Billy Crystal concerned gay TV characters will become “everyday thing”

In an oddly supportive, yet not really supportive, talk about his new TV show “The Comedians,” actor Billy Crystal had some odd things to say about the proliferation of gay characters on television.

The discussion stated off well enough, with Crystal talking about his portrayal of the first recurring gay character on network television on the show “Soap.”

“I did it in front of a live audience and there were times when I would say to Bob [Seagren], ‘I love you,’ and the audience would laugh nervously. I wanted to stop the taping and go, ‘What is your problem?'”

Then things got a bit odd.

Crystal added:

“I hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face… to the point where it feels like an every day kind of thing.”

Here’s the thing. Not having seen the video, it’s difficult to know if this is as bad as it sounds — particularly in light of the fact that Crystal is obviously pro-gay, and had earlier made some great comments about gay characters on TV. It’s possible that Crystal simply meant that he hopes shows don’t use gay characters and storylines as some kind of “oh my god!” cliché where, eventually, viewers will get sick of it. But the phrasing is still a bit odd.

Gay characters and relationships are “an every day kind of thing,” so gay storylines should be regularly appearing on TV. Crystal’s comment sounds like he’s saying that if gay characters pop up as often as straight characters, then this would somehow be shoving it in the viewer’s face. But considering his pro-gay history, I’m having a hard time believing that’s what he meant.

I do think Crystal should clarify his comments. But I also think we ought to give people who already have a great pro-gay track record a chance to explain themselves before we simply assume that they’ve gone bad. On this one, time will tell.

UPDATE: And in fact, Crystal has clarified his remarks. Via JoeMyGod.

“What I meant was that whenever sex or graphic nudity of any kind (gay or straight) is gratuitous to the plot or story it becomes a little too much for my taste.”

I’m not sure that clarification clarifies what Crystal actually said. I wonder if Crystal wasn’t actually trying to be very pro-gay, and trying to say “don’t go and do with gay relationships what they did with straight relationships, and shove the sex down our throats.”

Of course, if the networks do it with straight couples, they really should treat gay couples the same way, otherwise it sends a bad message. Though I hate to suggest that true equality means being as garish with gay sex on TV as the networks are about straight sex (did I really need to see Olivia Pope having oral sex?), when you start to treat it differently, it means you consider it different. And that’s never a good thing.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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92 Responses to “Billy Crystal concerned gay TV characters will become “everyday thing””

  1. rmthunter says:

    Frankly, I’m all in favor of gay characters becoming an everyday thing.

  2. feminismis2 says:

    Black on black crime is also an ‘everyday kind of thing.’ Should it be constantly on tv?

  3. barada says:

    Surprised he would have any misgivings, or trepidations, about the issue at all.
    A bit mystifying.

  4. slappymagoo says:

    I don’t offend easily. And the point *I* was trying to make, but apparently your head is so far up your own keister you didn’t notice it, is that Crystal never said “gay,” not in response to the original question, so your challenge is moot.

  5. MyrddinWilt says:

    I don’t know how many folk wading in here have ever given a press interview like this but it is incredibly hard not to say something stupid or ambiguously stupid.

    Sometimes a politician says something that is an unintended tell that shows their real self and its not pretty. Like when McCain made a joke about ‘bomb bomb Iran’. And other times there are folk who are trying to give a coded message to their supporters. Like when pretty much any Republican refers to ‘illegal immigrants’ and you know what they really mean is ‘any Latino’. So sometimes a verbal gaffe is a big deal. But I don’t think it is in this case.

    Characters in TV sitcoms are not normal people. Normal people are kind of boring. One of the main themes in Soap is unrequited/impossible love so the women fall for a gay man and a Catholic priest.

    What still stands out in Soap is that Jodie Dallas is just a normal character that happens to be gay. In fact he Jodie is pretty much the most normal person in the series. The plots revolve around relationships, today they usually revolve around sex.

  6. nicho says:

    The answer to that is, “That’s an offensive question and I won’t answer it.”

  7. slappymagoo says:

    Probably one of the reasons why so many people are up in arms. But the transcript of the original question and original answer tell a much different story.

  8. slappymagoo says:

    Spoken like someone who didn’t read the transcript and has no idea what he’s talking about.

  9. FLL says:

    That’s the spirit of the 21st century!
    Movies/TV: “Don’t like it? Don’t watch it.”
    Books: “Don’t like it? Don’t read it.”

  10. FLL says:

    Your examples of lame straight TV are on target… um… except for “Married With Children.” I don’t like most TV fare, but I’ll have to agree with Don Chandler. I always thought “Married With Children” was very funny:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D25kiWMDv0w

  11. heimaey says:

    People in their 20s say this stuff too – less than they used to, but I know plenty of guys who are young and get skeeved out if I mention in passing that my bf and I did something physical the same way they would to their girlfriends (i.e. he gave me a kiss goodbye).

    Also Billy Crystal sounds like a drag name. So THERE!

  12. slappymagoo says:

    No, he later clarified that explicit sex in any form tends to be too much for him. Gay or straight. The transcript of the question is available at The Hollywood Reporter. In context, it’s nothing like you’re being told it is, and this is coming from someone who isn’t that big a fan of Crystal but just thinks the uproar over his comment is way out of proportion to anyone who sees the context in which it’s asked and answered.

