Davina Kotulski

Hollywood & Homophobia: How Far Have We Come?

Filed By Davina Kotulski | October 26, 2013 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: 2 1/2 Men, homophobia, media criticism, sitcoms, studio audience

Hollywood signLast Friday I attended a taping of 2 ½ Men on the Warner Brother's lot. I'd never seen the show before, but I won VIP tickets for donating to an organization to cure cancer. I'd also never been to a TV taping with a live studio audience and was excited to see how Hollywood did its thing (even though I wished they were Ellen tickets).

We marched single file on to the studio lot, going through various security check points and into the studio about an hour before the live taping. There was a stand-up comedian announcer-guy who gave us laugh instructions. Then they showed us a previous episode where they again coached us on how to laugh. Throughout the show he did magic tricks, told bad jokes, and tried to hypnotize audience members all to keep us in our seats and providing a good laugh track.

I was surprised to learn that there was a lesbian character on the show. Amber Tamblyn plays Jenny, the lesbian daughter of Charlie Sheen's deceased character, who has moved to LA to become an actress. Jenny goes through girls like Pringles. Unlike Alan, Jenny easily picks up hot chicks and has sex with them, sometimes without even knowing their names. She's as crass as the dudes on the show. In Season 11, Episode 6, the episode I saw live, she is likened to a lesbian zombie "Must have vagina!" It seems like objectifying women and treating them like stupid bimbos is a free for all to both sexes on the show.

While I give them credit for having a lesbian character, the male characters seem to make a surprising number of homophobic jokes. I guess they think that if they have a gay character it somehow makes it acceptable to make gay jokes. I'm curious to know what regular LGBT viewers think of the jokes and the new lesbian character.

On another note, GLAAD took Hollywood's Universal Studios to task this month. Universal Studios received numerous complaints about their show "Bill and Ted's Halloween Adventure" which was discontinued because of its horrible anti-gay jokes, as well as rape jokes. Clearly watchdog media groups are still needed because LGBT people continue to be the butt of jokes and our lives are still not adequately portrayed in the media.

All puns and bad joking aside, it was fascinating to watch the process unfold as they shot scene after scene and measured different lines on the proverbial laugh-o-meter with the live studio audience. The number of people involved in the show's creation was also amazing. There were at least 40 people on the set at various times, handing Jon Cryer a new bagel for each retake of the kitchen scene, refilling the coffee pot, using a tape measure to measure where the actors were standing in the previous take of the scene. It was clear that "The Industry" as it's called here, provides a lot of job opportunities.

I look forward to more shows with LGBT characters that have more substance. I'm behind in my TV viewing, however I hear there's a show called the Fosters about a lesbian couple who take in foster children that may be more balanced. I'm curious to hear if any of you watch the show and what you think of the portrayal of LGBT people in the media.

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