Sunday I posted about a blatantly transphobic and homophobic episode of Family Guy spinoff, The Cleveland Show. I criticized GLAAD for immediately denouncing an episode of South Park that used the word "faggot" repeatedly to illustrate how stupid the word is, but not uttering a peep about the Cleveland Show.
While I e-mailed GLAAD about the episode and didn't get a response, it was a short work week because of the Thanskgiving holiday. That said, the episode aired on Sunday evening and GLAAD had the time to point out the hypocrisy of Good Morning America's Adam Lambert mini-scandal after his AMA performance on Monday night.
Projectors questioned GLAAD's commitment to trans issues in the comments section and pointed out other occasions that the org had dropped the ball on transphobia. Yesterday evening, GLAAD responded - both directly via e-mail and on their own blog.
Here's what they have to say:
Rich Ferraro, GLAAD's Director of Public Relations, e-mailed this statement to me:
Our Director of Entertainment Media, Taj Paxton, had a meeting with producers of The Cleveland Show and Family Guy scheduled and also contacted them after this specific episode aired. The meeting is set for next week. It is part of an ongoing discussion that GLAAD is having with Fox regarding consistent homophobic and transphobic jokes in its animated programming. The problematic transgender episode is one of several instances that Taj and her team will be discussing with them - as well as advocating for more fair LGBT inclusion on the show.
Taj's post to the GLAAD blog also outlines a laundry list of recent trans issues that the org has worked on.
My partner, Jerame, sent me an e-mail about the post and GLAAD's response last night and he makes several good points:
I don't think anyone is saying GLAAD isn't working on trans issues. Rather, I think what I've read and how I feel about this is that GLAAD has so far been silent on such blatant and over the top transphobia on the Cleveland Show in light of the hullabaloo they made over the relatively tame South Park episode about the word "Faggot".
...Cleveland is on a broadcast network with far more viewers than Comedy Central and South Park. In terms of access to homophobic or transphobic material, The Cleveland Show is far more accessible to average Americans than South Park because it is aired on FOX and not Comedy Central.
...South Park's largest audience ever was 3.7 million viewers for an episode bemoaning how bad the last Indiana Jones movie was. The Cleveland Show debuted with 9.4 million viewers, which was more than The Simpsons for that night and only slightly less than Family Guy on the same night. I couldn't find numbers for that particular episode, but being wedged between The Simpsons and Family Guy gives the show a good shot at landing between 8 and 10 million viewers each week.
It actually makes me a bit more disappointed to find out that GLAAD has been having an ongoing discussion with FOX about its animated programming. Why? Because if this is something that's been on GLAAD's radar for some time - and all they've done is schedule another conversation - this episode of Cleveland proves GLAAD isn't being taken seriously by FOX and maybe it's time to change to change tactics.
Which leads me to a question for Projectors... Many of you are unhappy with GLAAD's handling of trans issues in the media. They've listed ways they've been working for accurate and fair media representations of trans folk, but several folks listed problematic television shows that the org missed.
At the same time, I e-mailed a link to my story about the Cleveland Show to several prominent LGBT bloggers and only AfterElton picked up the story, so it's not just GLAAD that's missing opportunities to educate about trans issues. Our own community is giving the story short shrift. In fact, I got several e-mails - mostly from gay men - who didn't see anything transphobic about the episode and wrote to ask what was wrong with it.
So, what's the solution? How can the org do better? GLAAD is obviously listening to our criticism, so why not make it constructive? If it's time for GLAAD to change tactics when dealing with FOX's animated line-up, what new tactic should they pursue?
And how do we get our own media outlets to pick up trans stories with the same outrage they gave to Adam Lambert's AMA performance and the subsequent Good Morning America brouhaha?