Today is Saturday, September 21, 2013. It gives me a certain amount of pleasure to see images and entertain ideas that juxtapose traditional America and queer culture. There has always been a certain queerness in cinema, but more recently there is a growing and expanding queer cinema in the world and over the last four or five years a number of positive gay characters have become central to various television show story lines, whether ‘Days of Our Lives’ in America or any of the number of day time and pre-prime time television programs in Europe. In the U.S., however, usually rather stereotype gay characters are found in comedy and sometimes reality shows–as if Americans can’t really handle gay/queer drama and gay people who are not affected in any way. And maybe they can’t. I really don’t know. I just know that gay men, for example, embody a full spectrum of feminine and masculine characteristics, and the stereotype of the effeminate hairdresser simply doesn’t hold. Yet American TV doesn’t really show gay men much outside the lines of that stereotype. European TV, on the other hand, goes the opposite direction and mostly shows rather strong, masculine gay men (Germany’s ‘Forbidden Love’, Finland’s ‘Secret Lives’, Britain’s ‘Ellendale’ or ‘Hollyoaks.’)
In music, you never find gay themed love songs, unless someone has used a love song and laid it over gay images to create the illusion of a gay theme. Sometimes those are well done, but mostly they’re a bit cheesy and not particularly artful. If there is any reference to gay love in music, it is normally homophobic lyrics in Hip Hop/Rap. Macklemore and Lewis countered this homophobia when they released their rap video “Same Love”, which takes a lot of the sting out of the homophobia in music. But I think that has also created a little wave of change in music. That change and willingness on the part of the public to embrace gay themes in music can be seen in Steve Grand’s video “All American Boy” and more recently his video, “Stay.” “All American Boy” was described by most critics as a contemporary urban country sound, and as such, given the gay-theme that is in it, was a ground-breaking innovation.
Steve Grand’s music and videos have led to a number of attempts on the part of the public to blend country-western music with gay images and post it on Youtube. Some are successful, some are not, but what intrigues me is the juxtaposition of the traditional country-western artists and sound with the queer images. One recent example I found is Josh Turner’s “Your Man” laid over very sexy images of very handsome gay men. There is another interesting ‘urban country’ music video that is, in fact, a gay themed song, “Better This Way” by Doug Strahm. It’s not the best song in the world, but the message about the internalized homophobia of an older, masculine gay man who works construction is direct and clear. Then there’s Eli Lieb’s “Young Love”, which is more in a pop-rock style. I’ll let you be the judge as to their artistic merit, but the following music videos say something to me about the ‘queering’ of America.
Commercials are also developing gay sensibilities. The following is an anthology of commercials from the U.S. and Europe that clearly show a growing queerness.