|The New Animation
Never Published (March 2005)
Imagine the scene: Spongebob Squarepants is singing a happy song, skipping his way down the streets of his watery home, holding hands with best buddy Patrick Star, the pink starfish. Suddenly, they are confronted by fuddy-duddy neighbor Squidward Tentacles, who shouts at them for touching each other that way! Spongebob and Patrick recoil in horror, looking at their hands, realizing the terrible sin they’ve committed. Safely separated from each other—and from any latent homosexual urges—they sit and pray quietly for forgiveness.
Welcome to future of American animation.
The ridiculous assault on cartoons and children’s programs by the so-called moral crusaders of the right continues. Having already accused a happy sponge of secretly advancing the “gay agenda” of tolerance, Focus on the Family shifted its broadsides to Postcards from Buster, a PBS show that had the temerity to show a real-life happy, lesbian couple, a scene that does not conform to the straw-man image of homosexual promiscuity that this group and others like it attempt to fashion out of rumor and fear mongering. Perhaps they should change their name to Focus on Sex.
It amuses me that these organizations see secret agendas all over the place. The latest target is the movie Shreck 2, which features a very masculine ugly step-sister, a character the Traditional Values Coalition claims is transgendered. Possibly they are correct, but I watched the movie the other night and that didn’t occur to me. More to the point, would it occur to children? Do they even know what transgendered means?
I’m reminded of medieval penitentials, texts that prescribed specific punishments for a range of sins committed against God and the church. Strangely enough, regular folks could have used the penitentials as manuals for all sorts of interesting deviant acts. It seems that the celibate monks who wrote these texts thought an awful lot about sex, spending their days dreaming up new and interesting ways to sin, then quickly devising punishments to correct those same sins.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Most people are completely undisturbed by Spongebob, and consider him a fine character for their children to watch. But the anti-gay media police sees conspiracy and innuendo in every corner, in every shadow. As the Vancouver Sun recently pointed out, would these groups have complained about Bugs Bunny cross-dressing to avoid the inept Elmer Fudd during rabbit season? The truth is, if you’re looking for something that hard, you’re much more likely to find it, even if it isn’t actually there.
Of course, this all goes back to the nature vs. nurture debate on homosexuality. If it is true, as the religious right would have us believe, that homosexuality is simply a choice that people make, a choice that they would be able to give up if they only tried hard enough, then exposing our children to the idea that homosexuality is OK, that it does not, in fact, lead to the highway to hell, will drive them all to “be gay.” The fact that there is no proof to support this hypothesis is irrelevant. Fear is the driving force behind the whole anti-gay movement, fear of the different, of the unknown.
Homosexuals “choose” to be homosexual for the same reason black people choose to be black: because they are. They have every right to be proud of what they are, and no one should try to force them to be something else, no more than we would try to force a black man to be white.
Now the FCC is being used as a tool of intimidation and censorship, barring perfectly legitimate broadcasts because of the prurient interests of a small minority of people who, in many cases, may not even have seen the program in question. When stations are afraid to run movies like “Saving Private Ryan” because of these illegitimate “concerns,” it seems obvious things have gone too far. We should not need the government to tell us that children shouldn’t watch a graphic war movie, nor should they ban it from being seen by responsible adults.
Everyone has the right to not watch what they don’t want to see, but that right does not extend to stopping me or anyone else from seeing what we want to watch. Turn off the TV, stay at home, and read a book. Maybe a penitential will broaden your mind.
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