  13. slappymagoo says:

    OK, but to be fair, I’m also replacing it in the question he was asked. So whenever the word “gay” is used, it will be replaced with “Jew.”
    *******
    QUESTION: Mr. Crystal, “Soap” came up earlier. A few days ago, we
    had a sitcom here that has a “JEW” character in it and the word
    “groundbreaking” kept getting tossed around. I mean, it’s been 38 years
    since “Soap” premiered. When you look back on that, was that difficult
    for you at the time, and do you have any thoughts on what’s happened to
    television since then?

    BILLY CRYSTAL: Well, it was very difficult at the time, because
    basically I had the shovel. Jodie was really the first recurring
    character, starring character, whatever you want to call it, on network
    television. It was a different time. It was 1977. So, yeah, it was
    awkward and it was tough. I remember playing scenes with my boyfriend, Bob Seagren, who, in real life, was an Olympic gold medalist. He was a pole vaulter.

    LARRY CHARLES: He was the Bruce Jenner of his time.

    BILLY CRYSTAL: Yeah.

    (Laughter.)

    I’m not going to say anything.

    (Laughter.)

    BEN WEXLER: Bruce Jenner was competing at that time.

    BILLY CRYSTAL: So, yeah, it was awkward, and then over the years,
    you’d see other different characters and so on and so forth. And I’ve
    seen some stuff recently on TV in different kinds of shows where the
    language or the explicit sex is really you know, sometimes I get it, and
    sometimes I just feel like, “Ah, that’s too much for me.”

    You know, these kinds of questions lead me into sounding like
    some former baseball player bemoaning the fact of “I only get paid
    $25,000 my entire career.” But sometimes it’s just pushed a little too
    far for my tastes, and I’m not going to get into which ones they are. I
    love that if we were, it was I have to say we, because Susan Harris wrote him, and Paul Witt and Tony Thomas and Jay Sandrich
    and an amazing cast of that show supported me and let me play those
    scenes, helped me play those scenes with some sort of courage, in front
    of a live audience.

    See, I did it in front of a live audience, and there were times
    where I would say to Bob, “I love you,” and the audience would laugh
    nervously, because, you know, it’s a long time ago, that I’d feel this
    anger. I wanted to stop the tape and go, “What is your problem?” Because
    it made you sort of very self-conscious about what we were trying to do
    then. And now it’s just I see it and I just hope people don’t abuse it
    and shove it in our face, well, that sounds terrible to the point of it just feels like an everyday kind of thing.

    (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: And for Josh and any of the other castmembers, clearly
    you’re not as old as I am, because I remember watching the show. But did
    you see any of this in reruns? Do you have any thoughts on “Soap” way
    back when?

    JOSH GAD: No. I wasn’t born until about 20 years later.

    *************

    I’m not sure what that proves, but if it makes you happy…

  14. nicho says:

    Well, take what he said, replace “gays” with “Jews” or “blacks,” and see how it reads.

  15. Don Chandler says:

    Married With Children was hilarious.

  16. dcinsider says:

    Well that’s another option I suppose. :)

  17. slappymagoo says:

    OK, I’ve now mentioned this in quite a few replies, but have any of you taken the time to read the question in the transcript. He was asked about playing a gay character, if that had been difficult, and “do you have any thoughts on what’s happened to television since then?” Not any thoughts on what’s happened to gay characters on television since then, but what’s happened…TO TELEVISION.

    Now, it’s completely reasonable to assume the question pertained to gay characters on television since the 1970s; I say it’s completely reasonable because like all of you *I* assumed that’s what the interviewer meant as well. BUT IT’S NOT WHAT WAS ASKED. So Crystal talked about what he thinks has happened TO TELEVISION since his time on television playing a gay man in the 1970s.

  18. slappymagoo says:

    Well to be fair, I’m not getting paid for PR. Also, you’re amongst the people who seem to be sizing him up for a noose because you can’t read, so don’t blame that on me.

  19. slappymagoo says:

    A: Read the transcript, especially the question, then get back to me. Spoiler, the question was set up with a mention of him playing a gay character, but the question wasn’t about gay characters, but whether it was difficult for Crystal to play a gay man “…and do you have any thoughts on what’s happened to television since then?”

    B: When people who normally agree you with on many issues disagrees with you on one specific issue, that’s not “concern trolling.” That’s being a human being with free will and an open mind. If you can’t tell the difference, that’s your problem.

  20. slappymagoo says:

    No. He was asked what he thinks about what’s happened TO TELEVISION since he played a gay character in the 1970s. The implication is that they were talking about the evolution of gay characters on TV, but it wasn’t explicitly asked. Red the transcript again: Mr. Crystal, “Soap” came up earlier. A few days ago, we had a sitcom
    here that has a gay character in it and the word “groundbreaking” kept
    getting tossed around. I mean, it’s been 38 years since “Soap”
    premiered. When you look back on that, was that difficult for you at the
    time, —> and do you have any thoughts on what’s happened to television
    since then?” <—

  21. slappymagoo says:

    Actually the question was “…When you look back on that (meaning “Your time playing Jody Dallas on Soap), was that difficult for you at the time,
    and do you have any thoughts on what’s happened to television since
    then?”

