As a personal trainer, I have seen a fair amount of craziness happen at the gym. Yesterday morning, a client (not mine) brought in his puppy during his training session. Yes, a brand-new, barely 2-month-old puppy. Needless to say, this is against gym policy. When confronted about it and told it could not stay by the staff, the client proceeded to mutter four-letter words under his breath to the gym employee, which prompted me to chime in and support her. At this point, the client dropped his weights, called me a c-u-next-Tuesday, and got in my face screaming “Do you know who I am?” because he wasn’t being allowed to break the rules and keep his puppy on the weight-room floor.
While said client obviously has some issues of his own to deal with, it reminded me exactly why I am so bothered by the new Fire Island trailer release by Logo TV this week. Let me explain.
Reality television, in general, is horrible. There is very little reality involved, as we all know. I don’t blame the cast members for hustling hard to sell their product lines or gain exposure for their ventures. I blame the people who produce these shows and put the cast into predicaments that lead to crazy behavior — all in an attempt to boost ratings and make money through commercial sales. It’s exploitive and actually rather reckless. The producers are not solely to blame, though, as hundreds of thousands tune in to mindlessly watch housewives throw drinks at each other and flip over tables. We have become so desensitized to these things that we view it as entertainment, and therein lies the big issue.
I remember when the use of “bitch” on television was a national debate. Now curse words are commonplace in all forms of media. We live in a self-absorbed, instant-satisfaction world that very rarely takes into consideration how our actions may affect others. While using the word “bitch” on television may not destroy the modern world, it’s a slippery slope in how we influence others. Have you ever heard the phrase, “monkey see, monkey do”? Well, humans and monkeys learn the same way. While it is thought that some of our innate behavior may in fact be genetic, it has been proved in various case studies that learned behavior greatly influences our decisions, and often times even more so than genetic disposition.
Documenting the escapades of a bunch of gay men on Fire Island may seem harmless, but what effect could it have on gay preteens who have yet to come out? How may it influence someone's opinion of the LGBT community who has yet to actually meet a gay person in real life? Yes, the show has yet to debut, so I am making some assumptions based on the trailer and what producers care to show us. However, based on the 90-second teaser, we see screaming fights, slamming doors, gossiping, the use of the f word (although bleeped out) and an opening line simply of “cocktails, sunshine, boys.”
Now, I have to be fair in saying I uphold myself to some pretty strict standards. I don’t use the f word, I won’t be photographed holding a cocktail unless it's celebratory champagne, and I’ve never even had a speeding ticket. As a public person, I take the way people perceive me seriously, and not just because of my own self-respect, but for my respect for the LGBT community as a whole. As a minority group, the actions of a few can unfortunately shape the view of many. Giving this sort of behavior a national platform where it becomes normal and invited into our homes is the problem. By all means, live your life and have fun as long as you’re not hurting anyone else. My issue with all this, though, is that I do feel it can hurt others simply by allowing it to be so common.
Do I think I was called a four-letter word, simply because the client with the puppy saw it on a TV show and was so inspired? No, not necessarily. Do I, however, think that this sort of programming has become so normal that doing such a thing seems normal to us, since we see “real people” on “reality TV” doing it? Yes, absolutely.
My argument is simply this: In a time with so many of our rights being challenged daily, LGBT people must choose to elevate public perception of us as best as we can. We are above this sort of mindless “It doesn’t matter, it’s just a show” dialogue. It does matter. If it didn’t matter, we wouldn’t be in a position where a reality TV star is now running the United States of America. So while I will keep my fingers crossed that the show will choose more meaningful storylines and aim to make a positive impact on the world, I won’t hold my breath. In the meantime, I implore you to look at what you choose as entertainment and make better choices.