The dearth of creativity that went into titling this post aside, I thought I’d tackle yet another double standard that appears to exist in our culture. To begin with, let me refer you all to my primary example, Season 4 Episode 5 of Top Chef: Masters, “Holly Madison’s Pool Party.”
In this case, the background behind the show itself is pretty inconsequential: 12 award-winnings chefs compete against each other to raise money for charity, et cetera. On this season the chefs spent the vast majority of their time in Sin City [Las Vegas, aka where Gordon resides] and rubbed shoulders with quite a few celebrities. The superstar for this episode was Holly Madison, of Playboy’s “The Girls Next Door” fame, and their task was to cater her pool party.
Enter James Oseland, editor of Saveur and one of the show’s judges. At the party musclebound hunks abound, and after one is encouraged to sit next to the critic he somehow manages to ask “how are you guys gonna like, keep the, this thing [abs], going with, wha- all this food.” As he refers to the man’s midsection he gives it a few pats, prompting responses like the following [which I found on The A.V. Club, of course]:
And Larrybaby’s points are all incredibly valid. Thankfully the guys and girls who peruse the TV Club reviews weren’t the only ones to notice this, and celebrity chef website [yes, it is a real thing] The Braiser did a short bit on the episode. Oseland’s antics are described there as follows:
So, naturally, the daytime cocktails start flowing, the croque madames sizzle on the griddle, and James Oseland starts giddily stripping pool boys. Wait, what?! Yes, Saveur editor-slash-very esteemed and shmancy Top Chef: Masters judge James Oseland gets a little on the trashed side of tipsy at brunch and takes matters into his own hands when a cluster of bikini-clad women fail to get a pool boy to take his shirt off.
James marches right on over to the ripped hunk of manflesh (née “Warren”) and strips his shirt right off. And then he grabs another equally buff guy and steals his shirt, too! James Oseland is shameless, you guys.
Of course, the article then goes on to describe how they’d love Oseland to be their celebrity BFF, but we won’t go into that. The point I’m trying to make is that this man, who, yes, is a homosexual, acted in a way that was inappropriate. More than that, he wasn’t stopped but was actually encouraged by those around him with cheers.
I’m not saying that I dislike watching homosexual characters on television, or that they make me uncomfortable; far from it. Max is easily my favourite part of the sitcom Happy Endings, and his adventures in romance are both engaging and hilarious. I’m still waiting [and I know I’m not the only one] for Raj on The Big Bang Theory to come out of the closet, and more and more I’m realizing that it really is just art imitating life. Living in Toronto I’m very aware that there’s a gay population out there, and it just so happens that TV has finally gotten around to representing them.
What I don’t want to see is gay people, men or women, being handsy when they shouldn’t be. I don’t really appreciate it in heterosexuals, and the same extends to all other orientations. If James Oseland thinks a pool boy is cute that is fine. If he wants to touch him, that is also fine. If he touches him in front of others and without the permission of said pool boy, to flirt openly in a physical way, that is not fine. It’s kind of gross.
There’s not much more I can add to what larrybaby said, because he [or she, I don’t know] sums it all up really well. I’m not a homophobe by any means, but I’d like the world as a whole to keep people to the same standards. Let’s not cheer someone on when they paw at another person they’re attracted to. If we’re going to acknowledge homosexual urges and relationships as on par with heterosexual ones let’s treat them the same way.
I end with another comment highlighting the actions of both Oseland and his fellow critics [context: the hunks were asked about sit-ups, and one actually did push-ups for the critics’ benefit a little later]:
First off all, ick. The idea of non-permitted personal space invasion (especially forcibly disclothing) is unsettling and disturbing. It makes me squirm in my seat because the perpetrator just reduced another person to an object. Granted (I hate granting anything in regards to this type of interaction but…) granted, this was in a somewhat sexualized environment but still, people are people- not things. I agree that if normalization of multiple orientations can be truly assimilated we have to maintain equality in restriction as well as permission. Good post.
Pingback: “Would U?” Consider This Jezebel Feature Sexist? | Culture War Reporters