    Which to me is a pretty vague question open to interpretation. He wasn’t even asked about gay characters, he was asked about “what’s happened TO TELEVISION since then.”

  22. Duke Woolworth says:

    Jews such as Crystal should think twice about being bigots, considering their history of being victims of it to the extreme.

  23. Indigo says:

    A passing thought: I had forgotten about Billy Crystal entirely until this bubble of nonsense surfaced. Maybe it’s nothing more than a needy grab for attention from a long forgotten has-been. Just saying . . .

  24. Indigo says:

    Do you have a grant from a right wing Spin Tank to write that nonsense? How much do they pay?

  25. Damien LeGallienne says:

    Can you read AVERY? I’m happy that you’re happy to be a bitch about it because imagine how stupid you’d be if you could actually read?

  26. Avery Alvarez says:

    Friend, you don’t need to write a monologue just to say that you have internal homophobia.
    Seeing gay people be intimiate on tv bothers you. The cure to that is to see more gay people on tv.
    But this “Oh us gays are better than this” comes off to me as concern trolling and sex shaming.

  27. Avery Alvarez says:

    You’re not cutting him slack.
    You’re doing reaaaaallllyy bad PR for him.

  28. Avery Alvarez says:

    You don’t speak homophobe too well.
    He explicitly stated it’s okay for hetersexuals, but not for homosexuals.
    When he got in hot water for it, he backtracked and said “oh i meant all sex scenes.”
    He may not be a hateful homophobe but is an ignorant one. As are you, i suspect, with this cheap concern trolling you’re pulling.

  29. Damien LeGallienne says:

    Let me rephrase what I wrote — I did a bad job of expressing myself and I apologize. For centuries, gay men and women have been trailblazers in the worlds of art and fashion and literature and entertainment — far out of proportion to their numbers. Still, most lived in the shadow of their sexuality because they were forced to do so by societal constrictions and bigotry Today, for the most part, gay is almost okay but still gay people allow themselves to be outwardly stereotyped whereas in years past, the stereotype of the homosexual was hinted and snickered at as a crude and cruel joke. The days of the fruity gay decorator or bitchy sales clerk in the vain of Paul Lynde, has now been simply replaced with the openly fruity and bitchy gay guy. Nothing has really changed other than the level of acceptance by the mainstream. Homosexual men especially are depicted by writers and producers the same way as they’ve always been — except now it’s okay and cute and almost family oriented. Nothing has improved. That’s horrible. It shows that the LGBT community is still too content to be depicted the way Italian-Americans are content to be depicted by The Sopranos etc. Just because homosexuality is becoming more and more mainstream and accepted, there is no reason to copy the tawdry and crude manners that have invaded the world of heterosexual entertainment over the past 40 years. It’s all about putting forth some good taste and great art for young gay people to enjoy and share. Gay writers have done great things with straight themes. Now it’s time to do it for themselves. It doesn’t have to be about AIDS or rape or gay bashing to be serious and thoughtful or introspective. The Lesbian community, however, is far ahead of the gay men’s community in that area with several plays and motion pictures with great scripts that are pertinent to lesbian issues. You watch TV today and shows depict the entire gay experience to be about 2 things. AIDS and sex or victimization, Where is the old-fashioned love story? Where is the romantic comedy or heavy drama that doesn’t poke fun or animosity towards religion or politicians? Hey — even Gidget and Marsha Brady had to have morals too you know. Gay youth need to see wholesome stories about what might lie ahead for them in life and love. They do not need to have the anger of their predecessors thrust into their faces. It doesn’t always have to be about social ills and injustice. That stuff has to stop. I alluded to the Gay Pride parade because big city renderings of this parade often do exactly what they should not do –especially for the youth of the Western World. There is nothing Pride-ful about muscular guys in sequined jockstraps rding on a float while grinding against each other’s rear ends. I know this sounds prudish, but it’s not meant to be. I’m being honest and many of you know exactly what I am talking about. Some gay kids are not muscular and hunky and beautiful and sculpted and hot. It’s an unkindness that has existed in the homosexual (and heterosexual) world for far too long. Now that you have the open attention of the world, do something that shows your brilliance and with and talent and humanity. I always say that there is often something very angelic about gay people – I don’t know why I say that but I have always felt that way. It annoys me when all this goodness truth and beauty is wasted.

  30. Houndentenor says:

    That generation has come a long way and perhaps they’ve come as far as they are going to go. I’d be more concerned if I heard this attitude from guys in their 20s. But mostly I don’t so since Crystal isn’t deciding which programs are produced and shown, I’m not sure it matters what he thinks at this point.

  31. Butch1 says:

    Darn! I must have missed paying my subscription or something. . . sigh . . .

  32. Houndentenor says:

    Actually the show was controversial before the pilot even aired. I suspect the network leaked info to create the controversy. The big hoopla was over the scene with married Jessica (Katherine Hellman) in bed with her tennis instructor (Bob Urich). The gay character was well down the list of objections from moralist groups.

