I’m the One Who Needs the Cocktail!
From the New York Post’s unavoidable Page Six, which was compelled to cover Bruce Jenner’s transitioning by interviewing one of the Village People: “Randy Jones — aka the Cowboy from the ‘Macho Man’ band — was spotted at John and Tommy Greco’s K*Rico in Hell’s Kitchen, exclaiming, ‘I need a cocktail! I can’t wrap my mind around the news on Bruce!’… Jones concluded: ‘In the animal kingdom, there are patriarchal societies, like gorillas, and ones where females rule, like a lion pride.”
A valuable observation, I suppose, but someone else is going to have to explain its relevance to Bruce Jenner’s supposed transgender identity.
To be fair to Page Six, it’s not entirely outrageous to recruit a Village Person to opine on Jenner’s transition; Randy Jones and the other Villagers appeared with Jenner in Nancy Walker’s unwatchably bad 1980 movie “Can’t Stop the Music.” (No, seriously — it’s not camp, it’s not fun, it’s just godawful, though Jenner does look fetching in a hairy-abs-revealing cut-off T-shirt.)
It has scarcely been a secret for the past year that Jenner is transitioning from male to female, but in recent weeks the coverage has been unremitting. In terms of sensationalism, the story has everything going for it: one of the world’s greatest athletes, new hairdos and hot pink nails, public shock, and Kardashians (ignobly, he’s Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney’s stepfather). Given the story’s gasp mongering potential, though, the Page Sixes of the world have taken a backseat to more thoughtful, even shockingly supportive treatments of the issue. Slate, CNN, the Huffington Post, and many other media outlets have published smart, knowledgeable pieces on the issue. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times went so far as to call for Wheaties cereal to put the transgender Jenner on its box, as it did after Jenner won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
That’s not to say that every media outlet has responded heroically. The Times’ Jacob Bernstein reports that the tabloid In Touch “even went so far as to superimpose a picture of Mr. Jenner’s head onto the body of the actress Stephanie Beacham, adding red lipstick to his mouth in an attempt to feminize his appearance and better reflect the headline, ‘Bruce’s Story: My Life as a Woman.’” Even the headline was a lie; Jenner certainly did not tell her story in the scuzzy pages of In Touch. In fact, as of this writing, Jenner has maintained total silence about his transition. Excuse me, her transition.
This dreaded pronoun crisis stems directly from Jenner’s lack of confirmation. How does one refer to a trans woman who refuses to verify herself as a trans woman? A number of trans spokespeople have refused to comment on Jenner on the grounds that until somebody makes a decision to come out as trans, it’s nobody’s business to speak publicly on the matter. They have a point, but I think celebrities like Jenner forfeit their right to privacy the instant they appear on a “reality” show the sole purpose of which is to commercialize and commodify the minutiae of their lives, as Jenner does as the stepdad in “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” Once the wall between private and public is breached, you can’t just — you should pardon the expression — stick your finger in the dike.
And what to do when Jenner crashes his Escalade on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu? Does one stick to the story at hand and leave gender transitioning for another day? (The New York Times.) Or does one just let all journalistic standards fly out the window and conflate the two stories? (The New York Daily News.) I’m going with the former. It’s like writing a story about George W. Bush’s hobby, painting portraits and landscapes, and somehow seeing the need to mention that he’s suspected of snorting cocaine while an undergraduate at Yale. That would be totally and completely unfair.
This issue’s “Crank of the Fortnight Award” goes to wackjob radio commentator Linda Harvey, who had problems — big problems — with Katy Perry’s halftime show at the Super Bowl, particularly the song (wait for it) “I Kissed a Girl”:
“This 2008 song is a prime expose of the lies embedded in the homosexual agenda,” wrote Harvey. “Not that Perry leads that effort. Just like her flirtation with Satan, she’s merely joining and providing theme music for a movement that long pre-dates her. There would be a predictable reaction if a well-known homosexual woman crooned that she had ‘kissed a boy and liked it’ and she ‘hopes her girlfriend don’t mind it.’ If such a song even saw the light of day, it would be instantly labeled bigotry, hate, and right-wing extremism. After all, one is never allowed to experiment in that direction. Satan and his mouthpieces will make sure such a notion never gains traction.”
There is much to be said about the sheer tastelessness of Perry’s half time show: the gaudy flames costume she first appeared in; the fact that none of the sets and costumes had anything to do with each other from scene to scene, leading to a garish hodgepodge of gargantuan and mostly ugly gimmicks; and, most of all, her incredibly boring songs.
But Linda Harvey touches on none of this. As with Randy Jones and his lion pride remark, would someone be kind enough to let me know what the fuck she’s jabbering about?
To close this column, I was going to take a potshot at Brian Williams. But I changed my mind in light of NBC’s suspending him for six months, an absurd overreaction. He’s fallible. We all are. And that’s not news.
Follow @EdSikov on Twitter.