Show about Zombies Ignites Hatred Over Eight Second Kiss

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“The rights and freedoms of all People should be Mainstream.” Quoted by Greyson Orlando- fighter for equality.

Everyone be warned! Be very afraid! Something most horrific has happened that may destroy us all.  I’m not talking about the zombies that may be lurking in your closet, or the ones who may be creeping up behind you as you read this. I am talking about a kiss. Beware the two men who show affection.

It sounds pretty silly doesn’t it? This is exactly how many viewers of the popular show The Walking Dead reacted only a week ago. During an episode, there was featured an 8 second kiss between two men who were just happy they were alive. Only moments after the episode ended, the media flooded with homophobic remarks that were full of hatred. The amount of rage against this short lived moment on television was utterly jaw dropping.

For those that have not seen The Walking Dead, it is basically a show put on by AMC that centers on a massive, zombie apocalypse. It is widely known for its intense action, violence and gore. There is a lot of cannibalism, among other disturbing elements. The show has actually featured a lesbian, who is one of the main characters, but suddenly when two men who aren’t even regulars on the show share a small smooch on the lips it had gone too far, when no one blinked an eye when everything else happened, like the gore and rape. There are people right now who are calling for the shows cancellation because producers and directors chose to show a small, affectionate kiss between two men.

The scene takes place in an old abandoned warehouse where the two men have sought refuge. One of the men is wounded and can’t walk, and is sitting on the ground lying up against his duffle bag with his injured foot propped up. The man, who is obviously his romantic interest, walks in and discovers he is alive. The man walks over to examine him and becomes overwhelmed with joy and gives him a heartfelt, comforting kiss. And that is what the whole uproar was over.

I decided to challenge this and I showed the video clip of the kiss to eight selected straight friends of mine. They did not know what they were watching when I showed them. What they saw didn’t offend them, it didn’t turn them gay, and those of them who watch the show can’t wait for the next episodes. This blog goes to them. This time my straights will take the stand with their statements in support of a very sweet gesture the producers and directors of The Walking Dead created with a simple yet moving scene of love.

Note: The statements you are about to read are opinions expressed by each individual and are their own. The credit goes completely to them. None of them have been edited and will appear as they were quoted.

Nick Jaramayo– All I saw were two people showing affection. This level of hate shows how the world really is.

Amanda Personally, this doesn’t bother me because I have seen this in the media periodically my whole life.

Michael Napodano– Condemning a show because of two guys kissing, but condoning a worldwide flood that killed every living thing, including innocent animals, women and children, just doesn’t make sense to me.

Robby Headley– It is hard for me to engage in a serious debate with people like this, because their opinion isn’t important to me, nor does it matter to me. This is 2015, and this level of silliness and hatred won’t stand.

Kaitlyn– There has been homosexuality since the beginning of time. One simple kiss on a television show shouldn’t cause such a dramatic amount of chaos. This is not the first show to feature two men kissing. People need to realize that love is love. Just because some people don’t agree with it, that does not mean it isn’t going to happen. Everyone is equally entitled to their happiness. A man should be allowed to show his love and affection to another man. If you don’t want to see it, don’t look. Maybe they feel the same way about you.

David Stevens Kudos to the Walking Dead for showing a moment of genuine, non-exploitative affection between two gay characters. While one rarely has to wait longer than a few minutes to see two straight people kiss in any movie or TV show, it is refreshing for a major show to give some screen time to a display of love from a same sex couple. It is high time that such scenes become part of the entertainment norm, and no longer such a rare phenomenon. Our LGBTQ sisters and brothers have sat through enough hetero kisses; it’s time that we straighties return the courtesy.

Kelly Digges There’s a quote I really like from author Mary Robinette Kowal: “It’s not about adding diversity for the sake of diversity; it’s about subtracting homogeneity for the sake of realism.” In other words, the reason to have characters with a wide variety of backgrounds is that real people have a wide variety of backgrounds. Your stories (and worlds, in the case of science fiction and fantasy) will be deeper, more realistic, and more engaging to a wider group of people if they reflect the diversity that the real world has to offer. Despite the diversity of the real world, there’s very little pressure on media to be inclusive. It is always safe for your characters to be straight white males. Diversity in media doesn’t just happen–it takes work. So when media creators make sure their cast of characters covers a broad spectrum of humanity that deserves recognition. Hopefully someday a gay kiss or a majority black cast will be totally unremarkable. But we’re not there yet. The thing is, though, whether I–a straight white man–commend those creators is actually not very important. Sometimes when creators make sure their fictional world is as full of different kinds of people as the real world is, I see people (almost always people who don’t belong to the represented group) say that it’s “forced,” or “pandering.” But what they’re really saying is that it didn’t speak to them–it was clearly meant for somebody else. And that’s how “everybody else” feels almost all the time: like they’re reading and watching and listening to things that are made for somebody else. And when creators take the time to tell stories that speak to those people, it can have a huge impact. (Just as an example, Whoopi Goldberg was inspired to become an actress in part by seeing Nichelle Nichols’s character Uhura on Star Trek–a black woman in an important role on television at a time when that was virtually unheard of.) So that’s really the important part: making sure that a broad swath of people sees themselves and their experiences reflected in media. I am always in favor of that.

