Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Context, perspective and other trivialities


With few exceptions, I find myself at odds with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, particularly when they organize an awards show celebrating the very thing they are supposed to be aligned against. I recently watched that contradiction on the new LOGO cable channel, otherwise known as Lifetime for Gays (beware any creation that bears the MTV stamp).

Forgive the digression, but I'm so glad to see GLAAD stand up to the James Dobsons of the world and reaffirm our constitutional right to hold an awards show! Following that tone, minus the sarcasm, was Alan Cumming (writer and co-star "The Anniversary Party," a monument to cinematic self-importance), who sent my gag reflex into overdrive as I watched him bloviate against the "fascism" of the Bush adminstration upon recepit of an award for artistic courage, or lifetime achievement, or "Most Likely to Play the Great Gazoo" in the next "Flintstones" movie.

I watched Cumming employ the latest trend in artistic defiance, ignoring his alloted speech time (damn you, band conductor, I have something to say! Something so damn important it can only be said on an awards show!!) to berate the usual, predictable suspects in the usual, overstated style favored by many of today's "Access Hollywood" activists. (You know, just like Gandhi used to do!)

According to the alarmingly self-absorbed Mister Cumming, the world's biggest human rights struggle is underway --- not in Sudan or Syria --- but right here in the U.S. Beheadings are one thing, but when the government wont't grant you a piece of paper acknowledging your romance, then, well, it's time to fight, even if it means pissing off some unsuspecting awards show producer! (While in favor of across the board equality, I could really care less whether the government calls it domestic partnerships or marriage. I don't need a bureaucrat to confirm whether I'm in love. Conversely, I don't want to be punished for it, but there are far bigger facists to fry).

In Iran, two teen boys accused of the "crime" of homosexuality were recently the featured attraction at a well-attended public hanging (pictured above), intended to remind the citizenry that those 72 virgins awaiting young Muslim fundamentalists in the afterlife are indeed heterosexual. Of course, such events are commonplace in the Middle East, but lest we forget that Elton John can't get married in Utah.

Fortunately, Alan Cumming didn't let trivial matters such as ritual torture overshadow the bigger issue of our right to blow a bunch of money on an antiquated religious ceremony. What's the point of living if there's no hope of a bridal shower in your future?

Again, I'm certainly not opposed to gay marriage, although I always thought the restrictions against matriomny were one of the unintended benefits of homosexuality. Never having to pay alimony can't be all bad.

Regardless, all this goes to prove that the allegedly enlightened left is just as shortsighted and insulated as the caricatures on the right. We have no problem comparing Jerry Falwell to Hitler, but we're strangely silent on the sanctioned execution of homosexuals worldwide by alleged "mainstream" Muslim governments. Islam may not be our enemy, but, sadly, most of its practioners seem to be opposed to even the slightest of minority freedoms.

Gays and women should be leading the charge against the moral equivalency now popular on the left. (Instead, our lemming tendencies lead us to applaud when an "Evening at the Improv" luminary like Margaret Cho declares women are just as oppressed here as they are in Afghanistan. Her point: those "evil" corporations reinforce the beauty myth that thin is everything, and voluntary eating disorders are in fact a conspiracy just as diabolical as anything the Taliban might conjure up).

I'm reminded of George Carlin's take on anorexia, bulimia and what not: "Rich bitch don't want to eat ... Fuck 'em." Sorry, but my sensitivities and sympathies are elsewhere these days.

Likewise, to finish my meandering point, I offer Bill Maher's "defense" of Christian fundamentalism, in comparison with their Muslim counterparts: "Pat Robertson has never suggested we behead Richard Simmons."

But haven't context and perspective become irritating deterrents to our increasingly one-track minds, a thought process that requires thoughtless adherence to ideologies driven by well-funded interest groups? Might I suggest Alan Cumming take "Cabaret" on the road, with stops in Tehran, Cairo and all those other thriving cultural hot spots in the Middle East? And take Margaret Cho along, too, provided you can find a Lane Bryant that sells burkas. Seems that eating disorder didn't take.

There is a world outside of Hollywood, and it's a helluva lot more brutal and intolerant than anything John Ashcroft advocates. While there's no debating that the religious right in this country have organized to elevate Old Testament morality to issues of national consequence, that doesn't mean we, too, must lose all sense of context and perspective. Unfortunately, it seems the gay movement already has.

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