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Saturday, September 08, 2007

"Movies about Gay People Offend Me"

So I work at the library now, or as some people from around the area call it, the "libary". It is a pretty cool job, and I am learning a lot, but being introduced to whole new worlds of lunacy.
We have a very large DVD collection, and often people come in with not-happy faces, clinging tightly to what they have previously checked out, ready to unleash complaints. These complaints usually involve the content of the film they have checked out. Though all our film cases contain the film rating and a brief description of the film's plot, people sometimes still find ways to be shocked by what they have checked out.
(QUICK NOTE: Bare with my dodgy prose here, I haven't written anything in a LONG time.)
Well, the other day this woman came in looking particularly enraged. In her own words she was "extremely offended as a Christian woman" by the film she was returning. Holding back snickers (because I think I am better than everyone else
), I asked why she was so offended.
"Why?" she rhetorically asks, as if I have asked her why it is neccessary to breathe,"because it was all about...GAYS!" Gays. Those darned gays are always popping up everywhere. Apparently the film was Angels in America, an HBO miniseries based on a play of the same name, winner of 11 Emmy Awards. I should preface this by saying I have never seen this miniseries. I hear it is quite good, but I really can't comment on the content because I haven't seen it. What I can say is that the number one complaint from patrons in regard to DVDs is that the film they have checked out was "all about gays." My usual response is to say "thank you", reshelve the movie with all the other movies, go into my office and ask someone what year we are currently living in. Though I think that the homosexual 'movement' is one of the biggest threats to the church and to America today, I think that...
okay, actually, I think that homosexuals are about as big a threat to the church and America as Sobe's new flavor of iced tea,
but I guess these particular persons' deal is, if their taxes are paying for our collection, should our collection contain titles that offend them?...
I would say yes, our collection should most definitely contain titles that offend or challenge someone, and...
Are people still supposed to say things loudly in public like, "I was greatly offended. This movie was about gay people."? Often times the "I am a Christian, and..." comment is thrown in there as well.
Doesn't this make us (Christians) look bad? As a Christian, I guess I fall on the more 'liberal' side of the Christian spectrum, and while slightly ambiguous in my beliefs in certian areas of the matter, I don't think anyone has the right (I mean figurative, not literal "right") to tell gay people what they can or cannot do, that they are sinners, and ESPECIALLY that they are headed to a certain area of the afterlife.
No matter your opinion, though, is loudly stating in a public place that simply viewing filmed material featuring actors playing homosexuals greatly offends you really going to win homosexuals to your cause? What will this make them think of you? That you are supercool awesome, and that you have the answer to the great question of life? Or that you are an insensitive, intolerant bigot...or worse...someone who does not in anyway care about people different from you? I think the latter...I mean, if someone brought back Under the Tuscan Sun and complained to me that it was "All about Italians" in a disgusted voice, I would probably punch them in the face. If I was a homosexual and someone turned in a Will and Grace DVD and loudly complained that it was all about gays and should be labeled or removed (actual situation), I would punch them in the face, too.
So anyway, I have completely forgotten how to organize a post. I don't think organization was ever my strong suit.
Any opinions on this? I think people who get offended by films involving gays should just not check out movies featuring gay characters. This seems like a much more sensible solution than attempting to end other people's opportunities to check the movies out, or actually labeling every movie with a gay character "GAY". Am I wrong in stating that, despite the fact that these people's taxes are paying for our collection, only keeping items which are non-offensive to all people is censorship? And that censorship is bad? Really bad?
Does this even matter?

Addendum: GO TIGERS!!!


jess said...

Seriously, though. If you took off your shelves any movie or book that offended ONE person who was paying taxes, you wouldn't have any books or movies left.

My tax money pays the salaries of workers I don't approve of (government employees, politicians, etc.) and helps programs I don't approve of (not going there in comments). We can't dictate where our tax money goes (which is an argument for another day).

Books have been censored for ages. C.S. Lewis. Ray Bradbury. Madeleine L'Engle. Judy Bloom. Mark Twain. J.K. Rowling. Lois Lowry. Harper Lee. Shel Silverstein, for censors' sakes!

