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"I think you’ve already figured out I’m not the poster boy for normal."
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March 19 2004 interviews Bryan Fuller, co-creator of Wonderfalls. Candid (slightly spoilery) interview that references BtVS and also reveals some of Dead Like Me's behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

"The network’s standards and practices have told us that we cannot have them kiss on-screen."

(OT: Sometimes I just want to bang my head against a wall repeatedly with all this stupidity. Have I lived through the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's just to end up in a world that remains this conservative? Freedom my arse.)

It could be argued that the people making the tv rules are all REALLY old, hanging on to those '50s conservative values. When they go away, things might change :)
I hope the show deals with the characters sexuality in the way he describes (ie, it is the secondary facet to the character). I hate it when it is turned into the plot device or is the main character trait.
Forgot to add - interesting to read that George's father was meant to be gay in Dead Like Me - didn't know that piece of trivia!
Yeah, that was what I was talking about - we had heard at the time that the dad was supposed to be gay, and it was hinted at in the first episode, I think. Then we heard that storyline had changed, but we never heard what happened exactly.

(We as in another web based community.)
I think it's ridiculous that the network won't show two women kissing on screen. Who, in this day and age, gives a damn? Then again, I wouldn't think seeing a breast for 5 seconds would be a big deal either, and apparently that was quite apocalyptic. I just think America needs to lighten up.
So is Fuller no longer connected with Dead Like Me at all?
Mindpieces, it was only three seconds; I ran back the tape and counted right after it happened. Unbelievable that such a teeny little blip of skin could cause so much sound and fury (signifying nothing). And it's even more unbelievable that JJ continues to be villified while accomplice-in-malfunction JT gets off scot-free. Janet's surprise exposure did not go unappreciated by some of us (meaning, at the very least, me and my husband), simply because it seemed to be the least fake part of the entire Super Bowl half-time show.

But there’s a lot of conservatism at the networks, because the networks are invariably run by conservative umbrella corporations that are not as liberal as the television employees.

You know, I knew this, and yet seeing it in print is like hearing it for the very first time. It explains so much about why everything is so sucky right now if you happen to hold any sort of opinion outside the politely accepted mainstream in America.
Because the subject of the breast came up again, I will again, say why it was offensive to a lot of people. First of all there is nothing wrong with the human body, the human body is a beautiful thing. But, when you are sitting down to a family orientated event, a sports event, not something on MTV, mind you, you do not expect nor should you have to see a bunch of people rubbing their crotches up against other peoples butts and grabbing their own crotches in what is a very sexualy suggestive show. And then to have a song that has very suggestive lyrics just as the guy is ripping off the female's top is extremely offensive for the fact that it isn't appropriate for the event it was in and because it was a violent sexual attack acted out on stage. So for the argument that it was "only 3 seconds" just doesn't fly with me. It was the whole half time show that ended with the exposed breast. And if anyone honestly believes that it was truly a "wardrobe malfunction" you need to have your heads examined. Brittney Spears is always doing outrageous stuff on stage and because it wasn't thrust down the throats of people who don't want to watch that stuff because she did it in an arena where you expect it, it's not a big deal to mainstream America. What happened at the Superbowl halftime show wasn't appropriate for that arena and the audience who was watching it.

I'm not a prude, I enjoy sex, I enjoy the human body, I like watching R-rated and sometimes X-rated movies, I like racy television programs such as Nip/Tuck but when I choose it. I don't think it's acceptable to use a nationally televised event to further your career and record sales regardless of who you may or may not offend. I would expect those types of performances on MTV or a music awards show but not a show that you are sitting down with children of all ages.

And what happened at the Superbowl shouldn't be compared to a television series. As someone who watches Nip/Tuck I expect to see nudity and very graphic and suggestive sex scenes. The show is known for that stuff. I certainly wouldn't sit down to watch it with a child because I know what's coming. No one knew what was coming for the superbowl show and it's obvious that it was a planned flashing.

Now for my opinion on this topic. Unfortunately, I don't think it's old people running the networks. I think a small, but vocal group of people, like some Christian groups (not all, just the ones who take everything too seriously) make a big stink every time they see something on TV that they don't like. They then organize their numbers and start letter campaigns complaining. With everything going on with the Gay marriage debate you can tell by the polls that the country is pretty much split down the middle not just on Gay marriage but in even giving Gays the rights to have civil unions and therefore, equal rights.

It seems to me that people were becoming more acceptable of gays on TV until this issue heated up and there now seems to be a backlash. And because of the backlash, I think networks are afraid to offend these very vocal, and well organized Christian groups. It's really sad that a small group have such control but, again, they are well organized.

But a lot of these polls also show that younger people are more accepting of gay relationships then older Americans so maybe in the near future when these kids are young adults things will change for the better.
There's a very interesting article in the latest issue of Bitch magazine about lesbian kisses on television. It's unfortunately not online yet so I can't link it but if folks come across the mag they might want to check it out. The writer makes an interesting point:

While it's wonderful to see yourself on TV, if TV is simply another realm in which cultural symbolism outpaces and overshadows real political progress, what's the point?

