Community fans who watched last week's episode, "Advanced Gay," likely realized soon that it was anything but advanced. The central plotline, that Pierce's family's Hawthorn Wipes brand was a secret hit in the gay community, played on every stereotype of gay men imaginable. Both Pierce and Shirley evidenced their homophobia, and the show as a whole didn't do much to counter these central characters' views.
It's disappointing. Most of the time the show is especially smart about a number of issues, from gender to race, and achieves that smartness by toying with stereotypes so well it subverts them. It didn't work with this one, as Alyssa Rosenberg pointed out at her ThinkProgress blog: "Homophobia isn't adorable or excusable. It's not a character trait. It matters. And I wish Community would acknowledge that."
Luckily for us all, Dan Harmon, the show's creator, seems to understand. He weighed in on the Twitter fight that ensued after the show on his blog, saying that he sides with the folks who registered their offense at the episode:
"If you weren't offended, don't bother being offended by the people being offended. They're not doing anything wrong. I don't think anyone that "complained" was asking for Community to be censored or for it to become a schmaltzy PC pile of shit. I think they were asking me to stick a post-it note on my brain regarding the situation, which I can do without making the show any less brilliant or funny. It will be all the moreso the more I continue to care about the audience's experience."
I think some anti-political-correctness folks thing that people who complain about the biases constantly registered in the media expect everyone to anticipate every possible offense at all times. That would be nice, but impossible. Everyone has blinders. What's nice about Harmon's response is that he knows that, when people complain about his take on things, he should listen. The biggest problems with conversations about race, gender, and sexuality is how knee-jerk the reaction is when someone is accused of being insensitive. It would be nice if we could finally get beyond that, and the spirit with which Harmon looks at these issues is what makes Community such a pleasure to watch. Most of the time.
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