The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has been busy handing out cheers and jeers to various pop culture movers and shakers this week. First, the good happy part: they are all about “Dancing With The Stars” casting Chaz Bono (who is transgender) and Carson Kressley (who is gay) on their upcoming 13th season.
With both gay and transgender contestants represented on this upcoming season, ABC will send viewers a strong message about the diversity within the LGBT community,” said Herndon Graddick, senior of director of programs for GLAAD, in a statement. “At a time when transgender representation in the media is sorely lacking, Chaz Bono joining the cast is a tremendous step forward for the public to recognize that transgender people are another wonderful part of the fabric of American culture. Appearing on such a high-profile show will allow millions of Americans to get to know him in a whole new light.
Can’t argue with that! Despite being Sonny and Cher’s offspring, Chaz is candid, down-to-Earth, and not a bad person for trans kids to look up to. Good luck, dude.
And now, for the fucked up part. As you probably know by now, MTV gave their “Best New Artist” award to Tyler the Creator of Odd Future, who uses the word “faggot” like most people use the word “like;” as a random interjection in whatever angry bullshit he happens to be spouting. GLAAD’s Matt Kane rightfully exposes Tyler’s “I don’t mean it like that” defense as the idiotic cop out it is, and then calls upon the cultural behemoth to stop legitimizing such tired, ugly attempts at being shocking:
“Rather than providing simply a larger platform, MTV and other networks should educate viewers about why anti-gay and misogynistic language has no place in the music industry today,” said Herndon Graddick, Senior Director of Programs at GLAAD. “Given Tyler’s history of such remarks, viewers and potential sponsors should refrain from honoring homophobia and in the future look to a more deserving artist.”
That said, I can see it from both sides. If there’s one thing I learned while working for MTV, it’s that they really do try to honor the tastes of today’s youth when making programming decisions. And if those tastes happen to be awful, well, who are they to judge? There was no way they weren’t going to give people the option to vote for Tyler the Creator for an award that people get to vote on, because he’s a hero of “I.D.G.A.F.” to angry, young, critical-thought-averse suburban dudes everywhere.
On the other hand, a lot of the shit he says is indefensible. Much like their continued tolerance of Chris Brown, I think you get into dicey moral territory when continuing to give someone like that the floor. This issue is way too complex to fully explore in one blog post, but I’m glad that more people are beginning to pay attention. And if you think spewing homophobic slurs in a society where LGBT people are still denied basic civil rights is “edgy,” you are laughably wrong.