Discomfort with Activist Sex Scenes

I was always hesitant to watch the show “Modern Family.” I was worried about how much of it was activist television and how much was actual comedy. To be fair, calling it “Modern Family” and having a gay couple with an adopted child is pushing the cause just a little bit, but that’s Hollywood for you. However, when I watched the show, I discovered something. It was, actually, a funny show. I tend to agree with the left-leaning pop culture review site, The AV Club, on just how hit or miss and often disjointed the show can seem from episode to episode, but, overall, there’s at least a couple laughs in every episode.

The thing that makes the show watchable is that it isn’t pushing the lifestyle on you. It’s written around stereotypes, and the jokes hit on them in wildly successful ways. There is, most importantly, no forcing of sexualized scenes on the audience when it comes to the gay couple. In fact, they are the least sexual couple on the show.

Billy Crystal is currently being attacked by the Left for disagreeing with programming that forces that sexualization onto the audience. There is an especially fantastic piece over at the Huffington Post that encapsulates why some might feel uncomfortable.

On Sunday, while promoting his new FX show “The Comedians” at a Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour panel, Billy Crystal was asked about playing a gay role on the ABC show “Soap” in the late ’70s and how television has changed since that time.

In his response, the comedian talked about being uncomfortable with how sexualized some shows have become and, in doing so, employed a few phrases like “a little too far for my tastes” and “shove it in our face” that always trip my homophobia sensors and make me want to protest by grabbing every man in sight by whatever appendage is handiest and dragging them into a studio to stage a gay sex telethon that will be broadcast into the living rooms of every family in the world.

Apparently, that is a reasonable reaction to someone being uncomfortable with sex scenes on television. Yes, his follow-up quote sounds like he is specifically referring to gay sex scenes, but I can’t think of any movie he’s been in that really had any major sexualization in it. The activist Left, however, is hell-bent on tearing this man down because he is uncomfortable with certain scenes. For folks (like me) who are squishy on the issue of gay marriage, this is the kind of behavior that turns us off the movement.

The author fails to note, however, that Crystal’s role in Soap was incredibly controversial (the entire show was, as a matter of fact, and it is well-detailed on Wikipedia) (as a true scholar, I will not use Wikipedia as a source, so look it up on your own). What Crystal was accused of being a part of back then is exactly what he is seeing now, and he does not like what it’s become.

To believe it is really an acceptable response to go and televise all the gay sex in order to make everyone see it is not normal, not reasonable, and certainly not “looking out for each other,” as the author of the HuffPo piece discusses. On the secular side of things, the culture is not quite ready to accept that reality. “Modern Family” doesn’t sexualize its gay couple at all. The shows that come close are, largely, not on basic cable. On the religious side of things, those who practice their faith in the traditional sense (there are a lot more who do than the media would like you to believe) will reject it almost every time.

Whether it is a matter of discomfort or a matter of faith, the U.S. has a culture that is not as open to the idea of gay sexuality on television as you are told to believe. When the question of gay marriage is asked, what’s the response you hear? “Oh, they should be happy, too” or “They deserve equal rights.” People are talking about marriage, and don’t think about the sexual side of it. If you polled the question centered around the concept of sexuality, there is likely to be more hesitation to answer. Americans are still conservative when it comes to the idea of sex.

Does that necessitate that we force it on them? Does it mean we drive them from the public square if they don’t like it or approve of it? If you think it does… well, maybe the problem isn’t Billy Crystal’s concern with activist sex scenes.