  33. Houndentenor says:

    The first lesbian kiss on tv was in 1994 (on Roseanne). The first time two men kissed on network tv wasn’t until 2000 (Dawson’s Creek). They still don’t show much although they’ve been getting pretty steamy on How to Get Away with Murder this season. They still don’t show gay couples doing nearly as much as they do straight couples. Perhaps he’s been watching cable?

    Soap was indeed groundbreaking. The audience reactions also showed how uncomfortable people were with gays in the 70s. I give Susan Harris credit for trying to help but I’m not sure that overall the effect was all that positive, especially when they kept in the audience reaction (booing and hissing) whenever Jody’s boyfriend was on screen and cheering for the woman who was after him. It was rather disturbing for a young pre-gay tween at the time (me).

  34. Houndentenor says:

    I was a tween when Soap was first on. I never missed it. Jody Dallas was everything I didn’t want to be when I grew up but had a feeling I would be. Yikes. Or a couple of years later Stephen on Dynasty. They said they were gay but had no relationships and kept trying to be straight. Ugh. Yes, Modern Family and the like are a huge improvement. I think some gay people want…well I don’t know what they want from gay portrayals in the media. And there is the problem. Nothing seems to be good enough for those of the impossibly high standards. I actually enjoyed season 1 of Looking (which I just binge watched this month now that it’s out on DVD…thank you Netflix!). Oh look, gays are as fucked up as everybody else. Welcome to the 21st century. Some of us kind of like it here. I certainly can’t think of any point in the past where gays had it better or even half as good as we have it now.

  35. slappymagoo says:

    Because I believe there are truly stupid mean cruel people out there who will use power they receive or power they take to keep other people down if they don’t like the way they look or the god they worship or the gender of the other person they choose to love.

    So when well-meaning lefties take a barely-funny old codger like Billy Crystal to the woodshed as if he has the blood of innocents on his hands because he doesn’t want to see butt stuff even be implied when he’s watching a TV show or movie, and then refuse to believe his attempts to clarify his comments as if he’s a sick evil f*ckwad who wants to keep gay people down when the dude used to get threats to his health or life for playing a gay character, I just feel like the sword of Idiocracy is swinging both ways. I’d rather “my side,” the group to which I tend to align politically and socially, stop acting stupid, so we can, as a group point and laugh at the schmucks on the right, the ones trying to prevent same-sex marriage or same sex couples from adopting children or who truly won’t be happy until all gay people are back in the closet or pray the gay away.

    So sue me.

  36. FriendofPoopyhead says:

    Oh okay. So he has no problem with all the disgusting, weird, disturbing, rape-simulating, violent, extremely misogynist, straight sex scenes on HBO’s most famous shows. But two gay guys having a nice, warm, affectionate time together are really ruffling his feathers. So women getting roughed up by men on HBO’s extremely popular TV shows is perfectly acceptable. But gay men having mutual agency is bad.

  37. slappymagoo says:

    QUESTION: Mr. Crystal, “Soap” came up earlier. A few days ago, we
    had a sitcom here that has a gay character in it and the word
    “groundbreaking” kept getting tossed around. I mean, it’s been 38 years
    since “Soap” premiered. When you look back on that, was that difficult
    for you at the time, and do you have any thoughts on what’s happened to
    television since then?

    BILLY CRYSTAL: Well, it was very difficult at the time, because
    basically I had the shovel. Jodie was really the first recurring
    character, starring character, whatever you want to call it, on network
    television. It was a different time. It was 1977. So, yeah, it was
    awkward and it was tough. I remember playing scenes with my boyfriend, Bob Seagren, who, in real life, was an Olympic gold medalist. He was a pole vaulter.

    LARRY CHARLES: He was the Bruce Jenner of his time.

    BILLY CRYSTAL: Yeah.

    (Laughter.)

    I’m not going to say anything.

    (Laughter.)

    BEN WEXLER: Bruce Jenner was competing at that time.

    BILLY CRYSTAL: So, yeah, it was awkward, and then over the years,
    you’d see other different characters and so on and so forth. And I’ve
    seen some stuff recently on TV in different kinds of shows where the
    language or the explicit sex is really you know, sometimes I get it, and
    sometimes I just feel like, “Ah, that’s too much for me.”

    You know, these kinds of questions lead me into sounding like
    some former baseball player bemoaning the fact of “I only get paid
    $25,000 my entire career.” But sometimes it’s just pushed a little too
    far for my tastes, and I’m not going to get into which ones they are. I
    love that if we were, it was I have to say we, because Susan Harris wrote him, and Paul Witt and Tony Thomas and Jay Sandrich
    and an amazing cast of that show supported me and let me play those
    scenes, helped me play those scenes with some sort of courage, in front
    of a live audience.

    See, I did it in front of a live audience, and there were times
    where I would say to Bob, “I love you,” and the audience would laugh
    nervously, because, you know, it’s a long time ago, that I’d feel this
    anger. I wanted to stop the tape and go, “What is your problem?” Because
    it made you sort of very self-conscious about what we were trying to do
    then. And now it’s just I see it and I just hope people don’t abuse it
    and shove it in our face, well, that sounds terrible to the point of it just feels like an everyday kind of thing.

    (Laughter.)

    https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/billy-crystal-clarifies-sex-tv-764719

    HANG THE HOMOPHOBE!!!