There are also references to BtVS and Willow&Tara, though she does mistakenly say that Willow was already a lesbian when the show started so there was no coming out process. Besides that mistake it's a very positive piece as far as the Willow/Tara example.
Very well said blwessels, and I do understand your point about the halftime show being inappropriate for children. I didn't watch the Super Bowl or see the halftime show, so I can't really comment on it, but you must admit that the controversy certainly wasn't over whatever sexually suggestive material came before the infamous wardrobe malfunction. (And yes, anyone who believes it was a malfunction is living in denial.) I didn't hear a peep about that.

Overall, I simply think that our country as a whole is too uptight about sexual material. It's the same way in the world of film, where anything suggesting heavy sexuality gets slapped with an NC-17, but movies with blood, gore and hundreds of gruesome deaths can squeak by with a PG-13 or R rating. It's a ridiculous double standard. I still don't think the halftime show deserved this much of an uproar -- if anything, I think the massive amount of controversy will simply pound it further into our children's heads that they should be ashamed of their bodies and their sexuality. Our entire culture seems to teach that, and it's getting a little old.

Anyway, back on topic, I also think it's sad that lesbians are more mainstream friendly for these types of shows than gay men. I think that Joss created one of the most realistic depictions of homosexuality on television with Willow and Tara, but I'm not sure I've ever seen a gay man on TV that I'd consider realistic. When will someone dare to blaze that trail?
Watch Six Feet Under.
I remember reading an interview with one of the producers of "Ellen," in which he refers to the older generations being intolerant of gays. He says something like (slightly paraphrasing), "There are a lot of empty graves out there and once they're filled the world will be a lot more tolerant place." I always thought that was so funny...and so true.
Ringworm's right, it's been done (a positive, realistic, interesting portrayal of a long-term relationship between two men) on Six Feet Under. Rent or buy the DVDs if you have the opportunity, the show's incredible on top of that, one of my favorite boxed sets.

Now on network television...yeah, you'll be waiting another ten to twenty years at least before you see a gay (or bisexual, for that matter) relationship treated well.
Yes, it's always puzzled me why violence is so acceptable on TV but sex gets treated with kid gloves. I don't mind my kids seeing sexual situations if it is done in a loving, realistic manner. Sex is normal between people (and it's a normal thing for gay people too) but seeing someone blow someone's brains out isn't as big deal on tv. I don't get it.

Tara and Willow's relationship was done so well that you didn't even notice they were gay. They just seemed like two normal people in love. Unfortunately, on network TV anyway, I don't think there has ever been a male couple portrayed that way. On network TV gay men are always shown in a very stereotypical way and always for laughs. I'll have to get a copy of Six Feet Under though because I've never seen it and everytime someone on this site posts about it, it intrigues me more and more.

My daughter is a huge "Sailor Moon" fan (Japanese anime) and as she got older she got more interested in the original series that was shown in Japan. She was stunned by the differences in what they showed here compared to there (same cartoon but dubbed into English and things were changed because us Americans are so delicate).

For instance one of the character's name is Uranus pronounced Yer-ay-nus. Well apparently because it sounds like anus (which it's supposed to) they decided delicate children couldn't hear it that way (I guess they didn't realize the character is named after the planet Uranus). So they pronounced it Yer-in-us. I guess it sounding like urine was better than an anus. Then there was a gay couple in the Japanese version where for the American version, because he did look somewhat feminine they presented the character as a female. And the lesbian couple in the Japanese version were referred to as very affectionate cousins in the American version. She started watching when she was younger and enjoyed it but after seeing how it was originally supposed to be portrayed she was just amazed at how "dumbed" down it was for American TV.
Mindpieces - I agree we only heard a lot about the "peep show" but that was the media focusing on that. Most people when in discussions on news shows did bring up the whole show. The media made the whole thing about the wardrobe malfunction by constantly showing it over and over again (so that way, if you didn't happen to catch it when it aired you'd have a chance to see it over and over again to have your chance to get offended!!!). I do think it was the media that went out of their way to keep it on the news as much as possible by only focusing on the breast incident. And I also did hear a lot of people being critical of Justin Timberlake too but unfortunately most of it was aimed at Janet Jackson and I didn't think that was fair. I don't think he was innocent and didn't know that was going to happen.
Interestingly enough, one of the big discussions in the new fan community for Showtime's L Word is that there isn't enough the lesbian sex shown, while we still get plenty of hetero sex from the show's one straight couple. And this is on a show about lesbians...on late night cable.
sorry double post

[ edited by jeebs on 2004-03-20 01:27 ]
Actually I have seen the entire run of Six Feet Under and consider it one of my favorite shows. It may be a realistic depiction of a gay male relationship, but in a lot of ways I think it portrays gay men in a slightly negative light. David is a doormat, Keith has endless anger issues, they've tried bringing other people into their bed, etc. Sure, this may be just like the lives of some people, but I'd rather see a more positive gay male relationship on TV at some point. I've always hoped that David would grow a backbone, dump Keith and move on, but that's yet to happen.

