — on 4th November, 2005 at 3:03 pm  

    Laugh at others because they’re dickheads is the essence of comedy. Being a dickhead is something you can change. Being born brown or gay isn’t.

  16. shihab — on 4th November, 2005 at 3:06 pm  

    And stereotype is vital to comedy (just as generalisation is crucial to media). Most observational wisecracks start along the lines of ‘people who…’

    I don’t why everyone is so het up over stereotype. We all like labelling ourselves. I’m a free thinker. Voila. A label. Think you’re a rebel? There’s another one.

  17. Nindy — on 4th November, 2005 at 3:25 pm  

    There is too much political correctness in the world that humour is sterialised and freedom of speech is eroded. It’s healthy to make fun of one another and tragedy. Visceral even.

  18. Clive — on 4th November, 2005 at 3:45 pm  

    Yes - ‘Playing It Straight’ was rather an anti-stereotyping show.

    Not at all - the criteria by which the straight woman judged the men’s sexuality were rooted in stereotypes.

    Can you imagine a show where a Gentile woman has to guess who the Jews are among a group of ten men? “Who’s Jew” it could be called. How hilarious!


  19. coruja — on 4th November, 2005 at 4:13 pm  

    The weird thing is - given that being gay is a very bad thing, apart fom when they’re offering fashion tips - there isn’t any bad/nasty/evil gay characters on TV - apart from Peter Mandelson (who’s part Jewish and gay …which is very very bad! …and a prime candidate for hosting Clive’s ‘Who’s Jew’ show).

    It’s a strange business, show-business.

  20. Col. Mustafa — on 4th November, 2005 at 6:29 pm  

    I remember that Extras episode where i think Ricky Gervais was in some scene with a gay writer.
    He goes he doesn’t mind homosexuals but why is he so gay for.
    hehehe, its kind of true that the gay thing has turned into a fashion statement, well more campness that is.

    I know a few gays who are just chilled out guys.
    They often complain and take the piss out of so called gays who try too hard at being gay.
    Or try too hard at being the type of gay that the majority of the media portray.

    I always thought Will & Grace was funny though, but i realised that it wasn’t a gay comedy at all.
    Its comedy is all over the place like the characters themselves, which is good as it doesn’t adhere to stereotypes.
    Ahh but what can you do, stereotypes will always be there, even when you overcome one stereotype another one will always take its place.

  21. T Nathan — on 4th November, 2005 at 8:07 pm  

    I made valid points. “sin” Was meant to be irony. no need to call me “imbecile” !

    For all gays to be on TV , there’s almost a prerequisite to act in a certain manner . . But streotypes also serve to brake barriers .

  22. Al-Hack — on 4th November, 2005 at 8:46 pm  

    I think they like calling you an imbecile anyway T. Get used to it brotha!

  23. Kulvinder — on 5th November, 2005 at 7:24 am  

    Oh i absolutely agree that stereotypes aid the breaking down of barriers, it was the point i alluded to when i said the media highlights differences as a means of distinguishing.

    Still that has to be balanced against the embedding of that stereotype as a false reality. Im not against humour, my views are actually at odds with those of most people i have encountered. I laughed at gimmegimmegimme but hate will and grace. The former, written by a gay man, is a caricature, a parody of the latter (i think it was produced beforehand but still). Will and grace, to me, does nothing but create a fantasy lifestyle for straight women. I wasn’t a fan of the show but the best depiction of a gay (well lesbian) relationship was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was shown as any other relationship on the show was, but one that just happened to be between a homosexual couple.

    The Kumars at number 42 and GGM, are and were caricatures of individuals. The programmes from inception were designed to be over the top. I won’t deny they serve a purpose, but i would hate and would feel really patronised if british asians were only depicted in that manner, or the only shows that british asians could get produced were of that type.

    I think that Britain at least, has reached a stage where the initial ’shock’ of homosexuality within society has been dealt with. What’s needed now is the inclusion of gay people who aren’t two-dimensional cartoon characters. I say in Britain at least because the US is far far more fucked up about most things (race, sex etc) the view of hollywood as a liberal all accepting place is bollocks, they worship money first. But thats another argument, i won’t tangentalise and bore you all.

  24. T Nathan — on 6th November, 2005 at 4:20 pm  

    Anyway , has anyone noticed the interesting programme proposals from clive the gay rights activist :

    “Gentile woman has to guess who the Jews are among a group of ten men? “Who’s Jew” it could be called ”

    “programme in which black men taughtwhite men how to dance, steal cars and smoke crack ”

    I’d watch it ! i would i would

  25. made in America — on 9th November, 2005 at 2:56 am  

    Don’t take this as bashing gays, but have you been to a gay pride parade? It’s every stereotype magnified. My best friend since early childhood came out when we were teens, so I’ve been around the good and the bad. The real gay community is quite “normal.” But the public face it presents plays to every stereotype. It’s the same with blacks. Popular black culture plays to every stereotype out there. It’s not straight folks dressing parade participants is assless chaps, nor is it white folks making gangsta rap.

  26. made in America — on 9th November, 2005 at 3:03 am  

    kulv shows it’s real colors at last…. The thing threatening to delete my posts is clearly just anti-American. Well sweetheart, you don’t know dick about America. You should learn from france. You europeans like to talk about how progressive you are, but it’s such a joke.

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