Big doin’s in Gay Town! If you haven’t yet heard about “The Great-ish Alice Ripley Facebook Scandal-ish of 2010”, here’s what went down: Last week, Alice responded to a negative critic of Broadway’s Next to Normal by posting a comment to her Facebook page which included this statement: “This frustrated actor (I won’t say fag) is my new best friend!”
Though she apologized for her choice of word after receiving backlash, angered “fans” have planned to protest her show on Thursday evening.
Now, mine may not be the most objective opinion, as I’ve been a die-hard fan of Alice’s for hundreds of years, and if she’d posted an invitation to a “Pin the Nose on the Hebe” party on her Facebook page, the Les Miz poster she signed for me 12 years ago would still hang proudly in my bedroom. In any event, this is what Randy Rainbow (me) is posting on his blog today:
In this age of Political Correctness, we’ve made ourselves – in all good intention – obsessed with words, as an expression of our greater hope for equality and civility. But it’s proven in many cases to be a frivolous distraction from real issues; rousing self-appointed “heroes” to fight battles where there are no true adversaries. We’ve been trained to respond to red flags and the instant one goes up, our ears perk, our hearts beat a little quicker and we immediately adopt a fight-or-flight attitude (or, if we are on Jerry Springer, we might throw a chair.) To some, this hypersensitive regulating of language may seem like monumental progress for humanity, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s only a thin candy coating on something that goes much deeper.
It’s easy to feed to people, though. It’s clean, simple and even color-coded; perfect for those (like Alice’s protesters) who require a more “no nuts” approach to things, perhaps by virtue of their possibly less-than-average-sized brains. It seems these No-Nuts, if you will, are incapable of holding more than one concept in their heads at a time: “Yes, she chose to use a word with negative connotation” and “No, she is not a threat to our people”.
Context, context, context, kids! I can’t stress it enough. I personally love and respect words (just look at how many I've used in this blog post alone!) But words are words are words. It’s what’s behind them (or not behind them) that deserves our attention. To visit the Facebook page of Tony winner Alice Ripley – an obvious ally of the Gay community – and accuse her of homophobia over the casual use of an arguably poorly-chosen word describing 97% of her fan base, is like visiting Santa Claus at the mall and accusing him of ageism for “talking down” to young children. (Whatever… You get my meaning…)
I applaud your allegiance to the fags, you darling, young Alice Ripley protesters – I, myself, am considerably faggy. However, I urge you to save your strength and choose your battles more wisely. There are much bigger giants in the sky.
LONG LIVE ALICE RIPLEY!