Filmmaker, television writer and producer Ryan Murphy has had – and hopefully will continue to have – a brilliantly successful career. He has a collection of established, highly popular television shows to his name (Glee, Nip/Tuck and American Horror Story) and he also directed the Julia Roberts drama Eat Pray Love. Murphy is openly gay, something that under normal circumstances would not be worth mentioning. But these are not normal circumstances, as Murphy is currently being targeted, rather viciously in my opinion, simply because he features gay characters in the material he writes.
The most vocal of protests has come from a hateful ultra conservative group known as One Million Moms. This organisation allegedly consists of mothers who want to protect their children from the dangers posed to them by the media. It is a sad fact that this group is currently obsessed with peddling homophobic attitudes. Murphy is their current object of hatred in their bigoted crusade to champion discrimination under the guise of protecting innocent children (we’ll get to how offensive that is later on).
All this fuss about Murphy has been kicked off by the upcoming broadcast of his new show, The New Normal. It is a comedy about a loving couple (made up of two men – shock horror!) who decide to have a child via a surrogate mother.
I don’t think ordinary, decent people (and in this case I mean decent in the sense that you don’t see a problem in two men being in love and wanting a family) will see this as the end of the world. It’s a positive thing that TV shows are now admitting that gay people exist and they can be more than just manipulative villains or hairdressers. But, judging by the near-biblical levels of hysteria that frame the statement made by One Million Moms, you’d think the apocalypse was tomorrow. Here is an extract from what they have said:
‘To sum it up, this show is about a homosexual couple who hires a surrogate to have their baby… It is no surprise that openly gay Ryan Murphy, is one of the executive producers and director […]
‘NBC [the US broadcaster of the show]is using public airwaves to continue to subject families to the decay of morals and values, and the sanctity of marriage in attempting to redefine marriage. These things are harmful to our society, and this programme is damaging to our culture.”
Tempting as it is to just remind this group of out-of-touch bigots that there is an off-switch, plus hundreds of other channels to watch, it is important to understand what is really being implied here. The statement makes it clear that, in the eyes of One Million Moms, homosexuality is immoral. They also talk of families being ‘subjected’ to this immortality, and that the result will be ‘harmful’ to ‘our society’. Basically, if kids watch this show, THEY ARE AT THREAT. What from? The immorality of homosexuality, of course.
This argument, deranged as it may sound to most, seems to desperately hold onto the myth that homosexuality is somehow catching. One could also perhaps argue that in this statement, One Million Moms is attempting to keep alive the demonstrably incorrect suspicion that homosexuality is linked to paedophilia, and that somehow the move towards total equality for gay people puts children at risk from a new breed of predator. I do not have to say how utterly repulsive (and wrong) such attitudes are.
Murphy has recently responded, according to greginhollywood.com, saying that he thinks the members of One Million Moms would actually like the show if they watched it as ‘their points of view are delivered with sensitivity’.
From my point of view, this whole debate is a non-argument. I do not mind people harbouring discriminatory views, so long as they don’t expect other people’s lives to be hampered by them. I have very little time for those who stand against homosexuality, equal marriage and gay adoption and claim to be protecting the concept of ‘the family’. It is a form of homophobia that is not only potentially damaging to the millions of gay teenagers the world over, but it also serves to weaken ‘the family’. If you want ‘the family’ and marriage to remain strong and relevant (and I for one firmly believe they should be), don’t attack people like Murphy who are trying to help society, via the medium of entertainment, negotiate and discuss these issues and push towards a brighter, more inclusive future.
The New Normal airs in the US this autumn. The UK rights have been acquired by E4 HD & E4.