Looking cancellation rant (Adam Baran)

looking logoLove this Facebook post by writer Adam Baran on the importance of Looking historically and what it means for potential future openly gay media projects. I felt exactly the same way yesterday – nauseous reading the hatred and dismissal of a fine piece of television. The pacing and the plots may not have spoken to everyone, but can anyone really deny the quality of Looking? The beauty? The honesty? Thanks Adam Baran for summing this up so perfectly. Must-read.  From Facebook,

Adam Baran
Rantin’ time: For years LGBT people did not see themselves on the screen in films. You had to look for side characters who may not have represented who you were, you put up with because that was all you got. The sissy. The villain. The butch gym teacher. The majority of gay people wouldn’t allow themselves to even enjoy or see those characters as positive steps, and so they turned to coded portrayals of straight relationships, and tried to read between the lines. Was Brief Encounter actually the story of a gay relationship? Nowadays, things are different. Sort of. We have gay movies, but since straight people won’t go to see them, they have to be made for far less money, and so they often have lower production values. Gay people don’t want to see movies that don’t look like big-budget Hollywood fare, or read subtitles, and so they don’t go see these movies either – the wonderful and the garbage alike. The Way He Looks. The Duke of Burgundy. Pride. 52 Tuesdays. Dallas Buyers Club. But everyone has TV and TV is our American birthright and so we think we get to decide what should and shouldn’t be on it. The decisions of filmmakers, writers, and other artists should be determined by a popular vote, by the audience. We’re the fans. We want to see the show done this way. You wanna make it some other way? Fuck you I wrote a blog post about why you suck! I’m not free from sin on this one either, as anyone who follows my Facebook knows. And calling out TV shows can be fun. But Looking was a peculiarly hot button show from minute one. The reaction was loud and vociferous – I don’t see myself in the show. Those guys don’t behave realistically. It’s boring. The lead character is sex negative. It’s not an accurate representation of San Francisco. It’s not diverse enough. It’s not an accurate representation of what I think gay people are or should be or how I want other people to see us. Maybe these concerns were legit. Maybe not. Maybe they were the result of people’s internalized homophobia, and the fear that straight people would look at us in a bad light if they saw how we behaved – which was my reaction to Queer As Folk when it aired. But guess what? There’s literally no pleasing all gay people as a monolithic bloc. Working at Outfest and NewFest for three years taught me that. Some people will look at a wonderful gay movie that has sex in it and hate that there’s sex. Some people will lament that there’s a sissy character. Some people will say there’s not enough sex. Some people will watch the worst piece of shit and say it’s wonderful because there are shirtless guys or topless gals in it. Most people don’t want to see anything that’s challenging. Some object to the casting. How dare Jill Solloway cast a brilliant cis male actor to play a character who’s beginning her transition! And so when Looking was cancelled today, and I started seeing reactions on my feed like, “Good!” “At last” I felt sick, and I felt like I finally understood what my subtly homophobic screenwriting teacher at NYU meant when she told me that if I wrote about gay people it would be “limiting” – a note I have spent years proudly ignoring. It’s not that I didn’t have my own feelings about Looking’s strengths and weaknesses. I would have loved to have written for it, but I wasn’t hired. Still, I watched. And I think it really is the ghost of the generations of homophobia that forced our own stories to be squashed, hidden, and coded or put unwholesome characters in our films that caused us to react the way we reacted to Looking. Better no representation than imperfect representation! Instead of protesting a blatantly homophobic film like GET HARD, we are cheering the demise of a piece of film by a great gay filmmaker which starred all openly gay actors giving moving and powerful performances. Nowadays we criticize every single bit of representation or lack thereof and shun the films and media by not watching. I’m not saying those conversations were wrong, and shouldn’t have happened, but the failure of Looking to make it past two seasons is a bad thing for gay filmmakers, and a bad thing for people trying to put gay characters on the small screen. Doubtful HBO or any other network will put time or effort into making another show about predominantly gay characters – starring REAL gay actors for ten or twenty years. Producers will think twice about funding gay TV, and even film. And so we have one less explicitly, openly gay show on TV today, and it makes me feel like the future is bleak for gay filmmakers in general, and I wish we could all just take a breath next time, consider the context for the work being made, and cut each other some motherf@cking slack. Every film’s not gonna be perfect. LGBT filmmakers have it rough. It’s hard to get money, and it’s hard to get good actors willing to play gay, and then you can’t find anyone to watch it if and when you finish it. So lets just cut each other some slack. Even if you didn’t like Looking, don’t cheer it’s demise, please.

Thank you Adam for your eloquence and detail. I find people who cheer the demise of Looking to be the flip side of One Million Moms. I say the same thing to both groups: if you don’t like something, there’s no need to censor it. It’s very simple. Change the channel. Perhaps the quality of Looking will allow us to dig deeper and begin a conversation on why the mob mentality is so prevalent on the Internet and what we can do about making people relax more. I never liked Sons of Anarchy or Game of Thrones but I never wanted either of them cancelled. I don’t watch sports but I am happy to share 400 channels with sports fans. Adam Baran fucking rocks.

Hat tip to Urban Food Guy.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: