May 31, 2013

Homophobia and Trapper John

January 11, 1981: a Sunday night, my junior year at Augustana.  So far it's been rather heterosexist.  Last quarter I had a gay-free class in Modern American Literature; this quarter I will read Death in Venice but not yet. I saw Times Square (1980), starring Tim Curry of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but there was no gay content.  The radio has been incessantly playing "Every Woman in the World," by Air Supply.

I am studying German while watching lackluster episodes of One Day at a Time, Alice (no Tommy), and The Boomerersons (the second, un-cute Lionel).  Then comes Trapper John, MD (1979-86), about the wisecracking medic of MASH, now a modern-day hospital administrator with a free-spirited assistant named Gonzo (Gregory Harrison, left): A swishy gay guy named Judy (Craig Russell) is hospitalized after becoming the victim of a hate crime (in those days they called it gay bashing).  Her initial roommate is bigoted, so she is moved into a room with an elderly woman suffering from Alzheimer's disease.  The woman's son objects, but changes his mind when he sees that Judy's magical gay powers have cured her.

I have never heard the myth that all gay men are into Judy Garland, but fortunately Judy explains about The Wizard of Oz, a place where "there isn't any trouble."  Did she even see the movie?  The Wicked Witch of the West keeps trying to kill her!

All gay men are really girls.  Got it.   And that's not even the primary plot:

A cop named Joey Santori (Joseph Cali) is shot at a gay rights rally.  His partner, Sam (Charles Hallahan), is livid with rage: "Some fag shot my partner!  They want power -- well, there's already too much fag power in San Francisco!"

Gonzo investigates, and discovers that Joey is gay!  And the shooter was a fellow cop upset over "fag power" in San Francisco!  How's that for a plot twist?

At least Gonzo is not homophobic.  Gregory Harrison is actually a gay ally, and has played gay characters several times.  Joseph Cali is a veteran of Saturday Night Live (1977), apparently, hardcore porn; there are several fully nude pictures available on the internet.