Kurt Cobain famously asked of his fans: “If any of you, in any way, hate homosexuals, people of different colour, or women, please do this one favour for us – leave us the f**k alone, don’t come to our shows and don’t buy our records.”
Of course Cobain wouldn’t live to see the more inclusive society he dreamed of come to fruition. But then, neither, dear reader, have we.
As last Episode 11 of season 5 of AMC’s The Walking Dead proved with a Twitter tirade (here) that mixed hatred, bile and disappointment over the ‘Gay Kiss’ between Aaron and his partner Eric, the 21st century viewer still hasn’t caught up with the times.
Creator Robert Kirkman has addressed the issues of fan controversy before on the printed page and, while not being as verbose in giving unsavoury fans the grand ‘Vas de faire encule’ as Cobain might have been, Kirkman’s been relaxed in letting people know his liberal stance with the forthcoming ‘gay character’ promise in the pipeline for a while now. In the comics over a year ago, and in the TV show now, he’s delivered in spades.
First thoughts on the reaction was that society hasn’t caught up yet to our own future enlightenment. But this isn’t an essay on the ingrained cultural values of people, intransigent backtrackers and bigots whoever they may be. Tom Waits once said people are just ‘Monkeys with money and guns.’ That’s pragmatic and maybe just a touch defeatist, just like the tirades of great comedy defeatist’s George Carlin and Bill Hicks – jaded white guys who knew better and had lived long enough to become prophets of their own sayings.
This isn’t about that. Because it’s easy to celebrate hate by giving it airtime. Anyone with an internet connection is an automatic commentator and some of those licensees aren’t fit to comment on the weather, never mind inclusivity via sexual diversity in a society that, despite compelling arguments and evidence thats shows gay people are people, and have been for as long as there’s been people, are still half in the bag on the issue.
No, this is a small essay about addressing a matter of progression through a televised medium, and getting that matter out there. Showing it for all to see. It’s okay. It’s alright. It, at this stage, should at least be considered normal.
Still though, there’s that backward thrust. That dive into ignorance, by a very visually vocal element of the population that are fed fat with righteousness by a media desperate to tell their ill-considered opinions.
Again, this isn’t an essay giving oxygen to that argument.
Instead, it’s an essay celebrating the fact that gay people get to kiss on TV. On prime time, in what this writer has always considered the most progressive of genres. Every time something like this gets airtime it’s a good thing. It’s normalising and validating in a way that no troll can undermine. Make it positive. Make it about love, not hate or anger. The dark side, are they.
Ross Marquand who plays Aaron in the TWD TV show expressed to Variety: “I think for Rick and also for the audience it’s nice to see that relationship between Eric and Aaron. It’s clear to anybody watching this that these two absolutely love each other and they’re not afraid to express that.”
And that’s beautiful. In amongst the violence and murder and deceit and betrayal and hard-core zombie disembowelment there has also been love and children born and forgiveness and life and inclusivity and trying to be better.
Living in a world like ours, it’s as difficult as in an undead apoc to rise above the day to day b#@tardly behaviour. But it’s important to focus on the good stuff. Even in a zombie apocalypse.
While a ‘gay kiss’ on TV in the 2010s isn’t exactly ground-breaking, it’s a form of acceptance that is normalising. The more normalising of different lifestyles we can integrate into our collective consciousness the better.
On November 22, 1968 Star Trek episode ‘Plato’s Stepchildren’ courted controversy when Jim Kirk (Bill Shatner) and Lt. Uhuru (Nichelle Nichols) shared TV’s first interracial kiss. That same year the Civil Rights act became a part of the American legislature. It was a landmark, just like the first televised interracial kiss, and brought about an inclusivity that, while not yet considered normal, would be hard fought for, for the next part of the century and beyond.
It was illumination amongst ignorance and the message here, in 2015, is that ignorance prevails when apathy presides. Stay positive, stay strong, love sci-fi and keep fighting. If Sci-fi has taught us anything, it’s that it’s a fight we can win.