Scientists (and Michael Slezak) are still struggling to understand exactly what went wrong with this last season of American Idol. Was it the lack of talent? Was it all the judicial activism? Was it just the cultural hangover from the unbeatable season 8? Well, my friends, wonder no longer: it’s the homosexuality, stupid! According to Gary McCullough, the director of Christian Newswire and probably a laugh riot at parties, Idol‘s ratings decline is directly linked to Ellen DeGeneres, who spent the whole season rubbing her lesbian activism right in our helpless faces.
Yes, the charming McCullough (who has an adorable smile that will haunt your children’s nightmares) thinks that America just doesn’t like to see “alternate lifestyles” in its family programming. And how did Ms. DeGeneres go about her brilliant plan of turning the once relentlessly-hetero Idol into the reality show version of Fire Island? Well, there was that time she said, “Yes, I have loved a woman.” And, you know, all the other gay stuff she did. Gay stuff! Gay Panic! Screech!
“I can hear the bloggers loading their homophobe-blasters,” McCullough writes, “but think this through with me: If one of the judges was an abortion activist, or a political right winger — and continued to insert comments in line with their activism — the same criticism would be true, and the show would suffer. The advice, ‘Shut up and sing!’ comes to mind.” (Pause. Think of the puns we missed out on by the producers’ choice to not have an abortion activist judge! “Big Mike, I support the right to choose, and I would have chosen to terminate your last performance in utero.” Zing!)
Now, not to get all blogger here, but allow me for a moment to load up my homophobe-blaster, which I keep in my desk right next to my anti-anti-semite rocket launcher and my pack of anti-misogyny grenades. Calling someone a “lesbian activist” just because they’re an out-and-proud, happily married gay woman is like me calling Gary McCullough a “crazy christian centaur who will steal your children from their beds if you don’t rub lamb’s blood on their doorway” just because he’s rude. Hyperbole much, Gare Bear?
For that matter, yeesh, look at the TV ratings! The biggest breakout hit of last TV season was Glee, which is a whirling candy-colored hurricane of homosexuality. It’s probably the gayest TV show ever not made for Showtime. Or, good god, what about sitcom breakout Modern Family, 1/3 of which features gay husbands with a newly-adopted baby? (Not to mention that the biggest hit of the TV season, period, was Dancing With the Stars, which features activities the whole traditional family can enjoy, like wearing sequins, dancing, and wearing sequins.)
McCullough talks a lot in his article about how only certain kinds of “family entertainment” are embraced by the public – implicitly, the “family entertainment” that doesn’t feature any gay people. (He mentions Pixar, perhaps forgetting that Ellen DeGeneres practically built the whole second act of her career off of her vocal performance in Finding Nemo.) This strikes me as being rather unfair. After all, the most popular sitcom in America stars an oft-divorced, oft-rehabbed convict, and America doesn’t seem to mind. And come on! Let’s not forget that the much-praised season 8 of Idol featured Adam Freaking Lambert.
So McCullough is wrong. Wrong in pure logistical business sense – the biggest new music star of the year is the flamboyantly bisexual Lady Gaga. Wrong in an actual-reality sense – we can disagree about how good or bad a judge Ellen was this season, but she certainly didn’t use her pulpit to whisper evil gay incantations into the ears of innocent American teenagers. She was just herself, onscreen. And thanks to people like McCullough (who rounds out his article by comparing her to Roman Polanski in a thought experiment so ridiculous that it made my brain implode), “just being herself” is a pretty damn brave thing to be.