Today was the day for strange gay showbiz news: The first item from IMDB concerns Merv Griffin, whose irredemably boring talk show was my daily afterschool babysitter for years — probably aggravating, if not causing, the sense of existential malaise that has plagued me ever since:
The decision by the Hollywood Reporter and the Reuter News Agency to run an article by columnist Ray Richmond about the late Merv Griffin’s alleged homosexuality on the day of his funeral — then pull the article from their websites — then restore it — has touched off a storm of public and industry controversy. L.A. Weekly columnist Nikki Finke reported that the Richmond column was yanked after editor Elizabeth Guider was contacted by angry friends of Griffin. But David Ehrenstein, who writes a column for the popular liberal blog The Huntington Post, said that Richmond contacted him “fearful for his job” and he, in turn, called Michelangelo Signorile’s “Sirius Out Q” radio show about the censorship. Listeners to the program, Ehrenstein writes, deluged the Hollywood Reporter with demands that the article be restored. And a few hours later it was.
…and I ask you, what universe are any of these people living in wherein Merv Griffin wasn’t gay AND in which everyone in the world didn’t know he was gay, OR, if he wasn’t gay (about which I don’t actually give a shit, nor, I think, do most of us) what universe were any of these people living in wherein they actually thought that everyone in the world didn’t already figure the cat was gay and figure everyone else knew it, too.
If Merv wasn’t gay, he did a great job of seeming queer as a three dollar bill, in which case I do wish he had come out as straight, so other heterosexual beta-male pseudo-homo metrosexual pansies, among which I sometimes count myself depending on my mood, can take heart.
But no, he chose to go to his grave one of those ambiguous Hollywood closeted gays, which seems to be the fashion, contributing further — whether he was gay or straight — to our culture of homophobic sex-hating self-destruction.
I feel strongly that everyone has a right to privacy — your sexuality is your business — but I feel less and less tolerant of a Hollywood where queers naturally gravitate, only to remain closeted in the service of a career.
But wait! Sensitive Vito is here to save the day, by beating all of those gays to death with a pool cue. No, wait some more, the uppity queerazoids have stopped him!
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has won a victory against Oregon-based Rockwell Billiards, which had introduced a pool cue endorsed by The Sopranos star Joseph R. Gannascoli, who played a gay character beaten to death and sodomized with a pool cue in the TV series. The cue was advertised as “A Cue to Die For.” Following protests by GLAAD, Rockwell agreed to withdraw the product. In a statement, GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano said, “Rockwell Billiards has done the right thing by no longer selling a product that many deemed offensive and insensitive.”
As someone who suffered through every god damned episode of the useless Season 6 of The Sopranos, only to have two-thirds of the country trumpet the genius of David Chase because he’d discovered tape splice, I have to say that this is about the ONLY thing I can imagine Gannascoli doing that could be more offensive than his credulous portrayal of token homo Vito Spatafore in what might have been Season 6’s most hackneyed, bland, tedious and unimaginative storyline if the season hadn’t teemed with other hackneyed, bland, tedious and unimaginative storylines.
Did Mr. Gannascoli, whom I am tempted to presume is gay because no fag could ever do that crappy a job of playing a straight person, feel that in order to buttress his public heterosexuality, he needed to promote a product that drew attention to the way in which his queer character was offed (“punished” in left-wing bleeding-heart theory-nerd parlance)?
Probably not. He probably didn’t give a second thought as to whether selling a pool cue would reassure people he was straight. But somebody somewhere, presumably at Rockwell Billiards, thought it was a laugh riot to sell a Vito Spatafore pool cue.
I’m not big on the idea that when in movies, plays or books bad things happen to sexual minority or female characters, filmmakers and authors and actors need to be taken to task — art is art. But commerce, too, is an art, and the Vito Spatafore Sodomy-Ready Pool Cue is a big fat Ishtar, just like Season 6 of The Sopranos. Good riddance to both.
Photo by Sean Mack, modifications by the author.