    He rambled, a lot, but he started talking about the time in which he played a gay character, then talked about shows with gay characters that are too explicit for his taste…then he went back and talked about trying to play his character with some tact and humanity, so Jodie wouldn’t come off like a non-stop ass-play machine, which is how most people thought of gay men back in the day. And when he gets to “…And now it’s just I see it and I just hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face, well, that sounds terrible to the point of it just feels like an everyday kind of thing,” to me anyway, it’s clear that he’s talking about how the explicitness of the sex scenes makes THOSE characters seem like non-stop ass-play machines. And then he clarified that he feels the same way seeing explicit straight sex scene.

    So yeah, he sounds like an old man who comes from the “it’s sexier when you had to use the imagination, you don’t have to show everything” school of portraying sex in media. But I certainly don’t think he sounds like a rampant intolerant homophobe either.

  38. FriendofPoopyhead says:

    ^^ What this guy said.

  39. FriendofPoopyhead says:

    What show is this? Do you have links? Do they have video for download? Pls reply asap. Thx.

  40. BeccaM says:

    That’s why I said “too”, Slappy. We’re both doing it, making assumptions and presumptions as to his intent.

  41. timncguy says:

    and, his response was i hope they (gay characters) don’t become an everyday occurrence. still no mention of sex scenes

  42. slappymagoo says:

    Oh my God, someone being interviewed lost the focus of the original question! THAT NEVER HAPPENS!

  43. slappymagoo says:

    OK. He said something that, in retrospect, doesn’t reflect exactly how he feels. He tried to explain himself better. You decided it’s either insufficient an apology or an outright lie, that he really feels differently than how he claims he feels. But *I’M* the one being presumptuous.

  44. timncguy says:

    he was not asked about gay sex scenes. he was asked about gay characters on TV.

  45. slappymagoo says:

    “It was the producers who tried to claim that Soap was oh-so fantastic in
    its sympathetic portrayal of a gay character — when in fact all they
    kept doing was making him be Not Actually Gay.”

    Right, because they were trying to keep the show on the air. ABC affiliates were constantly threatening to pull the show for the sin of actually having a gay character. As may have been said once or thrice, there weren’t a lot of shows with gay characters before Soap and many parts of the country wanted to keep it that way. So the producers and writers of the show made some hard and eventually awkward choices to keep the show on the air, keep a gay character (at least in theory) on the show, keep him from becoming a “fairy boy” cliche, and keep his story arcs as outrageously funny as possible, even when dealing with more serious subject matter like suicide and custody battles. You can choose to believe they failed; I disagree.

  46. slappymagoo says:

    “Too bad, based on your interpretation, that he said NOTHING about hetero sex scenes in his original statement.”

    Right. He was asked about gay sex scenes, he transitioned into talking about explicit sex scenes in general, when it was pointed out that shifting the focus made him sound anti-gay, he corrected himself. He’s talking extemporaneously, he shifted the focus of conversation somewhat, that’s not unusual for anyone, let alone an old guy who’s trying to sound smart while also being entertaining for an interview. You can feel how you want, I’m cutting him all manner of slack.

  47. timncguy says:

    what channel are you seeing LGBT entertainment that consists of muscular men in jockstraps? I want to check that programming out.

  48. heimaey says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head – they are fine with it as long as they don’t see it. That’s the generation. Too bad – they are also the “freewheelin'” generation and need to “learn how to swim or” they’ll “sink like a stone.”

  49. BeccaM says:

    I’d be there, but I think I’m supposed to rent a U-Haul trailer and move in with some gal I met yesterday, go train a few dogs, then we shop for a new pair of Doc Martens.

  50. nicho says:

    Maybe the straight community needs to take a long hard look at what’s being passed off as straight entertainment. Married With Children, Kim Kardashian’s ass, The Bachelor (in which eligible straight women all fuck the same guy), Miley Cyrus twerking. What does that say about straight entertainment? Tacky would be an improvement. That’s the kind of stuff you see on mainstream TV. But your concern is appreciated.

  51. mirth says:

    Same here.

  52. Damien LeGallienne says:

    Maybe the LGBT community should tale a long hard look at what is being passed off to the mainstream as LGBT entertainment. It’s tacky. It’s like the Gay Pride parade. How do muscular guys posing in sequined jockstraps say anything about gay pride? That’s the kind of stuff that you see as LGBT TV.

  53. Damien LeGallienne says:

    Billy Crystal needed a job when SOAP was on the air and he took the part that made him famous. Now he is a has-been and tries to dismiss his humble beginnings. Typical of what he is.

  54. nicho says:

    What? You didn’t get the latest copy of The Agenda. We’re replaced “9-10:30 pm — go to bar and pick up trick” with “9-10:30 pm — go on Grindr and try to pick up tricks.” Other than that, it stays the same.

  55. timncguy says:

    Gee, and here I thought he was expressing his opinion that the world exists for the hetero world and we therefore need to take that into account and only show gay sex scenes if we are mindful of not offending the heteros for which the world exists.

    Too bad, based on your interpretation, that he said NOTHING about hetero sex scenes in his original statement. So, if I accept your interpretation, I would say he just threw that stuff about “i don’t like seeing straight sex either” to try to limit the damage from his first statement.

