A few random thoughts that couldn't make it into Friday's TV column about Sacha Baron Cohen's outrageous "Bruno" and the end of mainstream homophobia it may well announce in Phil Donahue's America (which is what we're living in, in the 21st century.)
1. Think about America 10 years from now: after hilarious movies like "Bruno" and all those sitcoms and afternoon talkathons, how many states do you think, by then, will have ratified same sex marriage? My guess: at least half — unless, that is, there's a federal statute first.
2. The now-dead late-night radio talkmeister who made such a Gothic scare show out of my column about critic David Ehrenstein's 1996 examination of gay sitcom writers in Los Angeles Magazine was, it should be noted, somewhat different in life than he was on the air. In life he was, in fact, a rather sweet, sophisticated and courtly fellow a good deal less stricken with alarm than the one on the radio. I used to run into him occasionally at movies and enjoyed talking to him immensely.
3. While the ideological Draculas of midnight radio talk might try to scare audiences with visions of rampant American depravity, afternoon TV, post-Phil Donahue, would cheerfully undo every bit of it. And Donahue — who was the inspiration for Zeitgeist Queen Oprah Winfrey — not only got his TV start in Dayton, Ohio but is a proud product of conservative Catholic education: Cleveland parochial schools and then Notre Dame.
So what do you think? How funny IS homophobia anyway? Or, conversely, how scary (or unfunny) is "Bruno?" And how worried are you about what sitcoms and afternoon TV are bringing to America?
— Jeff Simon