Greyson Orlando– I have been watching The Walking Dead since season 1. It is an excellent show, well written, and with a diverse set of characters. It is also intensely violent and gory. It showcases some of the best and a lot of the worst sides of humanity. That’s what makes it so compelling. And now there are calls for cancellation over, of all things, a kiss. It was a kiss between a man and his partner who is just happy to see him alive. This is a show that has featured adulterers, racists, murderers, psychopaths, and the undead. And yet, when two men kiss, there is an outcry. Suddenly it’s gone too far. The reason for this, I think, is fear. It is the fear from those who oppose gay rights that they will no longer be able to pretend that gays do not exist. It is the fear that society will “accept” homosexuality. This is exactly why scenes like this gay kiss in The Walking Dead need to exist. Without scenes like this, these people will be able to continue to pretend that sexual orientation is not a real thing and that gay rights is something that needs to be stamped out before it goes “mainstream.” The rights and freedoms of all people should be on the mainstream. The more society looks at homosexuality as a normal part of humanity, the faster we can eradicate prejudice and oppression of gays. I commend the creative team for The Walking Dead in taking us another step in that direction.

“On behalf of the show and its cast, we commend the directors, writers and producers for making this sweet yet simple kiss. Thank you.”

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An Open Letter to Conservative Christians

Open Letter
Walter Beck
Picket Lines
Drag Bars
Queer USA

March 18, 2015

The Family Research Council
American Family Association
National Organization for Marriage
Bryan Fischer
Scott Lively
Tony Perkins

Dear Conservative Christians,

I am a young American queer activist and I have been on the front lines since I was a teenager. It’s been a long, thrilling twelve years in the trenches. And of course, you gentlemen and your constituents have been my opponents throughout this time. As you are well aware, the Supreme Court is set to rule on the marriage issue in June and the smart money says that the ruling will go our way; which is why I’m writing to you.

You have no doubt been thrown into a panic by the slew of legal rulings in our favor and the changing cultural dynamic. And believe me, on a certain level, I sympathize with you, you gentlemen have been power brokers in American politics for the last thirty years and it can be hard to give up that sort of power without a fight.

So in a last ditch effort to maintain a semblance of control and power, you have been sponsoring, calling for, and lobbying for so-called “religious freedom” bills in various states throughout the country, claiming these bills are necessary because you have been viciously persecuted by us queer folks. To double down on the PR panic spin, many of these bills have been rushed through as “emergency” legislature.

Well, we have spent the past decade or so trying to play diplomatically with you gentlemen, trying to allay the public of all the fears you pump into them. We have maintained a strictly squeaky-clean, non-aggressive image, even shunning some of the more radical elements of our community in a vain attempt to maybe convince you to tone it down on the paranoia.

Our efforts have failed on that level and this is one queer activist who’s taking the gloves off and is done lathering on the soft soap with you bastards. You continue to speak of us in the most degrading language imaginable, comparing us to people who practice necrophilia and bestiality; you continue to compare us to child molesters, reiterating long debunked claims of “recruitment”; and a few of you have openly compared us to Nazis, trying to blame us for the Holocaust, one of the most horrific events in human history.

And now you’re the ones who want to claim that you’re “persecuted”, yeah well, listen up, cupcake, you self-righteous hateful bastards don’t know the first goddamn thing about persecution! You don’t. Who do you drudge up to offer proof of such persecution? A few local businesses that were found guilty of violating civil rights laws? A couple of reality TV stars who got put through the media shredder for speaking bigotry? That’s all you have? Please! Those who were so “persecuted” seem to be making a pretty decent living on the conservative speaker circuit, raking in thousands of dollars in speaker fees, and getting more free publicity than they could have ever dreamed of; seems to me like “persecution” was the best thing that ever happened to them.