Books I have known, grown up with, loved, have been condemned by close-minded ignoramuses who have nothing better to do than to talk badly about something they haven't even read. If I don't like a book, I don't re-read it or buy it (or sometimes even finish it). If I don't like a TV show or a movie, I don't watch it again. It's that simple.

It has nothing to do with homosexuals or what current society says about them. I'm a big advocate of checking out beforehand what you watch so you aren't bombarded with crap you don't want to see (images tend to stick with me a lot longer than words on a page, personally). If they didn't read the back of the box or didn't ask, they could have at least turned it off as soon as they saw something they didn't like. (Yep, I've walked out of movie theaters and have turned off movies if I was seriously disturbed by something on the screen. It's easy to do. Very easy.)

But demanding that only what YOU like be available for public consumption? Where have you been living for the past hundreds of years? No society has been built wherein everyone agrees on everything. You have the right to not watch something, but you don't have the right to dictate that Bob can't come in and watch it, if he so chooses. If we lived by their rules, we'd have to sit and stare at blank walls. And even then we'd have to argue about if the walls should be white, blue, green, red...

(This is a big topic and can go in many directions, but that is the short and quick version. There is a lot more involved, such as whether a library should stock pornographic or exceedingly violent novels or movies, but that's a larger issue than I'm willing to go into over comments.)

Nicholas said...

Yeah, it's ridiculous. I can't believe that so many people fail to grasp this concept. I mean, these people honestly come in thinking that just because something offended THEM, we should not have it. Libraries have always seemed like the safest place in the world to me, a place I could call a refuge more than maybe any church I have been to. I think this is because I came from such a strict background, having to hide basically anything I enjoyed for fear of it being taking away (even my "too violent" Transformers and GI Joes). I always knew that the library would have anything I wanted to look at, and no one there would even notice what I was reading let alone care. I guess in a society where people have the free time to picket Harry Potter releases there are people who do "care".
The situation does certainly get more tangled when you bring in the pornographic or ultraviolent angle, though. I guess this is the whole obscenity vs. decency thing. And one can't simply say that something should have artistic value to be in a library because that starts a whole new argument about what actually has artistic merit. I am pretty sure that more than a few of the novels, films, or CDs we carry don't have much if any artistic value, but I still think we should carry them. Maybe others disagree, though. I definitely think written words should be allowed a more liberal standard than images (which stick longer with me, too). I wouldn't want anyone saying a book should be banned from the library because of content...but a film seems different. I'm not sure why. The reason seems obvious, but also intangible all at once.

John T. Meche III said...

hmm..two comments here.

I think I'm going to take the intellectual high ground here and say that while I don't like the idea of Christians getting all riled up because there are homosexuals in a movie, I do think that the entertainment industry tries it's hardest to advance a homosexual agenda. Now why do they come off so strong? Because they stereotype anyone who doesn't agree with homosexuality as a bible thumping redneck. If they can assume that we're stupid as a prerequisite, then they can dismiss any notion that we actually have valid arguments. So much of the industry is just about shock value. In the past 8 months I've really started to lose the desire to be "entertained". I still watch a few TV shows, but my DVD collection has definitely stagnated. I just can't do it any more.

Second comment. If the church operated according to scripture in America and not according to American culture, homosexuality would be treated the same as alcohol addiction or any other habitual sin, but since the church operates mainly on a cultural level and not a biblical level, homosexuality is stigmatized and it somehow the worst possible sin. I think people would accept a repentant murder into their congregation before they accepted a repentant homosexual, and I think they would accept an unrepentant alcoholic before a repentant homosexual, which is a tragedy. If a homosexual goes to hell, it is not because he's a homosexual, it's because he's an unrepentant sinner.

FYI I'm not a bigot. I have a gay uncle whom I love very much. I've known plenty of homosexuals. The issue isn't that I'm prejudiced in some fashion. The issue is sin. All sin is either paid for on the cross or it's paid for in hell. That includes mine. I don't place myself above any homosexual, because if all I had done wrong was screw some guy up the bum, then I would be a much better person than I am. As it is I'm pretty much the worst person I know, and it will only be by the grace and mercy of a just and loving God that I do not pay the penalty for my crimes...but I digress...

