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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Debra Messing

Happy 42nd Birthday to Debra Messing. Messing was one of the stars of the landmark hit t.v. show, "Will and Grace", for which she won an Emmy in 2003. Next up for Miss Messing is "Wright Vs. Wrong", an ABC sitcom about Messing as a (Sarah Palin-like?) conservative commentator. The comedy was supposed to debut in the fall, but according to industry insiders, ABC has ordered a new pilot for the show, which means a mid-season debut at best.
When "Will and Grace" finally disappeared from our t.v. screens, we were left with definite mixed feelings about the show. On one hand, we were thrilled that the show introduced us to that very rare commodity, a Lucille Ball-like comedic actress who is beautiful to look at but is also blessed with truly great comedic timing and delivery, and even a talent for physical comedy. Debra Messing is really beautiful, and really funny. But on the other hand, the popularity of the show, "Will and Grace" itself leaves us with a bittersweet feeling. While we were happy that the t.v. show was the first time that mainstream America was shown that gay people are just as normal as anyone else, and was therefore hugely important in the evolution of the acceptance of gay people, it was that very mainstream popularity which robbed the gay community of something special.
For decades, to be gay was to be in a "secret society", and despite the horrific consequences which comes from hiding in society, there was also something very cool about belonging to that secret club. When you and your friends know something that no one else knows, there is a winking humor that arises from that secrecy. The fact that the gay community couldn't be open in society is what gave rise to camp and double entendres, and not that we want to go back to the days of the police raiding gay bars and bashing our heads, on the other hand, having to quickly slip into a gay bar at night with a big, blacked-out window in front to hide the identities of the crowd inside was something akin to participating in something dangerously fun and thrilling. Nowadays, when our grandmothers and straight male friends are even more comfortable in gay bars than we, well, we're sorry, but all the fun of being gay has been sucked out of being gay. And that's the sad legacy of "Will and Grace"; while the show was hugely important in the social acceptance of gays, it also replaced that blacked-out window gay bar with a big, clear, see-through plate-glass window bar where "everyone knows your name". "Will and Grace" turned all of our gay bars into "Cheers", an innocuous, tame and even boring way to socialize.
A lot of younger gay men will probably have no idea what we're talking about. To them, the "Will and Grace-ification of America" has no meaning, they don't remember a time in which being gay and going to a gay bar wasn't something more accepted, even boring in its normality. When being gay is a mainstream hit on t.v., being gay has lost all of its thrill. But don't get us wrong, there is no way we want to return to those days of being beaten, spat upon and forced to hide to protect our jobs and our very lives, but on the other hand, did "Will and Grace" really have to take away all of our fun and give away all of our secrets?

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