You assholes wanna know about persecution? While that phony redneck Phil Robertson was whining to Fox News about how persecuted he was for comparing us gay folks to people who practice bestiality, I was reading obituaries and articles about young brothers and sisters such as Leelah Alcorn, Zander Mahaffey, and Ash Haffner who were murdered by society because they felt they weren’t loved enough, that nobody cared if they lived, died, or grew mushrooms in their crack.

Those young brothers and sisters certainly weren’t the first that we had to bury way too soon, we’ve also had to lay to rest brothers and sisters such as Tyler Clementi, Ryan Halligan, and Jamie Hubley. In the aftermath of tragedy, we tried to make things better by urging states to pass stricter anti-bullying laws and what did you do? Hmm? You tried to eviscerate such laws by making sure there were “religious protections” in them. Yep, that’s exactly what you did. Before these young brothers and sisters were even cold in the ground, you were testifying before state legislators claiming that if a student beats one of our young brothers or sisters in the face with a Bible, that it should be excepted from such anti-bullying laws. That’s right; you went out of your way to protect the bully.

And it ain’t just in the legal realm that you have pissed on the graves of our fallen brothers and sisters, your shock troops, your street preachers seem to delight in the death of another one of ours. I remember when I was a student at Indiana State University and we were holding a candlelight vigil for the fallen, there was a street preacher by the name of Brother Larry who just had to come to the event, waiving his Bible and yelling his bigoted rhetoric. I’ve seen similar reports about other street preachers doing the same thing. Hmm, seems like there’s not much difference between you guys and the Westboro Baptist Church, does it? You can’t even let us mourn and bury our dead in peace.

But it’s more than death, isn’t it? You go out of your way to make our lives a living hell even as we walk the streets. Your politicians that you bought and paid for will whine into the nearest microphone about it’s “a hostile environment for people of faith” out there, but let’s cut the shit, alright? It’s still a hostile environment for us and it’s one that you created. You got a story for me about a kid who was kicked out of his home because he told his parents that he was a Christian? You got a story for me about an employee who was fired because her co-workers found out that she went to church on Sunday? You got a story for me about a state where Christians can’t get legally married simply because they’re Christians? Hmm? You got any of that for me? Nope, I didn’t fucking think so.

The old die-hards of your movement may fall for this phony PR spun “persecution” bullshit that you gentlemen are slinging, but the American public isn’t. The raw, naked truth is out and open for anyone to see, you’ve been kicking us in the groin for the last fifty years and you’re trying desperately to get a few more shots in before you’re shuffled off to the graveyard of American politics. Our bloody and bruised bodies have fought too long and too hard to let you get away with it anymore.

But you know what I think really burns you guys up? It’s all the battles you’ve lost over the last decade. The hundreds of thousands of us that you didn’t get to see in the grave or in the hospital. We repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, even though you howled at the top of your lungs about how it would “destroy” the military. Shit, guess what? That didn’t happen. Our military is doing just fine and now our service men and women can march without fear or shame. No more will they face the hell of denying themselves to serve their country. And while we still don’t have marriage equality on a national level, Federal judge after Federal judge has thrown out various state statutes and state constitutional amendments, doubling the number of states with marriage equality over the last year from 18 to 36 (and more states added all the time); we now have happy couples in over half the country raising families, just as happy as clams in high tide. Oh man, that just has to fry you, doesn’t it? All those gay and lesbian couples raising kids and being all-American families. I know, you swore up and down that “God’s wrath” would be upon this country if we were allowed to get married. Well gee fellas, we’ve had marriage equality in some parts of the country for over a decade and I ain’t seeing any plagues yet. As Tom Waits once said, is God away on business? Or maybe God decided you guys were full of shit from the get-go and doesn’t really mind that we’re becoming more free and happy with every passing day. Maybe God saw you for the con artists and hucksters you really are. Ever think about that?

Welcome to the end game, gentlemen. It’s D-Day, the writing’s on the wall. As the Good Doctor once said “the fat is in the fire”.

I’ll see you on the last front of your culture war,

-Walter Beck

The Pink Panthers Movement

Guerrilla Warfare: The Splintering of the Fight for Equality

Guerrilla Warfare
“Strength and muscle and jungle work…” –Warren Zevon

We’re coming up to a crossroads on the equality front, brothers and sisters, and I don’t think we’re quite ready for what’s ahead of us. For nearly the last decade, we’ve depended on a united national front to secure marriage rights for all across the nation and very soon, I believe we will reap the rewards of that long hard battle when the Supreme Court bangs the gavel in June. I’ll write about that when the time comes.