Or maybe instead of using the term realistic, I should have said romantic. I think that Willow and Tara had a beautiful, romantic relationship that many people cherished. So why does the one respectable gay male relationship on TV have to be so screwy and dysfunctional all the time?

[ edited by MindPieces on 2004-03-20 03:14 ]
I hope I wasn't misconstued as being supportive of the Super Bowl half-time show; when I said the moment didn't go 'unappreciated', I mean the instantaneous flash of Miss J's anatomy came across, to us, as the least plastic or unscripted-seeming instance (even if it was a calculated marketing maneuver) of the rote, patently unsexy and crude singing/dancing routine that had preceded it. Amazing as it may seem, this was actually the first Super Bowl I've ever watched completely from beginning to end (the Panthers are a home team, and it was their first time at the big dance) -- and yes, I do realize I differ from about 99.9% of the population in this admission :).

I didn't know what to expect as far as such shows were concerned, having nothing to compare it to from the past, but I personally found the choices of music completely unappealing, the dancing tasteless and the JJ/JT interaction verging on the level of fetish-fixated, soft-core porn. Had the context been different, the situation less volatile, the broadcast on paid channels rather than free, and people in the US, in general, less conditioned to accept tawdry, mechanical titillation in almost all forms of popular mass entertainment, this wouldn't be an issue. Yet those three seconds have been forged into a politicized tool and used to chisel away at our First Amendment freedoms. That, I find really scary. I don't have cable, or kids, so shielding young, impressionable minds from objectionable material isn't a consideration in my home. (Yet I do question why so many children would be included in watching a several-hours-long football game as part of a family ritual. I understand some families do do that; it's just outside my own personal experience growing up. My family was quite religious and pro football was regarded as especially violent and unsuitable for children's viewing. But I digress.)

My contention with the whole JJ thing was the way the man was somehow able to avoid being contaminated by the subsequent fallout. I'm not particularly a fan of JJ's work, but I can't help but notice how JT was allowed to present at the Grammies and perform, whereas JJ was made to feel, by all accounts I've seen, that her presence at those same awards wasn't welcome. Even though I fault both parties' judgment for participating in what amounted to a glitzed-up locker room debauch, It's just hard for me to believe, with the relative degree of women's advancement in American society, that the public at large wasn't more outraged by the disparity of censure generated by the media.

I don't expect homosexual men to get a fair shake on network TV any time soon; American social mores are still too rooted in a puritanical fear of emasculation, as evidenced by shows like the one Fox is currently running before 'Wonderfalls'. (I'm honestly confused by Fox's approach -- I can't figure out if the idea of a straight woman trying to pick out the straight men from the gay men trying to fool her into thinking they're straight is supposed to be progressive, exploitive, or both.) I wonder if the fact that Jaye's sister is a lesbian shaped the corporate decision behind WF's Friday night timeslot. (And is that a good thing?) It looks like Sharon's sexuality won't be constantly referenced, and maybe she can evolve into a fresh, more realistic voice for gay women who are so far pretty severely under-represented in all mediums except standup comedy, as far as I can tell. As a het female, I loved Willow and Tara; being moved by Tara's death was actually what prompted me to seek out other 'Buffy' fans on line. I'd really like to see that kind of deep, tender dynamic portrayed by guys as well, and not just played for laughs.
Wiseblood, thank you for clearing that up. I did misunderstand and I appreciate you going into more detail. I'm a New England Patriots fan and a huge football fan and I watch every super bowl and that one was just tasteless. I thought this was one of the best super bowl games ever with both teams playing excellent football right up until the last second and the next day everyone's talking about JJs boob. I think the reaction of the public was because they just went too far and that's why there was such a back lash. Yes, it's stupid that it's gone that far but JJ and JT and whoever hired MTV to run the Super Bowl show in the first place shouldn't have tried pushing what they could get away with past the limits of what the public would accept. It annoyed me that ER cut a scene where they showed an old woman's chest and her breast was exposed during a surgical scene because they were afraid of the back lash. I highly doubt teenage boys everywhere would've been tuning in to see that. As I said before, if it's done in an appropriate setting or on an appropriate show that people know what they are most likely going to see then let us, the people, choose what we want to watch.

And for Justin Timberlake, I think he's a cad. Janet Jackson took full responsibility and he goes on denying that he knew that was going to happen. He was on one of those entertainment shows grinning and laughing about it the next day (the full fury hadn't quite reached it's peak yet at that point) but after he (or his manager) realized the public didn't think it was as funny he started acting like it bothered him too. The people running the awards show were cowards as well. He was up for an award and was set to perform so they let him go. I don't agree with what Janet Jackson did but I think she did genuinely seem remourseful afterwards whereas he did not.

I think the Fox executives are the biggest hypocrites. They allowed Ally McBeal to lip lock many times with other females on that show but because none of them were lesbians it was okay, and lets use Gay men for ratings in a reality show (as long as they don't have to portray them in a realistic manner) but God forbid, don't ever allow two people being portrayed in a realistic gay relationship to have a kiss.

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