Nov 26, 2013

The Game: Nice Beefcake, Disgusting Homophobia

American sitcoms are segregated.  Some have exclusively white casts, and others, exclusively black.  Since writers believe that all gay people are upper-class white men, you rarely if ever see a gay character on a "black" sitcom.  In fact, you often see unremitting homophobia, as black men respond to institutional oppression by lashing out against anyone they perceive to be "unmanly."

The Game (2006-) is a long-running sitcom, originally about medical student Melanie Barnes, who moves with her boyfriend Derwin Davis to San Diego, where he will play football for the San Diego Sabers.

They are no longer in the cast, as it has expanded to include various teammates and their mothers, wives, and girlfriends: Hosea Chanchez, Jay Ellis, Bumper Robinson, Michael Beach, Michael Boatman, and many others, often appearing for only a season or two.

I had only seen one episode; there was lots of beefcake, but I hate football, and the heterosexist "who's in love with who?" in an utterly-gay free world bcame depressing after about five minutes.  

But I was curious about the "gay" storyline.  In "Stay Fierce, Malik," which aired on January 23, 2009, the womanizing player Malik is "accused" of being gay in a tv interview, and must suffer homophobic teasing from his teammates.  Then he discovers that Sabers player Clay actually is gay!  He calls him a "fag," and the other teammates are all horrified and disgusted, and leave him alone in the locker room.  These are the "positive" characters, by the way, the ones we're supposed to like and care about.

Mehcad Brooks (left), who played Jerome, resisted making his character so homophobic: "The writers and I had a lot of discussion about it..  I couldn't wrap my head around not supporting someone who is struggling with coming out on a national stage. I was sorta fighting what I had to do. [But] a job's a job."

In the next episode, "Do The Wright Thing" (January 30, 2009), the team manager forces them all to accept Clay -- not because it's the right thing to do, but because of the publicity.  Having an out player will pack the stadium -- fans who like fags will come out to cheer, and the 99.99% of the population who hate fags will come out to boo!  (He never considers that some football fans might be gay themselves).

The players resist, complaining bitterly about having to work with a fag -- these are the positive characters, remember. The wives just giggle and make homophobic jokes.  Malik resists the most bitterly until he has to do a guest bit on a children's tv show, which teaches him "tolerance."

Incredibly painful to watch, absolutely disgusting.  Remember, this was 2009, not 1969!

Having handled "the gay thing," the show returned to its endless heterosexual machinations, blissfully unaware that gay people exist.

I'd rather have them unaware.