A New Filth
September 11th is a historical event for most Americans because it drastically reshaped civil society, domestic and foreign policy, and our cultural identities. Furthermore, the day triggers deep emotions through the loss that many Americans experienced through forces of terrorism both abroad and at home. Last week, I was surprised to see that NBC chose to release their new series “The New Normal” on such an auspicious day. Presumably the show could have been a nice way to release tension and provide comical catharsis for viewers. I was wrong.
The show follows the story of two white-urbanite-rich-monolingual-fashionable gays on their pursuit to reproduce. The cast is basically all white except for the assistant Rocky. She is a sassy black assistant that is reminiscent of stereotypical mammy characters. The story takes place under the framework that their lifestyles are ‘the new normal’ and, thus, a progressive milestone. These conclusions are pretty scary for any queer, person of color, working class, youth or minority individual. I am not sure how it is ground breaking to see rich white people who complain about their lives on television.
As a young rural queer, I cannot empathize with these characters or their stories. I’m unsure how they were able to land such successful jobs when 29 states still haven’t ended discrimination against queers in the workplace. I don’t want to leave my own hometown so that I can be prosperous.
Even more unsettling is that the couple exploits a poor rural woman so that they can achieve their heterosexual goal of reproduction. They enlist Goldie, a single mother who is presumable lower income, to be the vessel for their child in exchange for money: Women are (again) reduced to objects of reproduction. Interestingly, they chose a white woman even though one of their closest female ‘friends’ is Rocky. I guess they did not want to have any mixed children? The couple act as if the only source of happiness existences in reproducing.
Society’s supposedly new normal is therefore a lifestyle of richness, whiteness, reproduction, and sexism. I cannot imagine how this would be healthy for our queer youth. It just sells them a story of assimilation into heterosexual norms. There is nothing ‘new’ or groundbreaking about the show because the story plot is repeated in other shows like Leave it to Beaver, Sex and the City, or The Duggers. There is no exploration of queer sexuality, gender fluidity, or reorganized social systems. I doubt we will ever know how Bryan and David make love but I assume it is very vanilla-like missionary.
Showcasing this series on an emotional day like 9/11 seems more then insensitive. It appropriates an ongoing US narrative around the pursuit of equality, freedom, and liberation as cover for the same old American traditions of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and general social inequality.
Jon Henry comes from the small town of Washington, Virginia. Xe finished xes degree at the University of Richmond and was named GayRVA.com's Out.Spoken. Richmonder of the Year for 2011. When not in class, xe is either in the studio or rabble rousing with other queer activists. Follow xem on Twitter.
I for one won’t use it and believe the term plays directly into the hands of our Christofascist enemies.February 11, 2016
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