|Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot|
You may have missed it over the weekend, but "Saturday Night Live" aired a skit that showed men taking hormone supplements to grow breasts and change genders. The sketch was for a mock prescription drug called "Estro-Maxxx," and the fake commercial attempts to make lighthearted jabs at transgendered people by showing men with breasts. The punchline? Transgendered people are funny to look at -- or so one would think from the video:
In timely fashion, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), responded:
This segment cannot be defended as "just a joke" because there was no "joke" to speak of. The attempted comedy of the skit hinges solely on degrading the lives and experiences of transgender women. Holding people up for ridicule simply on the basis of their identity fuels a hurtful climate and puts people in danger, especially given how infrequently the media shines a fair and accurate light on the lives of transgender people. "The violence, discrimination and harassment that transgender Americans experience each and every day is no laughing matter," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "Saturday Night Live is a touchstone of American comedy, but Saturday's unfunny skit sends a destructive and dehumanizing message."
When I watched the short piece, I was struck not just by the offensive nature as it relates to transgendered people -- which is immense -- but how offensive it was to women in general. The idea of watching men dress in drag for a laugh is as old as the hills; old as Shakespeare, but seeing it done today just doesn't seem to carry the same innocence as the days of Some Like It Hot. Perhaps it was the close-up shots of a supposedly transgendered lady's rear end, or perhaps it was the scenes of the "trans" women sitting around a living room and giggling over Cosmos and red wine, but the gender stereotyping seemed offensive to me. It seemed to reduce the female experience to the importance of having nice curves, being coy and girlish, and sitting around getting silly over too many cocktails and cheese plates.
It's true that it's only comedy and can't be taken too seriously, but people within the LGBT community are not laughing. And in this case, the real joke seems to be on SNL and their apparent willingness to exploit antiquated gender stereotypes in a desperate attempt at humor.