6:41 PM |
Saturday Night Live Goes Gay! and Other Instances of Humor in Faggotry
In the end, humour saves day. There is plenty of angry activism in the LGBT movement -- and there must be -- and in that regard, we are all children of Larry Kramer, the author and activist who goaded and scolded and shouted at all sorts of people, even colleagues in the gay men's health organisation he founded shortly after AIDS descended in full force in New York in the early 1980s. He believed in the power of his anger, and that anger spilled out in glorious rants in the novel Faggots and in the play The Normal Heart.
But there is also humour.
Sometimes that humour can be nasty, especially when it comes from straight comedians. Someone like Louis C.K. who once brandished the word "faggot" in a comedy routine and with such relish, too, that I could not help but cringe.
Can we excuse him for the "knowingness" he seemed to bring to the material? The "wink"? Wasn't he in fact making fun of the machismo of his audience? Perhaps. Jokes as a narrative can contain land mines. It can be used to be dismissive, and it can be used to sharply reveal the worms of a society predisposed to not talking about a "sensitive" issue. Jokes are a measure of our comfort with certain topics that galvanise us a people. To be able to laugh at ourselves is a sign of maturity.
In that regard, I do appreciate the humour Saturday Night Live! brings to the whole discussion of homosexuality.
In their "Gay Camp" featuring Ben Affleck, they make fun of conservatives' belief that you can "cure" gayness. Camps across America have been set-up to do just this -- and SNL pokes fun at this and the hypocrisy it is founded on.
They also make fun about the prohibition of gays from the military...
They also make fun of our tendency for erasure of the very gay certainty of things in some of our myth-making of the past -- and in this skit involving Spartan men (inspired by the gore and testosterone fest of movies like 300, which has since become a symbol of gritty masculinity), they magnify the little known fact that these men were probably highly involved homosexuals as befitted the culture then...
They also demolish for us the denial over the fact that rampant homoeroticism does simmer beneath celebrity culture...
And sometimes they just go for broke and glory in the fun and absurdity of gay life. In The Ambiguously Gay Duo, they parody superheroes in spandex (Batman and Robin immediately come to mind) who are really practically gay, they just don't know it. (Even the villains know it).
And sometimes they get to root of a certain issue, and in inviting laughter, we are forced to consider our stances in the culture war that is in fact brewing. Their "God is a Boob Man!" short film -- a fake trailer for a fake movie -- is a perfect example of this. In making fun of the recent conservative controversy over some "Christian" cakemakers' refusal to make wedding cakes for gay couples, they unmask the misguided venom of "Christians."