In Washington and Hollywood, Things Fall Apart
It has become impossible to read a story about this administration and not conclude we are witnessing the disintegration of the integrity of the presidency. Now turn the pages to the news in the world of entertainment. What you'll find is, well, pretty much the same thing.
Lesbo-a-go-go is, mercifully, lesbo-a-gone-gone. In July, ABC broadcast the last two previously unaired episodes of "Ellen." The series went out with guns blazing and with the finale taking the promotion of homosexual marriage to new lows.
Right before the ceremony in which Ellen's parents are to renew their vows, Ellen "proposes" to her girlfriend, Laurie, who turns her down. "To me," Laurie explains, "gay weddings are just a sad reminder of what we can't really have, that somehow our love is less legitimate because it doesn't rate a government endorsement... I would love to marry you... but I'm going to hold out until we can have the real thing."
Then, each woman puts a plastic ring on the other's finger, they kiss, and each smashes wedding cake into the face of the other, with Laurie licking some of the frosting off Ellen's face. How precious.
(By the way, the long-running "Family Matters" also signed off in July as meganerd Steve Urkel became an astronaut and went on a mission. It's too bad Ellen and Laurie weren't the ones sent into outer space, in search of a planet more tolerant of homosexuality than narrow-minded Earth.)
Such is the pathetic state of affairs in television land. And it's about to get worse, apparently. The New York Times' Bill Carter wrote in his July 22 column that "several" prime time television programming executives believe this fall's group of debuting series is "lackluster." One, who didn't want his name or network mentioned - and who can blame him? - commented that "new show development was weak everywhere this year." An anonymous NBC exec remarked that at his web, there is a "total absence of enthusiasm" regarding its fall premieres. Moreover, a July 27 article in the weekly Broadcasting & Cable reported that television critics taking part in the July press tour didn't care for the "sometimes rough-edged language" in the upcoming blue-collar Fox sitcom "Costello."
The well must be drying up. Not even the networks, those fonts of breathless hype, like their own new shows. And now even the critics, who when confronted with envelope-pushing content have traditionally salivated like Pavlov's dog, feel TV has gone too far where foulness is concerned. Could all this mean that the industry is realizing the error of its dumbed-down, coarse ways and will attempt a return to high-quality, tasteful prime time fare... Don't believe it. TV executives could saturate the airwaves with quality programming at the snap of a finger but won't do it no matter how many "Touched By an Angel" successes you give them. They will not accept this reality not because they don't understand it but because they don't want to accept it.
Some in Hollywood simply deny truth; others shamelessly promote falsehoods. Last spring in these pages, I decried the sycophantic media treatment given at the time to the late hard-line Communist actor/singer/athlete Paul Robeson, treatment inspired by the centenary of his birth and the awarding of a posthumous Grammy to him.
The reinvention of the Robeson historical record continues. In the "Family Fare" column of the July 17 New York Times, under the headline, "American Hero, Onstage and Off," writer Laurel Graeber declares that "Robeson's life did not lack for courage or vision... his devotion to civil rights was... passionate" and goes on to tout a play about Robeson, meant for young audiences, which "conveys [his] integrity and the high price he paid for it." Graeber concludes, "After watching the portrayal of Robeson's persecution during the McCarthy era, it was hard not to note a recent scene outside the theater: earnest youths soliciting signatures to get a Socialist Workers' Party candidate on the electoral ballot. No doubt Robeson would be pleased."
The militant left just won't go away. Margarethe Cammermeyer, the lesbian ex-Army nurse affectionately played by Glenn Close in the egregiously biased, Barbra Streisand-produced - OK, that's redundant - 1995 NBC movie "Serving in Silence," is running for Congress in the 2nd District of Washington state. Should she win the Democratic primary, which she most likely will, she'll face Republican incumbent Jack Metcalf in the general election.
Donors to her campaign include talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic - and Close and Streisand. If their candidate wins, watch for a sequel, "Ms. Cammermeyer Goes to Washington." At which point, presumably, she'll meet Bill Clinton, and somehow all this will make sense.