Monday, March 24, 2008

Gay is the New Dissonant (or Something)

Well, if no one else is going to answer the questions or gripe at the sanctimoniousness of this morning's post, I might as well.

So, er, [new voice]: I saw Love Songs, too - same show, same theater - and I have a few bones to pick. First, you might've explained that the theater, The Paris, was less than half-full at the time of viewing - your uncouth masses probably amounting to no more than 5 to 10 people. You might also have mentioned that the Paris is on 57th Street - just south of Central Park and the Plaza Hotel, and just west of swanky Fifth Ave: i.e. prime tourist country. If you want to get a more realistic sense of New Yorkers' reactions to gay sex, you might've done better downtown - and on a day other than Easter.

More important, the scene you mentioned involved more than just kissing. Those boys (one of them still in high school) kissed (vigorously), but also stripped down to their boxers and rubbed and licked and made ridiculous faces - all while singing b-grade musical theater. No genitalia, granted, but were it just a kiss as you implied, the reaction might not have been so violent.

Your comment about people feeling "comfortable" expressing themselves publicly about gay sex also seems off. Those groans and laughs are a symptom of profound discomfort, no? Now, this doesn't excuse it, particularly in a public forum, but remember: even in 2008, even in outre French cinema (which this was not), male-on-male love scenes are relatively rare. The ratio of straight kisses to gay kisses on screen must be something like 10,000:1, right?

People have always struggled with the new and unexpected. I was reminded reading Carl Wilson's amazing Celine Dion meditation, that even the exalted liberal Parisians met Stravinsky's Rite of Spring with a near-riot at its premier. What you don't hear about so often is that people became acclimated to Stravinsky's dissonances relatively quickly. Within the year it was being cheered in French concert halls; in 1940, Walt Disney programmed it alongside Bach and Tchaikovsky in Fantasia.

Now, should you be looking out for cheerful sodomy on Nick at Nite any time soon? Of course not. But are things likely getting better than worse? The answer to that seems obvious, too.


jake said...

At the risk of seeming schizo (and pathetic), I will just add quickly that I don't mean to equate the venom of a homophobe with the venom of a conservative concertgoer, nor the pain endured by homosexuals (or those close to them) with the pain of Stravinsky or his partisans. I only mean to say that tastes change, and the sort of progress that allows for the Rite in a Disney film, or hell, a steamy homo love scene in a middling French musical, ain't nothing to sniff at.

Schnookums said...

When did you start posting again? It's good to have you back.