The rantings of your local right-wing troglodyte to the contrary notwithstanding, Hollywood has always been horribly homophobic; it has been axiomatic in Tinseltown that whenever a closet opens, a door closes. For this reason, the April 30th episode of ABC's Ellen was supposed to be controversial, and a TV-14 rating was affixed by the network in an effort to feign social responsibility by, er, protecting impressionable children.

Now, if ABC had really wanted to do some good, they would have run it as an Afterschool Special, and aimed it right at the youngsters. This is, regrettably, a time when deluded religionists have turned their share of the cultural dialogue into a perverse effort to demonize gay men and women, and to pass their pathological fears down to your children and mine. The official Coming Out of Ellen Morgan, or for that matter of Ellen DeGeneres herself, could have served as an invaluable lesson, a blow against the forces of hatred masquerading as morality. What we got, instead, was simply an above-average sitcom episode — not an unworthy goal, but not a particularly inspiring one, either — with a fairly high Laughs Per Minute ratio, and if there's one thing that Ellen, the series, is conspiciously not known for, it's high LPM.

Still, at least everything is out in the open now, and the hype can die a natural death. Of course, Donald Wildmon and company will do their best to keep the hysteria on a respirator; it brings in the bucks from the Defenders of the Dark Ages. But they are of no consequence in the grand scheme of things. For that matter, in the long run, what happens to Ellen, or what happens to Ellen, isn't all that important; what matters is whether people, whether or not they're following Ellen's example, find the courage to open some doors of their own. It couldn't come a moment too soon.

The Vent

1 May 1997

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 Copyright © 1997 by Charles G. Hill