It’s not just on the marriage front; we also depended on national organization when it came to the repeal of DADT and the seemingly endless fight to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (the battle still rages). We’ve learned to unite as one and so far, it’s paid off pretty well, even if some of the best street fighters don’t always get their due.

While we’ve been reaping the rewards of a united movement, the backlash has begun to hit us. It started in Arizona, with the attempts to pass bills barring trans folks from using public restrooms (failed) and an attempt to pass a “religious freedom” bill which would allow folks to dodge anti-discrimination laws by claiming a “sincerely held religious belief” (also failed).

Many of us, me included, thought that was the end of it, Arizona is one of the most conservative states in the country and if they couldn’t get such bills passed, no state could. They tried a state approach and it failed, the battle was over, chalk another one up to our side.

But other states are more hard-headed than Arizona, in the year since Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the Religious Freedom Bill, other states have taken up similar bills though few of them have succeeded.

In North Carolina, Senate Bill 2 would allow magistrates to opt out of issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples if the magistrate had a “sincere religious belief” objecting to such licenses. The bill would also allow registers of deeds and deputy registers to opt out of issuing marriage licenses. Within the text of the bill, there is no definition of “sincerely held religious objection”. None, no legal definition of what such an objection entails. Senate Bill 2 remains in the North Carolina Statehouse and has not been made law yet.

Arkansas tried for more subtle language with SB 202. The bill became law just a little while ago and it prohibits local towns and counties from protecting classes not already covered under state anti-discrimination law. The bullet of the bill reads “A county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state shall not adopt or enforce an ordinance, resolution, rule, or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.” Guess who isn’t covered under Arkansas anti-discrimination laws? LGBT folks.

West Virginia has virtually copied the text from the Arkansas bill in their own HB 2881; “No county, municipality or other political subdivision may adopt or enforce a local law, ordinance, resolution, rule or policy that creates a protected classification or prohibits discrimination on a basis not contained in state law.” The West Virginia bill has not been made law yet.

The most maddening state of the bunch has undoubtedly been Oklahoma, where Representative Sally Kern has introduced two bills directly attacking LGBT citizens. There is no coded language, no attempt at double talk; the bills say it in black and white.

House Bill 1599 states “No taxpayer funds or governmental salaries shall be paid for any activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage. No employee of this state and no employee of any local governmental entity shall officially recognize, grant or enforce a same-sex marriage license and continue to receive a salary, pensioner other employee benefit at the expense of taxpayers of this state. No taxes or public funds of this state shall be spent enforcing any court order requiring the issuance or recognition of a same-sex marriage license.” And if a state judge decides to issue a marriage license anyway, the judge will be dismissed on the spot “If a judge violates this act, the judge shall be removed from office pursuant to Section 1 of Article VII A of the Oklahoma Constitution.”

House Bill 1597 is even more insane, and serves to directly attack us: “No business entity shall be required to provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges related to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association.” Under this bill, a business owner wouldn’t even have to claim a religious belief; they could straight up say “We don’t serve queers, now fuck off” and they would be fully protected under this bill.

Neither of these bills has become law yet.

So where does that leave us? Well as you can see, while we’ve been fighting as a united national front for our equality, our state legislators have been trying to slip a fast one on us by introducing bills to undo our efforts of the last ten years. They’re realizing that there’s little hope of winning on a nation level, so they’re trying to do it piece by piece, state by state.

We’re gonna have to learn how to do it locally and grassroots again, brothers and sisters. I’m in Indiana; I won’t be able to help a sister in Oklahoma fight against Sally Kern’s bigoted insanity. Likewise a brother in Arizona won’t be able to help me if my state legislation decides to pull this bullshit (which by the way, they have). Sure, we can still offer each other moral support, but the hard fact is, the backlash is occurring locally, so it must be fought locally. We’re gonna have split up into the jungle and do it guerrilla style.

But how? Many of us have forgotten how to fight locally since we’ve gotten used to fighting nationally. The first point is find your local allies, your friends, your classmates, your co-workers, hell, it could be your favorite bartender. Find people in your area who are just as tired of this crap as you are, organize them, have a discussion group, a meeting, whatever you wanna call it. Start scoping out your state’s legislation website and find bills related to this cause, usually they are related to “religious freedom”, anti-discrimination, or marriage. Local news is also a prime resource for this, they will often report on legislation being considered before an official bill is drafted.