  56. BeccaM says:

    You make many presumptions, too.

  57. BeccaM says:

    Girl, I also know the difference between the actor, the character he played, and the fact it was writers who put all those words in his mouth and wrote those scenes for him to play..

    It was the producers who tried to claim that Soap was oh-so fantastic in its sympathetic portrayal of a gay character — when in fact all they kept doing was making him be Not Actually Gay.

    Jodie Dallas’s ‘spiritual journey’ was one in which he was erased from existence, replaced in what most shrinks would consider a psychotic break when he assumed the persona of a straight 80+ year old Jewish man — and finished the series without leaving that particular state of clinical (albeit harmless) insanity.

    Basically, even though he was a sweet old Jewish man (or thought he was), by normal definitions, Jodie Dallas did go irreparably insane. As a human being, his character was either killed off or committed suicide, take your pick.

    And with that, in response to your last crack, fuck off.

  58. slappymagoo says:

    Oh Jesus wept, Soap was a farce. It was satire over the over-the-top characterizations you’d find on regular soap operas. ALMOST EVERYONE was a clown. Burt spent a season thinking he could turn himself invisible. Danny was dumber than brain-dead. The Major was senile. Chester was a pussyfooting philanderer afraid of everyone and spent a story arc being hit on the head and having amnesia. Chuck and Bob? CHUCK AND BOB? There were kidnappings and demonic possessions and murders and MORE kidnappings and sisters sleeping with the same convict, and kidnappings by ALIENS who impregnated one of the characters. It would have been weird if they DIDN’T have that level of wackiness happen with Jody

  59. Butch1 says:

    Perhaps you should offer your services to him. ;-)

  60. slappymagoo says:

    “His clarification is appreciated, but it seems somewhat disingenuous
    because the earlier discussion wasn’t about graphic sex scenes in
    general at all, but just portrayals of gay characters.”

    Right, which is why he clarified it. Because (if he is to be believed) had be been asked about explicit sex scenes in general, he would have offered an identical answer. But since the question was about gay sex scenes, he was speaking off the cuff and seamlessly blending in his desire to not see any sex scenes with his discomfort when it comes to gay sex scenes that are meant to be shocking versus relevant to the movie.

  61. slappymagoo says:

    Dude, it was the 1970s. For most people, they’d assume someone they knew was a Martian before assuming someone they knew was gay. He was playing a gay guy, in the 70s, trying to figure himself out in an era where most people still thought the worst about gay people, and even well-meaning liberals would assume any man who wanted to make love to another man wanted to become a woman because, duh, how else can a man have sex with a man without it being icky? And, might I add, his character never went through with it, possibly because through the character’s “spiritual journey,” he became comfortable with who he was and what he wanted.

    Compared to gay characters on most tv shows today, yes, there’s a lot backwards and awkward about Jody Dallas. But by 1970s standards, the fact that there was a gay character on TV AT ALL…and not only was he not perceived as psychotic or a deviant but he routinely, with good humor whenever possible, dealt with characters who assumed he WAS a psychotic or a deviant…that was revelatory. The fact that he was quiet and gentle but not a mincing hand-waving stereotype changed a lot of people’s perceptions about what gay people are like.

    Truth be told, I’m not that big of a Billy Crystal fan. Aside from Soap, I need throw Momma From the Train, his small parts in Princess Bride and Spinal Tap…When Harry Met Sally for my wife, and I’m pretty much good. But he’s a guy who actually dealt with a lot of homophobic attacks throughout his early career, just because he was portraying a gay character. I was a kid when Soap was on, by all rights I shouldn’t have been watching it. But I did whenever possible, because I loved it so much. And Jody Dallas shaped a lot of my early understanding and empathy of what it might be like to be a gay guy when pretty much everyone else was telling me to stay away from faggots because everyone knows they’ll “turn” a young boy if they get the opportunity.

    So get off Crystal’s dick already.

  62. slappymagoo says:

    I’m good at translating awkward extemporaneous speaking. Let me help…
    “When it gets too far either visually … now, that world exists because it
    does for the hetero world, it exists, and I don’t want to see that
    either…”
    Translation – i acknowledge that there’s a lot of explicit straight sex scenes in contemporary entertainment and I don’t like it there, either.

    “But when I feel it’s a cause, when I feel it’s ‘You’re going to
    like my lifestyle,’ no matter what it is, I’m going to have a problem…”
    Translation – I feel that for some gay sex scenes, it’s not about what’s important to the plot, it’s not even about titillation, it’s shoehorned in specifically to make (straight) people uncomfortable. And the fact that these scenes are produced specifically to make people uncomfortable makes me MORE uncomfortable than if it were “just” a sex scene that felt relevant to the story. I’d still feel uncomfortable, but the (perceived, by a straight guy) aggressive nature of the sex scene takes me out of the movie or show.

    “…and there were a couple of shows I went ‘I couldn’t watch that with
    somebody else.” That’s fine. If whoever writes it or produces it …
    totally get it. It’s all about personal taste …'”
    Translation: I’m uncomfortable watching any kind of sex scenes with anyone, clearly I’m uncomfortable TALKING about sex scenes with anyone, it makes me self-conscious, it makes me wonder what the other person is thinking of me that I’m watching this…which is my hangup, and I admit it, but since you asked me how *I* feel, this is my answer.

