May 1997
s m u g
three dollar bill
by Willie Love


Blame It on the Man

Leslie begged me not to write about "Ellen" and her coming out episode. As I started tapping out a dissection of the homosexual undertones of the new Arena football posters and how it gave me wood the first time and made feel sort of sick on each subsequent viewing, a strange thing happened. My doorbell rang and the voice said it was FedEx saying I had a package to sign for. When I arrived at the bottom of the steps, two men in dark suits were waiting for me, and pushed me up against the railing of the stairs. I guess they must have said the feds, but the intercom is a little fuzzy. The "package" was a PR kit from the Ellen show.

They then continued to "chat" with me about the importance of contributing to the full on media blitz and how my country was depending on me. I had always dreamed of one of these visits, and let me tell you, in my mind the experience always played out a lot differently, but this is not the time or the place to detail my dreams of "Willie and the G-men."

Sorry, Leslie, this one's about...


Ever since it was determined that Ellen would come out on her show, and that her character would be heretofore officially a lesbian, it has stirred the cockles of the gay and lesbian community. Overall, the responses I have heard have been mixed. There are those who see this as a cartoonish mockery of the gay and lesbian experience (as if there were some sort of uniform experience we were all having) and those who think it's a positive step for representation in the straight media - another step towards acceptance of homosexuality.

Ellen is a funny person. I don't mean "funny" in the three dollar bill sense, although she certainly is that too, but I mean she's a comedienne. So it seems to me that the lesbian thing will likely be served up in the "Very Special Blossom" style that TV watchers have come to know and fear through the last 10 years since the creators of Diff'rent Strokes decided that it would be sensitive of them to show us that it's more than laughter, it's learning. If I want to learn, I will watch the Discovery channel, or read a book. If I want to laugh, I guess watching Ellen has been removed from my list of options.


This is by no means the first prime time sitcom to address homosexuality - I think we all painfully remember Three's Company and the downright wacky humor in Jack Tripper, the sensitive chef having to pretend he was gay to keep his apartment, lest staid and conservative Mr. Roper kick him out. I think that was actually far more progressive thinking, in that it depicted homosex as a desirable alternative without throwing all the scandal of "lesbian kisses" in our faces.

The Jack Tripper character was gay - granted only when Mr. Roper was looking, but in his assuming the gay pose, he found acceptance. It was simply a matter of being non-threatening and there not being anything negative attached to striking the homo pose, in fact, clear benefits. I will be the first to admit that the overly effeminate mugging was overdone, but remember, this was the seventies, and Three's Company was overdone in lot of other ways as well. Everyone was a caricature in one way or another, so that would have been out of place if it was handled any differently.


I can only assume that the full on press onslaught of the Ellen show is releasing factoids at a rate of one per day. While this can be an exceptionally effective tactic, in this case - for what will only amount to 22 minutes of actual, and I use the term loosely, "entertainment" - one fact per day for 90 days is far more than we need, and already, with lots more days to go by the time the show airs, we will already feel like we have seen it. It's become tiresome, and I feel as if I've seen Ellen kiss Laura Dern 100 times already, and the show has yet to air. While this is an extremely fine example of the power of having a good publicist, it's boring now, and any of the frisson of excitement has gone flat, even for my het male friends who enjoy nothing more than anything that so much as alludes to the love between two women.

Pic of 
Laura and Ellen


We already have a lesbian in prime time anyway, a lovely pair - on Friends the infernal show depicting young attractive people living beyond their means in New York City. Ross' ex-wife and her lesbian lover are raising a child and it's far more interesting to see the Ross character struggle with that role - co-parenting with a lesbian couple, than it will be to see Ellen dating girls. Ellen DeGeneres is a funny and talented woman, as far as I can tell, and it just seems to me that her enemies would have been far more productively utilized to simply make the show better to revive sluggish ratings.


On sheer principal, I'm not tuning in. I may tape it though, just for the sheer satisfaction of taping an old episode of CHiPs over it. Now that's a set of homosexual undertones that I can enjoy, and I do mean that in the dirty way.

Willie Love, c/o


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