Comedian Billy Crystal, who played one of the first gay characters on television, now says some of the LGBT content on TV goes too far.
“I’ve seen some stuff recently on TV in different kinds of shows where the language or the explicit sex is really — you know, sometimes I get it, and sometimes ... I think, Ah, that’s too much for me,” Crystal said at a Television Critics Association presentation in Pasadena, Calif., Sunday, several media outlets report. “Sometimes, it’s just pushing it a little too far for my taste and I’m not going to reveal to you which ones they are. I hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face — well, that sounds terrible — to the point where it feels like an everyday kind of thing.”
Crystal, who was promoting his new situation comedy The Comedians, addressed his experience playing gay character Jodie Dallas on the late-1970s sitcom Soap. “It was awkward,” he said. “I would say ‘I love you’ [to the actor playing his partner] and the audience would laugh nervously. I’d feel this anger. I wanted to stop the taping and say, ‘What is your problem?’”
The veteran comic actor, who has enjoyed popularity as a host of the Academy Awards, has long been considered LGBT-friendly. He even received GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award in 2005, which recognized a body of work that included not only his gay portrayal in Soap but his autobiographical one-man stage show 700 Sundays. In that show, GLAAD officials said in 2005, “Billy brings to life his Aunt Sheila as she tells the touching story of her lesbian daughter’s San Francisco wedding and her husband’s struggle to accept their child.”
Crystal’s latest remarks led to angry reaction on Twitter, with tweets that ranged from decrying his “subtle bigotry” to calling him “a complete and utter homophobic tool.” See those below, and then see an update in which Crystal addressed his comments further.
— psychedelicatessen (@MentalRiot) January 19, 2015
#BillyCrystal - What a complete and utter homophobic tool.
— Kay Dekker (@kay_way) January 19, 2015
Hey @BillyCrystal...I hope your shitty new show isn't "shoved in our face like an everyday thing" you ignorant homophobe.
— Brent (@BasicallyBrentt) January 19, 2015
In an interview with Xfinity’s TV blog after the presentation for the TV critics, Crystal said he didn't see why his comments should offend anyone. “I don’t understand why there would be anything offensive that I said,” he told Xfinity’s Jim Halternma. “When it gets too far either visually … now, that world exists because it does for the hetero world, it exists, and I don’t want to see that either. But when I feel it’s a cause, when I feel it’s ‘You’re going to like my lifestyle,’ no matter what it is, I’m going to have a problem and there were a couple of shows I went ‘I couldn’t watch that with somebody else.’ That’s fine. If whoever writes it or produces it … totally get it. It’s all about personal taste.”
He added, “We live in a very scary time in many ways. You can’t say this, you can’t say that, you can’t offend this group, that group. People come up to you and ask if you were offended. I don’t understand that.” He also defended himself as “a heterosexual man but stood up for the gay community back in 1977” but said “as a parent and grandparent and a father, I have responsibilities to other people.” Read the full Xfinity post here.