    Hope that helps.

  63. Butch1 says:

    The more he speaks, the more he digs a little deeper into that hole.

  64. Butch1 says:

    Yes, it’s a bit out of his comfort zone when they become sexual and not slapstick.

  65. Butch1 says:

    It appears as though he is still trying to figure out what he’s trying to say. ;-

  66. Butch1 says:

    Both Anderson and Ellen handled this in such an intelligent way that it made that homophobic buffoon look rather silly. And yes, he does seem to be fixated on what “da gays” are doing too much of the time. Agenda? That is so 1980s and needs to be retired with the rest of the homophobic rhetoric and just put to rest.

  67. Naja pallida says:

    Which is generally what I do every time I see him on TV. For some reason I can’t stand the guy.

  68. Indigo says:

    Maybe the writers are starting to look around and portray gays as behaving more like the gay people they actually know in real life. Sweeping away stereotypes takes time. Many commercial writers use an old-fashioned derogatory trope/meme that they call “gay” and it’s what they know has sold for upteen generations so why change it?

    Oh, because reality . . . ? that’s a stretch when it comes to TV scripts.

  69. BeccaM says:

    On the other hand, the gay couple played by Zach Quinto and Teddy Sears on American Horror Story’s 1st season — Chad and Patrick — were rather well written and (to me anyway) one of the more believable portrayals of a gay couple I’ve seen on TV.

    There’s hope. But yeah, if people go thinking that the bulk of gay characters on TV and in movies has been positive — starting with Soap’s Jodie Dallas — they haven’t been paying attention.

  70. Indigo says:

    So he feels threatened by gay presence? Tell us more, Billy. Did you love your father more than your mother when you were a toddler?

  71. BeccaM says:

    Indeed, a very good time for this. Also love his take on that absurd TLC “My Husband’s Not Gay” show, and especially that clip where all of the vehemently Not Gay men are talking with each other about how attractive they find other men in the store where they’re shopping. Or that rather flaming guy going on about loneliness and donuts.

  72. Indigo says:

    Or hold his to the fire until he squeals like the pig he’s portraying.

  73. Indigo says:

    OMG! You have a Google machine! I must get one soon!

  74. Indigo says:

    That’s what happened. At least Will was still gay in the finale of ‘Will and Grace.’ And the gay clowns on ‘Modern Family’ are a sop at best, consistent with the hopefully nearly extinct Amos ‘n Andy tradition.

  75. nicho says:

    Maybe this is a good time for Anderson Cooper’s response to a right-wing Christian homophobe (triple redundancy?) on the same topic.

    http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2015/01/19/ac-ridiculist-ellen-degeneres-pastor-gay-agenda.cnn

  76. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I really don’t remember “Soap” very well, but just hearing about the sex change thing was very upsetting. I was asked once if I wanted to be a woman, and I almost lost it. I hope I was coherent when I explained to the guy that I was quite happy with my male body, I just wanted my male arms to be filled with another male.

    “where it feels like an every day kind of thing.”

    Mr. Crystal, it is an everyday think in my life.

  77. BeccaM says:

    I think he can’t make himself articulate it, but I’m guessing Mr. Crystal is admitting that seeing gay people being non-eunuchs makes him very uncomfortable.

  78. dcinsider says:

    Um, what?

  79. timncguy says:

    Here is another follow-up clarification from Crystal that doesn’t help him much at all:

    “I don’t understand why there would be anything offensive that I said.
    When it gets too far either visually … now, that world exists because it
    does for the hetero world, it exists, and I don’t want to see that
    either. But when I feel it’s a cause, when I feel it’s “You’re going to
    like my lifestyle,” no matter what it is, I’m going to have a problem,
    and there were a couple of shows I went “I couldn’t watch that with
    somebody else.” That’s fine. If whoever writes it or produces it …
    totally get it. It’s all about personal taste …”

    Of course, if he would speak in full English sentences, it might be easier to understand what he’s trying to say. I mean, what the hell is this part supposed to mean?

    “When it gets too far either visually … now, that world exists because it
    does for the hetero world, it exists, and I don’t want to see that
    either.”

  80. BeccaM says:

    Yep. Lots of folks mean well, and they try to be that way, but under it can be prejudices they refuse to admit are there.

    I’m willing to bet we all have them, one some area or another.

  81. BeccaM says:

    Actually, his character’s entire story-arc was disturbing and, taken as a whole, decidedly anti-gay.

  82. BeccaM says:

    Aye, that was the sum of it. To this day, I still remember the ‘All in the Family’ episode where the ‘big reveal’ on the episode with Divine was when she removed her wig, the whole point being so Carol O’Connor and the rest of the regular cast could be shown expressing their shock and bemusement.

    The other thing I remember was how for decades, it slowly became okay to have a gay character on a show — but they were not allowed to have an actual relationship. Crystal’s character on Soap, Jodie Dallas, only had his on-screen relationship for a few episodes before it broke up, and thereafter all of Jodie’s actual relationship interactions were with women. His being gay became a prop, nothing more.

