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Defending Glee

28 January, 2012 1 comment

I had a letter published in this month’s issue of Gay Community News,

Dear Editor,

In his assertion that Glee perpetuates a stereotype, Dylan (Letters, Issue 265) betrays a prejudice of his own, in his case against effeminate gay men. Perhaps it’s time for a new awareness slogan, “Some gay men like musicals – get over it”. For someone who seems to be a keen viewer of Glee, Dylan ignored the fact that Kurt was passed over for the male lead in West Side Story by his boyfriend, Blaine. He also ignores how Kurt’s father in that episode encourages him to be himself, not to conform to the perception of what a real man is, and to assert his true self, “What is wrong with any of that? It’s who you are. I say, if they’re not writing movies and plays for performers like you, then you’ve got to start writing your own. C’mon man, you’re awesome. Write your own history.”

Glee portrays diversity between its gay, lesbian and bisexual characters, between Kurt, the more butch Blaine, the closeted bully Karofsky, Santana now coming out and Brittany almost oblivious to why others care if she’s with a boy or a girl.

Dylan and others should also remember why the older stereotype arose. In the past, those like Blaine or Karofsky found it easy to pass for straight, while someone like Kurt, who even another gay man describes as prancing, couldn’t help but stand out.

But it was because of their presence that the public at large couldn’t pretend that gay people didn’t exist.

Now that full legal equality is within sight, it would a remaining social injustice if we were to continue the claim that effeminate men are not real men.

Yours,

William Quill

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Could they not have let Thatcher be Thatcher?

12 January, 2012 Leave a comment

The Iron Lady was not without some great moments, but it is disappointing that this film will probably mean that a figure as a monumental in British politics as Thatcher will not get the cinematic treatment she merits for some years to come again. Sure, it’s up to the director, Phyllidia Lloyd to portray her subject as she wishes, to choose the focus of her film, but it was certainly not the film I’d been hoping for.
ironladyposter Spoilers below

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Science fiction and the Irish question

10 April, 2010 2 comments

In today’s new episode of Doctor Who, set in the 29th century, the Doctor refers to the still extant United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, now located on a single big spaceship (though there’s reference later to Scotland going their own way). Of course the very British Who would.

On the other hand, in the Star Trek universe, by 2024, according to Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The High Ground”, Irish unification had been achieved, sadly as a result of terrorism.

Hitchcock’s cameos

I’ve seen eighteen of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, with The Lady Vanishes my favourite, so I enjoyed this clip I found on Andrew Sullivan’s blog.

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Pixar and The Muppets as conservative icons

22 January, 2010 Leave a comment

I posted a link recently to an article on Facebook recently Pixar’s conservatism, which I found on Andrew Sullivan‘s blog.

Today, the Democracy in America blog on The Economist had a similar piece on the Muppets, claiming that they equally espouse traditional conservative values. The case of The Muppets merits more discussion that given here.

Is suppose in both cases, these are instances of British conservatives trying to find a more respectable face to American conservatism in this time of Tea Party irrationality.

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The eye of the beholder

31 December, 2009 1 comment

Over the summer, I heard Tyler Cowen on EconTalk, the economics podcast with Russ Robert that I’d highly recommend. He was discussing his recent book, Create Your Own Economy, in which Cowen, who has recently realized that he is somewhat autistic, describes how society today is much more amenable to autism than times past, given the more common tendency to collect information online. He also finds many historic and even fictional people who he believes could be described as autistic. Two he mentioned were Adam Smith and Sherlock Holmes.

I had to smile to myself, because I had felt both could be gay. In the case of Smith, when I did a course on the History of Macroeconomic Thought, our lecturer, Prof. Antoin Murphy, took the time with each of the economists we studied, from William Petty to Henry Thornton, to give a brief biography. So I couldn’t but notice that in both his case and David Hume’s, they never married or seemed to have any relations with women, explained by saying that they were very close to their respective mothers. As I had before noticed Smith being cited by the Conservative Humanist Association, it was amusing to think that the man who most popularized the ideas of classical economic thought in the Enlightenment might be, like myself, a gay religious skeptic.

As to Holmes (also a rationalist skeptic), it had first occurred to me in my early teens, as I was towards the end of reading all sixty Holmes Adventures for the second time. In the fifty-fourth story, The Adventure of the Three Garridebs, Dr John Watson, Holmes’s housemate and chronicler,  is shot, and for a moment Holmes shows true compassion for his injured friend. It seemed to me to make sense as a romantic attachment, so that when I saw Billy Wilder’s The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes later, it was not the first time I considered whether Holmes was gay. Of course, the normal reaction of close friends would probably be no different, but there was something in the way that he had not till that moment been anything other than wholly reserved about his feelings. He never seemed to care much either for Watson’s short-lived marriage (Robert Downey’s portrayal of this in Sherlock Holmes what prompted me to write this). There was Irene Adler in A Scandal in Bohemia, referred to Holmes as The Woman, but the intrigue for him could well have been just admiration for her ability to outwit him.

Which is not to say that either Smith or Holmes is or is nor autistic or gay. But we all have a tendency to find such likenesses, particularly with those characters or figures we admire, and where there is little chance of falsification.

Capitalism and Christmas

23 December, 2009 Leave a comment

Here’s a nice article from Onkar Ghate of the Ayn Rand Institute in a head-to-head on the meaning of Christmas. Though Miss Rand herself was not known to be particularly warm, perhaps this shows how the Christmas spirit brings out the best in all of us.

This focus on earthly joy is the actual source of the emotion most commonly identified with Christmas: goodwill. When you genuinely feel good about your own life and when you’re allowed to acknowledge and celebrate that joy, you come to wish the same happiness for others. It is those who despise their own lives who lash out at and make life miserable for the rest of us. …

Christmas as we know it, with its twinkling lights, flying reindeer, and dancing snowmen, is largely a creation of 19th-century America. One of the most un-Christian periods in Western history, it was a time of worldly invention, industrialization, and profit. Only such an era would think of a holiday dominated by commercialism and joy and sense the connection between the two.

Though I think anyone writing on this side of the Atlantic would have to give due credit to Charles Dickens, who so popularized the merriment of the season.