Guilty Pleasures

What makes the gay marriage debate so interesting is that there is only one reasonable conclusion, yet everybody comes around to it in a different way (provided, of course, that they come around at all.) Perhaps that’s why some of the holdouts are so resistant. When everybody tells you that you absolutely must see the new Batman movie, don’t you almost want to see it just so you can tell everybody else how wrong they were? I went through that with The Dark Knight, enjoying it a great deal but finding myself distracted by its pacing issues and wondering why all of the praise for Heath Ledger’s performance had to eclipse Aaron Eckhart’s outstanding turn. No matter what perspective I take in examining it–legal, moral, spiritual, or otherwise–I cannot escape thinking that gay marriage is not just right, but necessary. Your reasoning can be purely selfish (“I’m gay, and I’d like to marry the man/woman I love”) or born out of sheer indifference (“I’m straight, but I don’t care what other people do with their own lives.”) Either position is acceptable (they’re opposite sides of the same coin, really), as is everything in between. But saying that you don’t agree with something and therefore have the right to make it illegal does not make sense, never has, and never will.

If you have the time, you should watch Mike Huckabee’s recent interview on The Daily Show. I’m trying to embed it, but can’t, as WordPress seems to have a hard time embedding anything that isn’t on YouTube. But here’s the link (parts one and two), in case anybody gives a damn. I was surprised at just how angry it made me. I’ve never liked Mike Huckabee, but to hear him tell Jon Stewart right to his face that the fiery imagery in a political ad he voiced had nothing to do with Hell made my blood boil. Fire isn’t just fire, you nitwit, just as a cross to bear can take many metaphorical forms. I especially love his dismissive answer to Stewart’s query about why he thinks gay marriage is a greater threat to Christian values than poverty–basically, that the ad was short, and that was all they had time for. Fuck you. I’ve given money to charity before, and not because it’s convenient. Huckabee tells Jon Stewart to read 1 Corinthians, as if the fact that he has read something that Jon hasn’t somehow proves his point. I’ve read 1 Corinthians, and I still think Mike Huckabee is full of shit. He is incapable of extrapolating on the literal meaning of anything. Opposing gay marriage is not like opposing interracial marriage because black people and gay people are not the same. Also, some people wear hats and some don’t, so we should treat the people who wear hats differently than those that don’t. Because that is totally fair and Christian.

On some level, Huckabee is correct that a person’s faith cannot be separated from their vote. It’s always dangerous to try to isolate one part of oneself. That, in a nutshell, is what makes internalized homophobia so dangerous. The harder you try to pretend something isn’t there, the the faster and fiercer it will eat you alive. I’m sick of people who try to control society, then wall themselves off from it when it doesn’t go their way. In way, the anti-gay marriage crowd is no better than the people who read gossip magazines and judge the stars who cheat on their spouses. In a lot of cases it amounts to nothing more than slut-shaming, as when Kristen Stewart slept with a married man. From the hate she got, you’d think she had raped a baby. The best recent example of this, of course, is the Dave Petraeus scandal, which I won’t spend too much time on since my prevailing response to the “scandal” is best expressed in this gif.

I will say, however, that in spite of all this nonsensical, blatantly misogynistic talk about how Paula Broadwell seduced a saintly man whose only flaw was in caring too deeply about others, I still got a kick out of this:

Not PhotoShopped, that’s the real title!

Why do we care about the private lives of celebrities? I guess it’s because we want to believe that they’re like the people they portray in their art. Usually, they aren’t, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still embody some of those qualities. I was heartbroken to read about Henry Fonda’s personal life and hear him described as temperamental, cold, and narcissistic. He not only starred in and produced 12 Angry Men, one of my favorite films of all time, but represented something fundamentally honest, altruistic, and noble in basically everything I’ve seen him in besides Once Upon a Time in the West. Maybe he wasn’t like that. Then again, maybe he was more like that than people give him credit for. His children both report that he was not a very good father. But plenty of good people have troubled relationships with their kids. I get along with my mother right now, but for much of my life, that was not the case, and the fact that virtually everyone who encountered her thought she was wonderful exacerbated rather than soothed my resentment. I kind of have to believe that in spite of his numerous flaws, Henry Fonda was somehow more than the sum of his parts, that it wasn’t an accident or some act of mass deception that turned him into the icon that he is. I have similar feelings about Christopher Eccleston, the 9th Doctor, who was described by at least one of his castmates on Doctor Who as cranky and, frankly, just not a fun person to be around. I can be like that, but I don’t think that tells you everything about a person.

Sometimes it is fair to ask questions about the private nature of somebody we admire, and sometimes, you have to just back the fuck off. It is possible to be a terrible human being and a great artist, but I think most, if not all of the artists, politicians, journalists, and other figures that inspire me do so because I try to look past whatever is superficial about a person and, if I can, glimpse their soul. Gandhi was a deeply flawed man in some ways, but he accomplished many great things. Let us try to see all of his sides rather than just the ones that make us feel comfortable.


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