    Jodie wasn’t allowed to be comfortable with his sexual orientation nor to live it as a happy and well-adjusted human being. First, he supposedly goes for sex-change surgery so he can marry his lover. (Something which, if one is gay, makes zero sense. Same as ever, they confused sexual orientation with gender identity.) So we have here attempt number one to “erase the gay man from existence and replace him with a woman.”

    When that doesn’t work out, Jodie has a brief sexual relationship with a hetero woman, resulting in a baby. Then he hooks up and becomes roomies with a lesbian — and THEY attempt to have a hetero relationship (which fails, but they become good friends anyway). Attempts number two and three to erase Jodie’s gayness.

    Finally the baby’s mother, Carol, shows up again and Jodie picks the baby over his friend. Carol then kidnaps the baby, so Jodie hires a PI named Maggie and they manage to rescue the kid and he wins custody…after which he proposes marriage to Maggie. By my count, that’s one gay relationship followed by three straight ones.

    Sure, the character maintained he was gay throughout the entire series, but after his breakup with Dennis, you sure wouldn’t know it from his actions and behavior.

    And then in the “turn the gay man into a clown” plot line, Jodie attempts the quackery of hypnosis to stop being gay. Reparative therapy, folks, and in the fictional world of Soap it’s presumed to work. Only he ends up being a heterosexual elderly Jewish man in his own mind…and the clownification of Jodie Dallas is complete. The gay man has effectively been exterminated, erased from existence.

  83. dommyluc says:

    I seem to remember that his character on “Soap” was going to get a sex change operation to satisfy his closeted lover (played by the dreamy Olympic athlete Bob Seagren), even though the Jody Dallas character was not transgender. And this was considered groundbreaking? “Yeah, you can be gay on TV, but at least make some attempt to have your dick cut off so you don’t make the entire audience uncomfortable”.

  84. 2karmanot says:

    “because you might reveal more about yourself and your actual attitudes than you’d like to admit.” Certainly not the first time we have been subjected to the closet bigotry of some liberals.—-Same goes for misogyny

  85. BeccaM says:

    Crystal recounts how the live studio audiences for Soap in the 70s reacted with nervous laughter whenever his character, Jodie Dallas, expressed his sexual orientation openly. Judging from his comments and his age, and the fact he’s apparently heterosexual… Well, he says “I wanted to stop the taping and go, ‘What is your problem?'” I think he’s not quite admitting to himself that if he were in that audience, watching from the outside, his own laughter probably would have been nervous and uncertain, too.

    Basically, people have the attitudes and persona they wish they could live up to, and that which they actually are. Sometimes desired goal and reality do meet, but sometimes they fall short.

    I have no proof of it, but I suspect Billy Crystal actually is mostly pro-gay. He’s certainly not a foaming at the mouth (oddly gay-sex obsessed) homophobe like Rick Santorum. But he reminds me a whole lot of the people I knew a generation ago, those who wanted to be seen as progressive and tolerant and accepting…until faced with an actual specific need to demonstrate it. Then you’d find out that in theory they were in favor of gay relationships, but (for example) they would admit they thought it was too much to see two gay men holding hands or posting photos of themselves kissing or whatever.

    Crystal is 66, and so I think he falls right into this particular generational age range. He seems to want to support gay rights, but won’t admit to himself how he unconsciously does see straight and gay relationships as being different, not equal. And thus he let slip that his definition of ‘too much’ and ‘in our face’ is probably rather different between straight and gay sex scenes…and he’s not quite ready to deal with the latter.

    His clarification is appreciated, but it seems somewhat disingenuous because the earlier discussion wasn’t about graphic sex scenes in general at all, but just portrayals of gay characters.

    Object lesson? Be careful what you blurt aloud in public, because you might reveal more about yourself and your actual attitudes than you’d like to admit.

  86. dcinsider says:

    When I first heard of this I was pissed. With friends like this . . . .

    But he probably didn’t think about how his remarks would be read, and I don’t believe he is some kind of homophobe we need to hang in the town square over this.

    We react in milliseconds today, and sometimes do an injustice to people who are otherwise our friends. He has more or less recanted his remarks. I’d say give the guy a pass and let it go.

  87. nicho says:

    Yes, but his point is that we should be seen as the occasional freak, comic relief, or object of ridicule — the way blacks used to be portrayed — not as real characters who exist in the world.

  88. nicho says:

    There are two buttons on your TV, Billy. One of them changes the channel. The other turns it off.

  89. PDiddie says:

    Didn’t Crystal portray television’s first openly gay TV character (Jodie on ‘Soap’)? I mean before Paul Lynde or Wayland Flowers or Liberace or…

    http://www.out.com/entertainment/today-gay-history/2013/09/13/today-gay-history-billy-crystal-goes-gay-proudly

    Almost the first, the Google machine tells me. I would have thought there would have been a little more tolerance absorbed somewhere along the way. Maybe he’s just getting curmudgeonly in his dotage.

  90. mirth says:

    The UK Independent reported that Crystal was specific, saying gay scenes aren’t “to his taste.”

  91. 2karmanot says:

    “I hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face… to the point where it feels like an every day kind of thing.”—- But it is Ms Thing, it is, and don’t worry, your face is safe.

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