I admit it: I no longer understand gay stereotypes, or even if they are gay stereotypes anymore. What are the rules, and the ethics, now?
Take Jamie, the newish character in the Progressive insurance commercials, as longtime spokes-character Flo (Stephanie Courtney) approaches late middle age and viewer fatigue. Everything about Jamie is stereotypically gay, and on top of that, he’s a silly character. (The actor is excellent and funny. Boy, will I be impressed to learn that he is straight. …let’s see…HOLY COW! His name is Jim Cashman, and apparently he IS straight! Wait…then he is deliberately playing a transparently gay man? And making him both funny and goofy? Silly gay characters were standards fair in Hollywood for decades, but the message was that gay men were ridiculous and laughable.
I don’t see how Jamie is any different from the outrageous gay stereotypes that were ridiculing gay men right up until recently. Like Martin Short, in “Father of the Bride”:
He was widely criticized for that character (Short was doing an extended Danny Kaye imitation). Why was that act offensive to gays, and “Jamie” not so?
From an earlier era, here’s the great Eric Blore…
Then there was, of course, Paul Lynde…
I always felt these characters sent the message that ostentatiously gay men were inherently funny in their speech patterns and mannerisms. If that isn’t the message now, what is it? I assume the idea is to “normalize” gay speech patterns and mannerisms, but if that’s the idea, and not that there’s anything wrong with that, why is Jamie funny?
I am really confused by Jim Parsons on “Big Bang Theory,” who sounds gay, moves gay, and—surprise!— is gay, but who plays a straight character, though much of his humor arises from Parsons’ classic gay delivery and mannerisms.
Can someone explain the rules? I need to know if it’s all right to laugh or not.