Have we all lost our sense of humor?

Posted on 08 Oct 2007 at 7:37pm
By David Webb – The Rare Reporter

Gay stereotypes in mainstream media often viewed as offensive



David Webb – The Rare Reporter

Everybody wants to let it all hang out on Halloween.

Everybody wants to let it all hang out on Halloween.
It’s the one day of the year that it seems truly safe for gay and straight people alike to act out their fantasies.

But it may also provide an opportunity for the exploitation of gay stereotypes under the guise of humor something that would never be condoned with racial and other minority stereotypes.

That’s what gay Addison resident Doug Weber contends happened last week on Halloween when The Morning Mix 102.9, hosted by Tony Zazza and Victoria Snee, sent radio personality B.J. out on the town dressed as a “gay fairy.”

The character, who wore a dress and a boa, reportedly made several stops around town, including a visit to Oak Lawn.

Weber was outraged by the show’s content that day and complained in an e-mail and a telephone call to the “Tell it to Tony” hotline. He claimed B.J.’s appearances served to perpetuate a derogatory stereotype of gay men.

“That’s feeding on to a really stupid stereotype ,” Weber said in a message recorded on the hotline and broadcast by the show. “In this day and age of political correctness, it’s just not cool.”

On his show in response, Zazza denied that there had been any attempt to ridicule or denigrate LGBT people, and he apologized to anyone who had been offended by it. In an e-mail Zazza told Weber gay people in Oak Lawn had asked for B.J. to make an appearance and gay employees of the radio station assured him they were not offended by the show’s content. The listeners decided how B.J. would dress to go trick-or-treating, and where he would go, he said.

“This was not a stereotypical move,” Zazza said on his show in response to Weber’s complaint. “It was not meant to be harmful or funny. It was not to make fun of anyone.”

Weber said he was not satisfied by Zazza’s responses to him by e-mail and he has since quit listening to the radio show.

He noted that it was the first time he had been offended by the show, and that other gay people he asked about it also were offended.

Weber said he asked in his e-mails more than once if Zazza thought it would be OK to send B.J. to Oak Cliff dressed as “Buckwheat,” the character made famous in the old “Little Rascals” short films and later spoofed on Saturday Night Live by African-American comedian Eddie Murphy.

Weber said he never received an answer to the question.


Tony Zazza

Zazza did not respond to a voice mail message left by Dallas Voice.

As radio show content goes, the incident is one of the milder examples of rhetoric on the airwaves today that might be found offensive by LGBT listeners. Zazza said the character was based on the “gay fairy brother” from the movie “Larry and Chuck,” which was a tale about two straight men who pretend to be gay to get domestic partner benefits.

Consider a radio ad that recently ran in Round Rock for a men’s barbershop called Roosters Men’s Grooming Center, which is part of a national chain. The ad featured an effeminate-sounding, lisping man who was being ridiculed by macho-sounding types. He was referred to as a “pansy,” and the ad ended by noting, “Roosters Men’s Grooming Center is not for pansies.” It assured listeners there would be no effeminate stylists named “Alfonso” working there.

In a press release, a spokesman for Roosters responded to complaints from GLAAD that, “our radio advertisements are all in good humor and fun.”

When you compare the Roosters ad and some of the other rhetoric I have heard on local radio stations denigrating LGBT people, it is easy to understand why Zazza could be a little puzzled by Weber’s outrage over his show.

In all honesty, I think Zazza was at worst a little insensitive and possibly guilty of using bad judgment in connection with the depiction of the gay fairy character on his show. I don’t think he meant to exploit or denigrate gay people. He even told Weber that he considered his radio show to be the most gay-friendly one in the Dallas market.

But even so, it illustrates just how far the LGBT community still has to go in terms of receiving equal consideration by the media when it comes to sensitivity about stereotypes
particularly on radio shows where some of the hosts appear to know no limits when it comes to issues of sexual orientation.

Everyone already knows that if it involves racial or other minority stereotypes that you just don’t go there. But for the LGBT community, there obviously is a different standard.

It raises the question: Have we become obsessive about political correctness and lost our sense of humor, or is the mainstream media crossing the line any time it makes use of gay stereotypes?

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 9, 2007

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