The second point is finding your local legislator; they’re certainly more answerable to you than your congressional representative or senator. Go on your state’s website and find the contact information for your local legislator, there is usually an email address and phone number listed. Call them, email them, and let them know that you give a damn about LGBT folks in your area and that you won’t stand for them being treated as second-class citizens. Just as a personal note, I prefer a phone call, it’s harder to ignore than an email.

If you need some handy information on how to organize locally, I recommend Naomi Wolf’s Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries. It’s not LGBT specific, but it’s a pretty good field manual and should help you on your way.

Remember, our Revolution started with a local fight. The Stonewall Riots were sparked based solely on a local issue, the NYPD raiding gay bars. A group of locals got fed up with that and said “Enough!” And well, you know the rest of the story.

Community organizing and grassroots street work are the only way we’re gonna roll back this backlash against us. It’s gonna take some good local sweat and muscle here, you’re gonna have to get to know your neighbors and know your local laws. Roll up your sleeves, brothers and sisters, and let’s show these bastards that we ain’t finished by half yet.

Thoughts on the Oscars 2015

oscars     In general I’m not a big fan of Hollywood and celebrity status. Although I love a good horror, documentary or animation.

Often I’m often turned off just by the concept of celebrity alone. People who make their living pretending to be one of us average folk in society.

