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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bigotry or Satire?

Garrison Keillor in Salon waxes eloquent about the good old days.

Dan Savage says bigotry here.

Keillor really didn’t come to praise heterosexual marriage and monogamy. He came to bury gay couples—particularly gay couples with children.

And now gay marriage will produce a whole new string of hyphenated relatives. In addition to the ex-stepson and ex-in-laws and your wife’s first husband’s second wife, there now will be Bruce and Kevin’s in-laws and Bruce’s ex, Mark, and Mark’s current partner, and I suppose we’ll get used to it.

The country has come to accept stereotypical gay men—sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog and who worship campy performers and go in for flamboyance now and then themselves. If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control. Parents are supposed to stand in back and not wear chartreuse pants and black polka-dot shirts. That’s for the kids. It’s their show.

Oh. My. God.

Where to start? How about that one sentence that somehow manages to pack in six flaming stereotypes about gay men—fussy hair, small dogs, over-decorated apartments, and on and on. Yes, Garrison, all of us gay men—particularly us gay parents!—are decadent, flamboyant creatures. Sure, having kids means puke on your chartreuse trousers and candy ground into your expensive sofa—but, hey, those are small prices to pay if it means getting to show off your chartreuse pants at PTA meetings!

What an asshole. Asshole, asshole, asshole. What Keillor wrote today on Salon is every bit as offensive as Ann Coulter’s “faggot” joke about John Edwards and relies on the same set of cultural prejudices.

I know a lot of gay couples with children—some of which, as I type these words, are losing their health insurance in Michigan because of an anti-gay marriage amendment passed in that state by hateful motherfuckers who, like Keillor, hate, fear and know nothing about gay couples. None of the gay couples with kids I know go in for chartreuse pants and polka-dot shirts or striped (?) sofas.

Most of the gay male parents I know adopted children that men and women in “opposite-sex marriages” weren’t interested in—children with HIV, older children, mixed-race children, children with developmental disabilities, children abused, neglected and abandoned by their heterosexual parents. Every year I go to Michigan for Gay Family Week in Saugatuck and I’m staggered by the love, patience, and compassion demonstrated by these men. These couples deserve our gratitude and support. What they don’t deserve is a rich, old hypocrite insinuating that they’re more interested in their fussy hairdos and over-decorated apartments than they are in raising their kids.

And Garrison? Ultimately gay parents aren’t interested in being “accepted as couples and daddies” by withered old adulterers. We exist irrespective of your “acceptance.” And if I seem angry, you fucking motherfucker, it’s because I am. Angered and shocked. I’m used to being attacked by right-wingers obsessed with gay sex and fixated on anti-gay stereotypes. It’s a new and different sensation to be attacked so crudely by a man of the left—particularly when that man’s fat ass squats in a large glass house.

Letter writers to Salon suggest this was satire. If satire, it is satire of the Al Franken type.

If it is satire...then he has failed

I don't think it is entirely satire b/c of his penchant for glorifying "down-homeness." If it were meant to be, he is rubbing to close to stereotypes that his whole schtick has been built upon and thus he fails.

Admittedly, Keillor is too smart to be entirely serious about this commentary, but there is enough of a kernel of truth in it (the fact that it resonates with me on some level, for instance) that it crosses the line from satire's fantasy realm (ala Swift) and becomes didactic rather than ironic.

So, if it is meant to be purely is not very good.

-- blueturtle

Get Your Rage On!

Far be it from me to get personal or judgemental about other letter writers, but please re-read the article. I see nearly everyone raging at how Mr. Keillor hates gays, or believes the world has gone to hell because it isn't like the good old days. It ain't there, people.

Mr. Keillor contrasts the way it was when he grew up "before pizza!" and I remember those days myself. I grew up in the same neighborhood as Lake Woebegon. His description sounds superficially like the same good old days that the wingnuts are obsessed by - but read more closely. Mr. Keillor is not worshipping those days, like the mouth breathers do. He's satirizing them. Obviously, not "everyone" had the house with garage and yard, one mommy and daddy back then. He knows that, and assumes you do, too. Similarly, when he talks about the multi-ethnic classroom, he's not condemning it - like the freepers - he sounds amazed and thrilled by the radical change from the near-monoculture of his youth.

And when he pokes fun at the complexities of serial monogamist marriages - hey, he's entitled. He's been there himself. It's not hypocrisy, it's experience. By extending the relative nomenclature analogy to GLBT marriages, why do you assume he's opposed to them? Read it again. Figure it out.

Mr. Keillor isn't condemning the way the US has changed, he's embracing it, in his own dryly humorous way.

It's too bad so many of you just use his columns to get your mad on. Go read an article that talks about Israel, and flame about it, for a change.

-- Zandru

Ann Coulter's defense of her remark was also a satire defense.


Bil said...

Satire, exagerated parody. Obvious. And anyone who listens to Keillor knows that. It doesn't mean that it ever reads well out of context, or that it is as funny as he intended.
Same for out of context Franken.
And I don't want to defend Coulter but I watched the whole clip and it is obvious that she was doing an innapropriate "sly" schoolyard taunt of Faggot at an obvious heterosexual public figure for effect, book sales, etc. It wasn't funny, it was only sensational. It was even bigotry it was just inappropriate and unnaceptable like MANY of our decorating schemes and fussy hair.