“Straight But Not Narrow” Should Probably Work on Being Less Narrow

-by Gabrielle Friesen, student staff

Josh Hutcherson, one of the stars of the Hunger Games and 2010’s the Kids Are All Right is going to be honored with the GLAAD Vanguard award. He is receiving his award for his work as an ally to the LGBTQ community, including the creation of the “Straight But Not Narrow” campaign, which “is primarily directed to the young, straight male by using comedy and their peers to positively influence their views on LGBT teens.” Hutcherson is obviously well intentioned and has said that “…[the campaign] hits close to home for me. I have a lot of gay friends in Los Angeles. My roommate’s gay and I lost two uncles when I was young to AIDS, so it’s an important cause in my family.” However, the SBNN campaign is just…bad. I’m a little bit disappointed that GLAAD could apparently not find someone doing better work to award, and could not find someone from within the community itself to honor. Its always seemed weird to me to literally give allies awards.

Looking at his video for the SPNN campaign, there are more than a few problematic elements.

“So, there’s a lot of gay people out there, talking to gay people about being gay.”

Good job, you said gay a million times in one sentence.

“But we are a group of straightsssss… [Hutcherson looks to the side, confused, looks back] Straights! And we’re here to say that we’re okay with people being gay.”

So, one, there’s his privilege in that he don’t even know what the language for in-groups and out-groups is, and he apparently couldn’t even check before filming what the right language to use is. Two, oh thanks man, I’m glad you’re here to let me know that you, Josh Hutcherson are okay with me being gay. Thanks, I couldn’t continue living without the approval of the straightssss…..straights is the word right?

“Does it really matter if your guy friends like guys over girls? I mean, doesn’t that kind of just leave more girls for you?”

Wooooooowwwww. No. Just no. That does not “just leave more girls” for straight dudes. The way he words it makes it sounds like those straight dudes are just entitled to ladies, like we’re just waiting on a shelf for dudes to come get us, and those gay men are just that many fewer dudes to beat in the rush to Black Friday. Also, way to ignore queer women there, congrats, we love you for that. Apparently Hutcherson is not ok with me being gay, or isn’t even aware that ladies can be gay too. While this campaign is directed to straight men, about gay men, you don’t need to throw queer women or women in general under a bus in order to do that. If you think you do, the people you are talking to maybe aren’t worth the time, if they’ll only stop being oppressive towards one group, so long as they can continue being oppressive to another group.

“And furthermore, we’re not going to let anybody say anything bad, about anyone, ever again in the history of the world. [Hutcherson mouths “ever”]”

Hear that everyone? Hutcherson has declared a moratorium on all vocalized oppression forever. Thank you, Josh Hutcherson, all us gays weren’t aware that we could just say no one could be mean to us. Thank you for declaring that no one could ever be mean again.

Also, his spoken part is 28 seconds long. 28 seconds. Good job. Most of the videos for this campaign are under 30 seconds long, the longest is about 1:40, but is padded with silences and goofing around. Is he really getting an award for taking about how he’s down with the gays for 28 seconds, and getting some other people to do likewise? Really?

And all of the other videos take this joking tone- oh la, we’re a bunch of straight dudes we can joke about this, heterosexism won’t negatively affect us, we’ll just got an award for joking around. The gays love that shit.

My other favorite is Corey Monteith’s:

“So, maybe you like to play football, maybe you like to sing and dance, maybe you like both, maybe you don’t like either, it doesn’t matter, just be yourself.” Look man, I know “Glee” loosely reduces gay and straight to the singer/dancer and football player dichotomy, but fuck you, is all I’m saying.

Actually, I lied, Gethin Anthony’s

is my favorite with “it doesn’t matter if you’re a guy who likes girls, or a guy who likes guys, or a girl who likes guys and girls, or a girl who wants to be a guy, or a guy who dresses like girls, or a transvestite lesbian stand up comedian, or a Transylvanian vampire lizard, no, wait, yeah, no, ok, so they’re not human beings, you can do what you like to them, but all those other categories I mentioned, human beings, right? We’re all people, which means that we deserve each other’s respect.” Only apparently not, since you want to make fun of people’s identities. Someone within the community can make fun of certain labels, but you are straight, you don’t get to make fun of the things we use to label ourselves, to demarcate ourselves from the erasure, the war zone that straight people have made our lives. Fuck you, listing Transylvanian vampire lizards as a thing, even though you make the joke that “haha, I’m aware that’s not a real thing.” Hispter/ironic assholery and hipster/ironic heterosexism is still assholery and heterosexism. It doesn’t make it all right if you point it that it was wrong to say it in the first place, after you’ve gone ahead and said something harmful.

