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Jul 9, 2012

Missing the point on gay missionaries

Brendan O’Neill has an item in ‘The Australian’ today on the ‘reality’ (or what passes for it among the arts crowd) show coming out soon on ABC. From the description, it seems to be something along the lines of ‘Pricilla, Queen of the Desert’ on an educational outreach program.

The idea is to send a group of drag queens out into outback South Australia with a production crew to teach all those redneck, homophobic, slack jawed yobos they expect to meet out there that they should be nice to gays who get in their faces:

The message of the film, which won awards at Cannes and has become a cult classic, was mind-bendingly simplistic: LGBT people are modern and sussed, whereas working-class straights are a bit daft, sometimes even dangerous.

Now this prejudice is being brought back to life for a new reality TV show based on the film. ABC News reports that in the show, "a busload of men in stilettos, outrageous dresses, giant wigs and wild theatrical makeup" will head into deep, dark South Australia in an attempt to create a "wave of acceptance."

Hosted by actress Toni Collette, the series will involve "a crew of 120, four buses, and 10 drag queens" -- a veritable army of warriors against outback stupidity -- who will help to "break through social stereotypes", says producer Stephan Elliott. It is not only about entertaining the inhabitants of South Australia, says Elliott; it is also about "educating them", opening their eyes to the virtues of "acceptance of minority groups".

Patronising much? What we have here is a kind of queer colonialism. The tolerance-promoting drag artists might carry copies of Vogue rather than the Bible, and wear elaborate pink dresses instead of stiff dog collars, but their mission is not unlike that pursued by the old Christian lobby that ventured into the outback to "tame" Aborigines. …

… The new Hollywood category of GBF -- Gay Best Friend -- demonstrates how much the mere mortals of the straight world are now presumed to need a calm, intelligent, perfectly coiffured gay guy to guide them through life's ups and downs. …

… The "magical negro", as cultural critics refer to it, has long been a staple of modern American culture. This is a black character who uses his natural wisdom to help a white character fix the problems in his life. Often a prisoner or a janitor, or some other kind of manual labourer, the "magical negro" is designed only to help and enlighten confused whites.

Now, "magical homos" are promoted to educate confused or prejudiced straights. The planned "Priscilla" reality TV show is really a magical homo extravaganza, demonstrating the extent to which gayness is now used both to pass judgment on allegedly inferior working-class lifestyles and to try to improve them. …
The point that is missing is that the attitudes suggested as existing in the bush, is entirely the perception of the liberal arts crowd in Sydney and Melbourne who have only their own judgmental self-righteousness to use as a guide. Most people out in regional Australia understand it goes on and couldn’t care less.

But hey; 'Pricilla' had homophobia in it, so it must be right eh!

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