     Thin and beautiful millionaires convene once a year for the Academy awards and give each other gold trophies, thank god and advocate world peace.
There is no doubt in the potential power of celebrity in concept of platform and audience alone but too often I am disappointed. When I
think about world problems and celebrities I wonder why there are so many stars with so much money, resources and platforms that
go unused? Why aren’t celebrities more of a driving force for social change?  Of course as a gay man I’m happy to see an out gay man host
the Oscars. It’s a cultural shift in our society in visibility alone.  For too long Hollywood erased gay men. Rock Hudson, Robert Reed and Liberace come to mind. All gay male celebrities that died in the closet from HIV.  So yes I was content with Neil Patrick Harris. Although I’ve never been a NPH fan or watched his work I was excited about the possibilities of a gay man, live with an audience of 37.3 million at his feet and a room full of money.  However I was only to be let down by poop jokes and a half naked NPH standing in his briefs; amounting to what some on twitter described as desperate. Tegan and Sara, lesbian sister singers whom I usually enjoy, performed a horrible song called “Everything is Awesome” the sound was funky and it’s just an untrue statement in these times because everything is not awesome. The awful sound and swirling, plastic legos dancing around the stage and audience was appropriately fake, and plastic just like that song.  One of the lego dancers gave Oprah a fake, plastic, Oscar award. All performers knowing of the ire the Oscars were drawing over race. All knowing not a single acting nominee was a person of color. Giving Oprah a fake Oscar felt too staged and desperate for blackness. At one point Neil Patrick Harris put the microphone in the faces of two random blonde, white women, sitting in different sections who both turned out to be ‘seat fillers’ NPH seemed horrified the two people he picked were seat fillers. I was interested in why his subconscious chose two, white, blonde,thin women? Even more interesting knowing the controversy around the Oscars, Why were the seat fillers white, blonde, thin beautiful women?
     Openly bisexual singer Lady GaGa for whom we have long depended to bring the edge and a beat performed a slow, classical like tribute to The Sound Of Music. A musical, A movie not every gay man enjoys believe it or not. A musical shot before my time, I struggled to understand why GaGa whom is way younger than me would choose such a number but I was weaned on techno, dance, and rock. For me, musicals are like a joke that I’m not in on. I struggle to enjoy any aspect of them and have never understood the almost cult like following The Sound Of Music has with some gay guys. Likewise people often don’t understand my bias towards musicals.  I have a hard enough time paying attention, combine any slow music with the long night and long speeches and it becomes a job. If I was directing the Oscars I would insist on upbeat, happy, or energetic musical numbers to offset the long night, long speeches and to wake people up at home.  If I was in charge of the Oscars I might request Oscar winners say their thank yous to 25 different people via twitter or press release, after the show.
     German Playwrite Bertolt Breecht once said “Art is not a mirror to reflect reality but a hammer with which to shape it” and Austrian writer Ernst Fischer once wrote “In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful must also reflect decay”.  I don’t know about you but I was born and raised in the city in a post segregated school and neighborhood. My playmates, classmates and teachers were often black. At no period in my 40 years alive have I lived anywhere where blacks sing, dance and deliver gold gifts to rich white people.
     There was supposed to be a red carpet protest but regrettably it was cancelled at the last minute per request of the Director of Selma.  On twitter I pushed the boycott organized by black twitter where I was met by comments like “blacks have to earn Oscars on merit” But how can you be nominated if there are no roles for you?  Why was Selma the only black movie? And consider the budget difference in black movies. Selma was only budgeted for $20 million while American Sniper had $60 million to work with. And why are there black movies to begin with? because traditional, white Hollywood refuses to portray the reality that many of us live in racially diverse neighborhoods.
     Neil Patrick Harris didn’t perform poorly but I wasn’t razzle dazzled. I can’t help but wonder, does NPH, a rich white gay, famous since childhood have any idea what it is like to be a gay youth homeless on the streets as I was and thousands of lgbt youth are now? Does Neil Patrick Harris have any idea what its like to struggle with food insecurity as many of us do?  Why does it seem like if every rich, famous, connected gay could organize with Cyndi Lauper at the FortyToNone Org we could start to put an end to homeless LGBT youth? And while we are on the topic why was Cher the only celebrity to say anything to Governor Hutchinson in Arkansas about SB202? How many movie tickets, t-shirts, books, recordings etc do we have to buy for everyone in Hollywood to tweet Arkansas?  Why don’t celebrities care about us? Why aren’t they all hopping on a plane to defend the lgbt community riding off into the sunset to save the day together? I mean if they really wanted to; they could do that, but seriously a tweet would of been nice.
     “We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850 — Bravo John Legend.  2,266,800 people are in US, federal, state and private for profit prisons.  1 in 31 people in the United States is in the grips of the criminal justice system. The highest rates in the world thanks in large part to the war on drugs. Many of these prisoners are in for non-violent crimes and 1 in 31 also potentially represents 1 in 31 families that are shattered by the government due to our national twisted obsession with punishment.
     Depression and suicide is rampant. According to the World Health Org approximately one million people per year are dying of suicide.  An increase of 60% in the past 45 years. Suicide did get a shout out from best documentary short subject, producer Dana Perry. Her film is Crisis Hotline.
     3.5 million people are homeless in the United States, many of whom work at least part-time if not multiple jobs just to stay alive. 46.5 million Americans are living in poverty now, the highest the poverty rate has been in 54 years! The creative ways people are coping with their situations deserve Hollywood’s attention.  If you believe in listening to the message and not the messenger, Patricia Arquette gave a shout out to equal pay for women but her comments were overshadowed by backstage comments about gays and people of color finally helping women for a change of pace. And again she is a millionaire complaining about her pay but hey, at least she got a conversation started!
     Activism is alive and thriving in LGBT rights, marijuana and #BlackLivesMatter among other movements. Washington DC is divided. Many people are angry. The country is polarized, black and gay power is palpable, these are very exciting times we are living in where things are rapidly changing.  If Fischer or Brecht are correct about art reflecting society good and bad, Hollywood is doing a miserable job in my opinion. Academy membership is 94% white and 76% male. These numbers are totally unacceptable. However these conditions are producing some amazing and resilient people who will help shape our countries landscape. It may not be pretty, romantic or funny but these are the conditions millions of us are living under. But it’s the truth and people like the truth and what’s familiar. People like to see their lives reflected back in the arts. I can only guess but it’s probably why reality television is so popular. Even though most people know that reality tv is often scripted or staged people are clinging to the hope  that some moments are real and authentic.
     The arts and the movies may sometimes have the power to change hearts and minds by storytelling but not if that story is placed too far out of reach. We can’t all be lawyers and Doctors and that movie has already played. The only thing close to reality drama in my book is Empire. A new, groundbreaking show on Fox that reflects, angry, black, gay, homophobic, and violent America. It’s an urban jungle out here and people want something real they can hold onto. Something that represents them and their struggles.
     In the end the Oscars were punished with their lowest  viewership since 2009 and a decrease of 17% from just last year.  To make matters worse; despite her lengthy career in show business, Joan Rivers, Queen of the red carpet itself was left out  from the death roll montage. Perhaps the academy knew it would be controversial and felt that controversy was Joan’s calling card.  The twitter outrage was one final controversy in the life of Joan Rivers. The culprit most likely, unfortunately is the Hollywood boys club. Johnny Carson locked her out of any recognition as a serious, legendary entertainer and in a final dig of disrespect so did the academy. Something you would expect from an academy that is 94% white and 76% male.
     The Academy Awards have the potential to change, evolve and diversify becoming something people of all backgrounds can enjoy but only if movie makers themselves have the courage to take those steps so that Hollywood’s future is diverse, bright (and dark) and symbolic of the actual times we live in.