Friday, October 7, 2011

TV News? What the...... Oh, There is a Point to It....

The first casualty of the fall TV season is NBC's Playboy Club. As an anti-sexist with feminist theories swimming in my mind, I'm immediately tempted to cheer.

But of course, nothing is that simple.

From the Advocate...

The number of LGBT characters in primetime on broadcast channels is decreasing in the next season, according to a count by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

And of course, one of the shows that featured LGBT characters was, you guessed it, Playboy Club. And not as the stereotype you may expect. At least, according to Out Magazine.

Judging by the pilot, one of Playboy's focal points is the proliferating gay rights movement, told through the story of lesbian bunny Alice (Leah Renee) and her gay husband, Sean (Firefly's Sean Maher). The two have a marriage of convenience and host secret meetings of the Mattachine Society, one of the first real-life gay rights organizations, in their apartment. As domestic and political co-conspirators, Alice and Sean put a new spin on the stock gay TV character, often depicted in this era as tragic and isolated.

The atheist movement has found many parallels with the GLBT movement. Unlike racism and sexism, both atheists and GLBT people can chose to hide their true selves in an attempt to avoid persecution. GLBT's came out of that closet en masse and forced society to admit that they not only existed, but that they were their friends, family, co-workers, and teachers; that they were their peers and that they were not going anywhere, so people may as well get used to it.

And it worked. All statistics and graphs from P.a.p.-Blog/Human Rights

Is there still work to be done? Of course. I would never claim that LGBT's are now free of discrimination. Homophobia still runs rampant, and the conservative christian movement is not helping. But when you look at that graph, one point stands out. It's the "By Age Group" portion. 62% acceptance by those in the 18 to 29 category. This is a war that we are winning. The bigots can only win if we stop fighting, if we stop forcing people to admit that they know LGBT people, and that these people are not monsters.

And that is why, despite my immediate feminist preconceptions towards Playboy Club, I am saddened that it was cancelled. More exposure leads to more acceptance. More GLBT characters in prime time equals more exposure.

Here's hoping Bravo gives the show a new home.

Speaking of exposure, how many characters on TV are atheists? Quick, name three other than House.

Having problems?

The GLBT movement has given us a blueprint that works. They still face discrimination, but attitudes are shifting, and the youth has been won. I will continue to back them, to take homophobes to task, and strive to be as gay-positive as a straight man can be.

But this graph scares me.

53% would not vote for an atheist, in a nation with no religious test for office. Disgusting bigotry.

We aren't going away. The "New Atheist" bestsellers were a great start. The Out Campaign is a strong step in the right direction. But for every step forward made, we fragment over how to deal with the religious, over how outspoken to be, over the inherent problems of sexism in a movement that for far too long has been patriocentric, just to name a few stumbling blocks.

None of that matters if the simple fact of our atheism causes our opinions to be disregarded. We can fight each other until the theocracy, or we can come together and force society to acknowledge our existence. There are real world battles outside the movement that we must fight. Yes, we have serious inner issues as well. We need more women, and we need more men who don't treat the women as "geek whores." We need to decide how diplomatic to be to the religious when there is a common goal. We need to understand that atheists do not hold one political philosophy. I don't want all atheists to be liberals. I want a sane opposition party.

Believe me, I am not innocent here. It took until yesterday for me to come out as an Atheist under my real name, to my real friends and family. I've flamed Chris Mooney so many times I've lost count. I've refused to compromise when compromise was needed. Ideological purity is not a possibility. Would I love a world of rationality and logic, where people make decisions based on evidence, and no one follows outdated bronze age concepts of morality? You betcha. But I also live in reality.

Any change we can cause is limited as long as we are the hated "other."

I am an atheist. It is not because I am "mad at God," or any other rationalization you can come up with. It is because I followed the evidence.

I am not alone.

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