As I started to write this piece, I noticed that the orchid on my desk had started to wilt. Not to worry, as my Kylie mousemat and my lucky waving golden Chinese cat give me plenty to look at. A lesbian work colleague recently commented on how ‘gay’ my workspace was. I suppose the USB-powered disco ball doesn’t get me any man points, but I didn’t know what to make of it. Was it just friendly banter? A snide remark? Should I have reported it as homophobic bullying and expect the Stonewall sirens to sound outside the office demanding that she comes out with her hands above her head? But wait, she’s gay too, so it’s OK. Isn’t it?
After Chris Moyles and Jonathan Ross, it’s now Derren Brown’s turn to speak before he thinks. It seems his miraculous ability to predict the lottery numbers is only balanced out with his inane proclamation that the bonus ball was for “women and gays”. A strange image of pots, kettles and worms firing out of a can comes to mind. In a move as bewildering as one of his stunts, the freshly-out-of-the-closet Derren seems to have overlooked that’s he’s alienating the very community that he’s a part of.
Is this a case of a homophobic homosexual? Tongue-in-cheek or otherwise, Derren is skating elegantly on very thin ice here. Despite 27 (and counting) complaints to Ofcom and a possible investigation, I feel any disciplinary action is unlikely. “But I’m gay too, so it doesn’t matter” would be a likely defence by many gay people who find themselves caught in this situation. But it doesn’t change the fact that what he said was blatantly unacceptable, regardless of his sexuality. Derogatory remarks towards gay people (and women, in this instance) are hurtful no matter where or who they come from, and in the context of a programme such as Derren Brown’s, has no place on our screens.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not for banning our glib British humour altogether, but the likes of Brown, Moyles and Ross sometimes need reminding that however irreverently jocular they try to be, that they have camera lenses and microphones in front of them and therefore have a careful and important responsibility not to offend a large percentage of their audiences.
Maybe I’m being far too PC. Let’s see if I can get away with saying the bonus ball was for blacks and Jews. Wouldn’t go down well, would it? But replace both with women and gays and all of a sudden it seems more acceptable. This needs to change.
The flamboyance of Four Poofs and a Piano has undoubtedly contributed to the success of Jonathan Ross’ chat show, as has Aled Haydn Jones’s kitsch input to the Chris Moyles Breakfast Show on Radio 1. But it seems they can only repay them by putting their gay colleagues down. Apart from the odd PinkNews.co.uk article and Stonewall’s Bigot of the Year award, little is mentioned of their crassness towards the gay community.
An apology from Derren Brown wouldn’t go amiss but wouldn’t undo the offence that 27 people felt to the point of getting up from the sofa and contacting Ofcom.
In his naivety, Brown seems to think that gay people are getting more tolerant of the odd gay put-down or homophobic quip. This simply isn’t the case.
I’m off now to listen to Will Young on my new Hannah Montana MP3 player. I may even buy a lottery ticket. How very straight of me.