And I know the point of this campaign is to use humor to educate, but excuse me if I don’t think that straightssss (is that the word? I’m still confused?) get to make light of heterosexism and homophobia. That’s not a topic that you get to make jokes about or be funny about.

While Huthcerson is successfully meeting baseline human decency (congrats, here’s your award, courtesy of GLAAD), this campaign is not particularly stellar. It looks like something some well-meaning highschoolers would make for a class project at best (its poorly edited, which looks like it’s the point, but it looks bad), and at worst is offensive and damaging. For all his fame and money, he couldn’t do any better? And GLAAD couldn’t find anyone who has done more meaningful work for this award? Really?

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4 thoughts on ““Straight But Not Narrow” Should Probably Work on Being Less Narrow

  1. Yep. It makes me more than pissed off that people glorify this ‘progressive’ rubbish. Straight people literally winning awards for saying “we’re okay with people being gay!” Lolololol!

    How revolutionary.

    I won’t even go into their multiple failings when it comes to how they talk about (or don’t talk about) half of the human population.

  2. I get that this campaign isn’t working an a basis of getting everyone informed and saving everyone, but it’s attempting its contention; make douche bags less douchey (its target audience of young male heterosexuals).

    Like, I would love to call people on their crap and talk about how girls are not something men are entitled to, etc., but what do douche bags walk away with from that? Probably a derisive snort, a Face Book post and the murmur ‘crazy bitch’ (not endorsing it, just keeping it real). So Hutcherson’s putting a PERCEIVED positive (with gay boys around, it means that they won’t be with your potential girlfriend) is there for a reason. What it means is ‘Look at how you treat the people around you. Do you treat them poorly because of their sexuality? Why is that? If they’re a guy, just think of it as them being a cool guy who is GUARANTEED not to cause you problems in the romance department’.

    Everything he says is there for a reason. I haven’t identified his ‘Straightsss’ blunder (though if I had to guess, I would say he was playing on being able to empathize with dumb boys who don’t know the labels that they use in day to day inequality. He’s therefore displaying that he’s ‘one of them’ to try to seem like they’re on the same level). This was obviously meant to be in there because it was filmed, and it would have been cut if he genuinely screwed up. His thing about girls was to try to show guys just one more reason they shouldn’t be dicks to gay peers (and with him trying to use the ‘we’re all friends, let me show you the way, ignorant straight boys’ card, it makes sense as something you say between friends. Girls do it to boys among friends. Not saying it should be a wide spread thing that gays are lazy hyenas who won’t join in on the feeding frenzy and are therefore good company, but with the campaign’s focus demographic and his casual, friendly approach, I’m not exactly grieving it). The happy-go-lucky ‘let’s have world peace and be happy’ is really no worse than those posts on tumblr with a million notes. He’s showing himself to be a masculine enough guy (I hear that sort of thing is considered by some as something cool…?) who won’t take part in discrimination knowingly.

    Most importantly, this ad is aimed at STRAIGHT MALES. Because they are leagues behind straight women in terms of treatment towards any sexuality but their own, and they’re being thoroughly lapped by anyone in the LGBTQI community. Their ‘joking around’ and ‘getting awards’ is for addressing the demographic that commits the most hate crimes, throws around the most slurs and isolates the most people tries to help the cause in a way that doesn’t make them uncomfortable or aggressive or even more hateful (which is the sad reality of many LGBTQI campaigns, and usually ends in them not caring or getting worse with the confrontation. You can’t campaign to all straight people in the same way you can campaign to people who are versed in sexuality and understanding. They don’t get it or don’t see the importance), but showing that boys can still be their laid back, naive, unthinking selves without being jerks to their gay peers.

    The reality is that you can know someone’s wrong, say someone’s wrong and prove someone’s wrong, but you can’t make them admit it by throwing them the cold hard facts. This campaign just asks them to change or adjust, which isn’t such a bad step, if only a little one.

  3. Ok look, you are making a HUGE drama over people who are just trying to help. Some of the SBNN leaders may come across to you as uninformed or discriminating, but is discrimination and bigotry what they’re going for? I don’t think so. They’re taking a stand for an issue that’s important to them. I’m sorry, but LGBT rights activism is not limited to only LGBT people. You seem a little narrow-minded to me.

    • I don’t feel that one opinion piece is a HUGE drama. I understand that they’re not attempting to be harmful, and I really do appreciate that they are trying, which I’m sorry did not come across more in the article. However, for individuals with large amount of resources at hand, and a lot of public sway, I do feel like they could have done a little more research, tried a little harder, and put a little more effort in. I love allies helping the movement, but LGBTQ activism is trying to help LGBTQ people, and I think that this particular attempt could have had a little more impact and overall been more helpful, had it been a little tighter.

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