We, as a culture, have such an interesting relationship with celebrities. We plan our schedules around them, stay up late for them. We know more about our favourites than we do half our family members. We are so dedicated and yet so fickle. One wrong move and they are out on their asses in the street of the has-beens. We take obscene pleasure in their demise.
It isn’t a celebrity’s job to be perfect, but somehow it is. It isn’t our job to judge, but somehow it is.
The Emmys took place earlier this month and it got me thinking about Isaiah Washington, the actor formerly of Grey’s Anatomy, who was canned by ABC for calling his coworker, TR Knight, a “faggot” behind the scenes and then lying about it.
To be honest I would like to know as little as possible about actors, especially the good ones who star in shows I actually like. Actors are vessels — they deliver lines written by people who never get any credit. They act and, in my ideal world, that is all they would do. I don’t want to think of them as people with closets that may contain things that would cause me not to like them or cause networks to swing axes so I don’t get to watch them act anymore.
But only ordinary people get to just go to work and come home again. Celebrities have their closets cleaned by the general public and, like all of our closets, theirs contain hypocrisies, lies and embarrassments.
I can imagine the headlines if I was a celebrity. “Supposed vegetarian devours smoked ribs.” “Out writer fails to disclose marriage to Nono Stramaglia!” “Think this is a ‘Natural Woman’? We went through her trash and guess what we found!”
I could care less if Isaiah Washington is homophobic. Shut your mouth and act, that’s what I say. I didn’t turn on the TV to watch Washington’s private views on the queers, I turned it on to watch Grey’s Anatomy.
Is that morally irresponsible? Is it selfish? I am much more offended by the damn L-Word which makes a porno of lesbian life and a mockery of butch identity. The fact that most of the actors aren’t actually lesbians isn’t the issue. The show is the issue.
I’ve heard rumours that Matthew Good is a really big asshole but I won’t throw his albums away. On the one hand I scour the city for fair-trade coffee and then buy running shoes without even checking where they were manufactured. I dance with my partner to misogynist hip hop and still have an awesome time.
Ignorance really is bliss sometimes.
I have been reading Osho, the 20th-century spiritual leader who says that we only experience pain when the things that happen clash with our ideas about what should have happened. For example I think of myself as a patient person, so I feel pain when I get impatient. On top of feeling impatient I feel disappointed in myself and therefore angry at myself and therefore pained… you get the drift.
I expect famous actors to be egotistical, self-absorbed and less than moral superstars, so when one of them is found to be homophobic, I barely react. Sure it sucks but it hardly rocks my queer foundation. I would be much angrier if it were my boss, my cousin, my doctor, the prime minister.
Of course calling someone a faggot is despicable. But we queers have bigger fish to fry than celebrity fuck-ups and, frankly, more threatening sources to worry about. Our local MPPs for example. Our children’s nannies. Our buddies from high school. Our own grandfathers.
We’re so busy expelling anyone who offends us from our TV screens, why don’t we also work on getting rid of or, better yet, correcting the offences that take place in our own backyards?
Everyone rushes to the defence of gay actor TR Knight, who only has an entire television network to back him up, and yet we barely blink as relatively defenceless people are abused all around us. We don’t ask for the Pope’s resignation every time — or anytime — he says something homophobic. He is never shunned at parties, asked to issue public apologies, asked to do PSAs. He is honoured all over the world. Does that make sense?
There is a quote from a storybook stuck to the wall at my workplace that says, “And then it was kitten-sized again.” Call me uninspired, but there are enough kittens in my back alley to keep me busy without going after The Lion King.