Nicholas said...

You are definitely the absolute opposite of what I think of when I hear the word bigot.
I agree with you on the Christian stereotyping thing. It does seem as if every Christian in a film involving homosexuals is either:
A. The meanest, cruelest person alive who hates homosexuals, or
B. The meanest, cruelest person alive who hates homosexuals, and also a closeted homosexual
I think this ignorant point of view is propagated by a group of people who have no idea what they are talking about. I have only recently come upon a secular media figure that actually gets that the majority of Christians are loving, caring people who just want the best for the world, of whom I will blog of later.
The other day someone at the library was lamenting the low circulation of gay romance novels in the library. I commented that, as some studies have shown that only about 2-5% of the population of Baton Rouge is gay, we can't expect to have gay materials flying off the shelf. I think the recent over saturation of homosexual characters in film and TV has to do with the fact that they were underrepresented before and the media feels like it needs to overcompensate now, and also something else I will get to in a second.
I have actually noticed lately a trend in the underrepresentation of other minorities. For instance, I recently watched an Ashley Judd film titled Double Jeopardy (basically a modern Citizen Cane or Gone With the Wind...not really) some of which was filmed in pre-Katrina New Orleans. I was quite startled to see that throughout most of the New Orleans scenes, no black people were featured. NONE. It was as if they were ushered out of the scenes when the camera came on. Maybe this was why so many people out of the area were shocked to see that the majority of Katrina victims in NO were black.
In fact, after the recent addition of a black firefighter to Rescue Me, one of my favorite shows, I suddenly realized that it took four seasons for the New York City based show (which I honestly love) to have a black character.
I think this is circular. The media, for whatever reason, gives one minority group overexposure, and forgets about the rest. It is like they only care and represent what is hot. I have a feeling after a while we will see a lot less homosexual characters in our TV shows and films, perhaps even an underrepresentation, because they will be replaced by whatever other minority is currently hot. All this to say, the media sucks. If they ever get a consistently accurate picture of humanity going, I think it will be entirely by accident.

Anonymous said...

Man that's dumb.


jess said...

I keep wondering why certain "sins" in our society tend to become hot topics, wherein Christians forget to "love the sinner, hate the sin" and just hate everything and everyone involved in the sin. Homosexuality definitely comes to mind here. I keep wondering why people get more riled up when someone has sex with a person of the same sex and don't care nearly enough when a parent beats or kills his/her own child. I don't understand how being gay is worse than mistreating your child. Seriously.

And, as far as imagery vs. text, my physical therapist was telling me (in one of our first sessions) that she allows her teenaged daughter to read pretty much anything, which shocked members of her church. Her example has resonated with me. She said, "If my daughter reads the word 'rape' and there is a literary description of rape, I think she can handle that. I don't think she could handle SEEING a rape happening in detail on the screen without having those images with her for the rest of her life." We tend to be visual. Images I've seen stick in my head for years, forever maybe, wherein things I've read I have to make up the imagery for. If it's disturbing enough to read, my mind doesn't even go there. At all. However, if I see a disturbing image in a movie, sometimes my mind takes it further. Example: the face-stomping scene in American History X. That, to this day, conjures a horrific image that wasn't even in the movie, but my gut can take it that extra leap just by seeing what IS portrayed. If I had read about it, I probably wouldn't have had such a strong and immediate reaction and, in fact, may not have visualized the scene at all, since it disturbs me so.

jordazn said...

you right dude, your so right. long live italians, cuz
i hate them gays!

Anonymous said...

im gay and i dont think that ALL Christians hate gay people and i also think that the media is pushing the "homosexual" themed movies so that ,hopefully, people will get more used to gay people because we are just like any straight person we just are sexually attracted to different things it like some straight people are atracted to heavyset people and some gays are too so i guess its just a fetish its not anything we can choose.
also doesnt the bible say to love everyone and would i go to hell for loveing or would you for hateing?