January 8, 2006

BUTT OF THE JOKE:

Why are liberals laughing?: Brokeback Mountain has unleashed another round of lame -- and homophobic -- jokes (LIAM LACEY, January 5, 2006, Globe & Mail)

What's interesting about the gay cowboy jokes on television recently is, generally, there's no joke. Instead, we get a banal repetition of the idea that the rural, taciturn, masculine, traditional-cowboy stereotype could be confused with its urban, expressive, effeminate opposite. Two years ago, Cartman noted on South Park that American indie films are all about "gay cowboys eating pudding."

More than 25 years after the urban cowboy movement, the Village People and organizations such as the International Gay Rodeo Association, the idea of cowboy homosexuality shouldn't be that remarkable. Still, the comedians keep beating that dead bronco. Saturday Night Live, on the Dec. 10 episode, featured host Alec Baldwin and Will Forte as two gold prospectors who fall in love, caress each other, smell each other's long johns and ignore a visiting prostitute before cavorting under the covers. That's it: They're old and unattractive and they're gay. On SNL's Weekend Update, Tina Fey told a joke which she said was given to her by her father, describing Brokeback Mountain as a groundbreaking western because "the good guys get it in the end" (nudge, nudge). Similarly, Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson posed as a cowboy in which he described one of his guns as great and the other one as "fabulous" which, presumably, is a word you wouldn't expect a taciturn cowboy to use.

Similarly, Jay Leno proffers this feeble offering: "Hey, just a week to go until Elton John's wedding. You know where Elton's honeymooning? Brokeback Mountain." That would be because Elton John's gay so he would honeymoon in a gay place? David Letterman, whose homophobia is at best a staple of his comic persona (remember Richard Simmons's appearances?), has turned Brokeback Mountain into a running gag: "I'm sort of worried about Uncle Earl. He wants us all to go out and see the gay cowboy movie." Or: "Time has named former presidents Bush and Clinton the partners of the year. These two are now so close they're thinking about making a cowboy movie." Then there was his Top 10 Signs You're a Gay Cowboy ("Instead of a saloon, you prefer a salon. . . .")

The culmination of the Letterman shtick, so far, was the appearance by Nathan Lane (promoting a rival film, The Producers), who presented his proposed new Broadway musical, David Letterman Presents Brokeback, in which Lane sang parodies of a number of songs like You're the Top and Oklahoma (yes, Oklahomo) to dancing cowboys pretending to hump each other. Letterman's liberal credentials are as good as many other multimillionaires' -- like most other comedians, he mocks the stupidities of the U.S. government and the culture of celebrity which has made his fortune. But like a lot of liberal comics today, he's far more willing to make gay jokes than indulge in similarly discriminatory ethnic or religious material.

A tragic love story about the consequences of bigotry, Brokeback Mountain is a liberal cause célèbre, but it's liberalism with a catch: On one hand, here is the movie that affirms the entertainment industry's reputation for tolerance and social progress. But it's followed all-too-quickly by the side-of-the-mouth wisecracks.


It's interesting that the term we use for opposition to buggery is homophobia, with its suggestion that people fear homosexuality, rather than hold it in contempt, as the humor more accurately suggests.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 8, 2006 11:59 PM
Comments

Letterman's liberal credentials are as good as many other multimillionaires' -- like most other comedians, he mocks the stupidities of the U.S. government and the culture of celebrity which has made his fortune. But like a lot of liberal comics today, he's far more willing to make gay jokes than indulge in similarly discriminatory ethnic or religious material.

The first sentence is spot-on; however, the second sentence is just plain wrong. Nobody makes fun of religious people, sure.

Posted by: pchuck at January 9, 2006 11:15 AM

Cartman's line was funny.

Posted by: RC at January 9, 2006 11:37 AM

"Time has named former presidents Bush and Clinton the partners of the year. These two are now so close they're thinking about making a cowboy movie."

LOL.

Posted by: Bob at January 9, 2006 1:08 PM

The word for "hate" in Greek is misos, as in "misanthrope" or "misogynist". If those people who came up with "homophobia" had been semi-literate, instead of good little Freudians, they'd have followed that line and used the Greek word for "man-to-man-love" ("Homosexual" is also one of those coined words.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 9, 2006 1:29 PM

Raoul: Bingo! Got it! Great idea!

"Misarsenocist" from "arsenokoites"--see, Strong's Greek lexicon, no. 733.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 9, 2006 2:35 PM

Letterman's liberal credentials are as good as many other multimillionaires' -- like most other comedians, he mocks the stupidities of the U.S. government and the culture of celebrity which has made his fortune.

Maybe he is a liberal, but how do those identifying features make him one? Those are qualities I would expect to find more frequently amongst conservatives than liberals.


But like a lot of liberal comics today, he's far more willing to make gay jokes than indulge in similarly discriminatory ethnic or religious material.

The interesting thing about liberals is that their belief in progress makes them think we'll eventually reach a point where people won't find gay jokes funny.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 9, 2006 8:11 PM
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