Oct 28, 2014

The First Gay Kiss on Children's TV

The Cartoon Network's  Clarence (2014-) was on my list of potential gay-subtext programs to watch, but I wasn't hopeful.  The premise seemed sort of boring: boy with some friends.  Where were the fairy godparents, wizard academies, or superheroes?

Clarence is a chubby, optimistic kid with two friends, Jeff (his rule-spouting superego) and Sumo (his get-er-done id).  He lives with his single mom and her live-in boyfriend, and has the usual assortment of bullies, crushes, and martinet teachers.







I watched one episode, and turned it off: Clarence, about age 10, was going on a date with a girl!  Why does indoctrination into heteronormativity have to begin so darn early? At least my parents, teachers, and friends waited until I was in junior high to begin the "What girl do you like?" interrogation.

According to the Clarence wiki, several of Clarence's friends also date girls or have crushes on girls. Doesn't sound promising.





In July 2014, Skyler Page, who created the series and voiced Clarence, was fired after allegations of sexual assault by coworker Emily Partridge.  Other coworkers have since mentioned that Page often made sexist statements and behaved inappropriately.  Spencer Rothbell (left), one of the writers, became the new voice of Clarence.  

Maybe the second season will be a little more inclusive.

The gay characters:  Clarence's teacher is waiting for a blind date.  A cute guy shows up.  She thinks, "Great, this is the one!"  But the cute guy is actually meeting another guy.  They hug and kiss cheeks.  Her face falls as she sees that her real blind date is ugly.

Un-named walk-on characters, one second on screen, presented as a problem for a heterosexual character, in a situation where no child is present.

But in the boardrooms of the Cartoon Network, where "Children must never know that gay people exist!", it's a giant leap forward.

Of course, fans are bound to scream"They can't be gay!  Friends kiss each other on the cheek!  Or brothers!  They could be brothers!"

Anything they can think of to avoid acknowledging that there are gay people in the world.

See also: Cory Haim's Bubble Bath; and The First Gay Character on Children's TV