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Television PopWrapped | Television

Could ABC's 'Black-ish' Be A Little Homophobia-ish?

Brittany Jones | PopWrapped Author

Brittany Jones

10/14/2014 12:38 pm
PopWrapped | Television
Could ABC's 'Black-ish' Be A Little Homophobia-ish?  | black-ish
Media Courtesy of TV Fanatic
ABC's Black-ish has been hailed as being a progressively challenging success. Going against common stereotypes, the show focuses on an upper, middle class black family. Though the show is doing a great job when it comes to race, some are worried that they are not as cautious when it comes to LGBTQ issues. In the second episode, father Dre (Anthony Anderson), realized that he needs to talk to his son, Andre Jr. (Marcus Scribner), about sex. Dre decides he and his son should have "the talk" while doing "manly" things like lifting weights and playing basketball. It is when Dre is in the middle of stretching when his father Pops, played by Laurence Fishburne, walks in and says that, "it looks a little gay." The Daily Beast's Tim Teemon summed up the problem by saying:

“I had thought, stupidly, television was done with this lazy, insulting phrase—of something being ‘gay,' of an action being seen as ‘gay,' of people being told not to be so ‘gay.' I remember its defenders claiming it didn’t mean ‘gay’ when they said it, just, y’know, ‘lame.' They didn’t realize that by using ‘gay’ and ‘lame’ as interchangeable, they neatly demonstrated their own homophobia, and the intrinsic homophobia of something being deemed ‘gay.'”

Later on in the episode Dre and Andre Jr. continue their "manly" activities by playing one on one basketball. Dre takes off his shirt, which his son then copies. Dre, with what Teeman describes as an expression of “curdling disgust, fear, apprehension, all in one delightful scowl,” quickly warns his son: “Two shirtless dudes standing around for a while starts to look a little weird.” 

Just like "gay" was meant to mean "lame" earlier, it is clear that the word "weird" is meant to mean "gay."

Rev. Irene Monroe at The Belerico Project points out that there’s been a notable lack of public or media criticism of ABC or the show’s producers over the episode:

“But Teeman's outcry isn't ginning up the public outrage that usually greets homophobic remarks by well-known actors. Rather, we're seeing an overwhelming quiet acceptance and rationalization for Pop's homophobic one-liner."

Which leads me to wonder if the outrage would be bigger if this faux pas would have happened on a predominantly white cast or a show with larger ratings?

Though these two occurrences may seem small, but as Teeman admits, it’s these small, everyday bits of homophobia that sometimes really need to be challenged—all the more so when they appear in a prominent, supposedly progressive, network sitcom.

What do you think of Teeman's argument?

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