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05/16/2008

Please own your words, Ms. Fyfe

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture-17109Do you remember the other day when we pointed out how a conservative writer, Kristen Fyfe, had written a piece condemning the on-screen commitment ceremony that aired on "Brothers and Sisters." And do you remember how the primary beef we took was with the way Ms. Fyfe baselessly yet pointedly threw in a case of incest so as to liken that idea to same-sex unions? If not, here's the passage with which we took umbrage:

Entertainment TV has long been a vehicle to bring controversial cultural topics into the living rooms of American families: Maude's abortion aired in 1972 before Roe v. Wade entered the cultural lexicon, Murphy Brown opted to have a baby out of wedlock, and homosexuality came into homes weekly via Will and Grace. Weddings – or commitment ceremonies – for gay main characters are the next step. Which almost makes the kiss shared between two male characters, one a soldier, on Thursday's Grey's Anatomy (another ABC series) no big deal.

Maybe "Brothers and Sisters" is the theme of the week for ABC. Earlier this week, on the news side of programming, the network's Good Morning America showcased a story on incest and the "taboo" love that a half-brother and sister share. (For more on that story, click here.) Edgy, non-traditional relationships and sexuality seem to be in the air at ABC these days. GMA has recently dealt with transgenderism, a pregnant "man," and the "gay gene."

Okay, so it's pretty obvious that the incset thing is in there for a reason, right? Yea, well, in an email exchange we've shared with Ms. Fyfe, she completely denies that she had any agenda whatsoever in throwing the literal brother-sister love into the mix. For her, it was merely a play on words. She says to us:

Mr. Hooper,
Your sensitivity to the issues you hold dear cloud your vision as much as you accuse me in your post below of having mine clouded. I was not drawing parallels between the commitment ceremony and the incest story. I made a play on “brothers and sisters.” You accuse social conservatives – and me -- through your own lens of fear and prejudice. My article was a media critique of ABC. And whether you want to admit it or not same-sex unions ARE in the current culture something that is “outside the norm.” You only have to look at the states around the country whose VOTERS have chosen to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

I apologize for any offense I caused you.
...
I can only assure you that I was not intentionally linking homosexuality/same-sex unions and incest in any further way past the word play.
...
The broader point of the article was commenting on the trend at ABC over the past several weeks to air stories (news) and story lines (entertainment) dealing with “non-traditional” issues of sexuality. Media impacts culture and it is my job to look at how that happens.

So wait a second -- if the point of her piece had been to congratulate the show for something "pro-family" that she perceived within an episode, she still would have made this play on words? OF COURSE NOT! And it's absolutely absurd to suggest that she was guided only by the title to engage in some wordplay and not by the episode's themes to engage in some unfair logic-leaping. Her mind should not even make the connection. And in saying this, we're not being guided by our "sensitivity to the issues" or "own lens of fear and prejudice." We're being guided by what Ms. Fyfe realistically put on the page.

Look, we write about these sorts of things all the time. If we are writing a piece on something anti-gay that aired on "The 700 Club," are we going to throw in a discussion of a strip joint that may shares the show's name simply because the potential wordplay is too compelling for us to resist? No! And Ms. Fyfe didn't throw in this little quip simply because her creative impulses got the best of her. She clearly wanted to present an umbrella of "edgy, non-traditional relationships" under which both brothers and sisters schtupping and the "Brothers and Sisters" wedding commitment event share a home. It's extremely disingenuous of her to try and wash her hands of the very disturbing linkage that she quite deliberately put out in to the public spectrum.

*Fyfe's original piece: ABC’s Mother’s Day Gift to Viewers: A Same-Sex ‘Wedding’ [CMI]

*Our reaction to it: Oh brother: Conserv uses convenient title to make asinine connection [G-A-Y]

**It should be noted that like man members of our opposition, Ms. Fyfe has been extremely cordial. We don't wish to "attack" her personally in any way. But we have a duty to strongly speak out against the grossly unfair missteps that we perceive within her work.

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Your thoughts

I do not watch the show, but did watch the video of the ceremony... so I do not know the actual characters. But I got the impression the the woman 'officiating' was a 'sister' and that she described marrying her brother 'jokingly' when they were children. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I think anyone watching that one clip only would ge the same impression.
I was a bit shocked. I happen to know of real incestuous Br/Sis couples and it is a mess let me tell you. They seemed to lay it right out there as a huge opening for opponents to hit and they have.

Posted by: LOrion | May 16, 2008 11:15:06 AM

LOrion: But what does that have to do with the matter at hand? Ms. Fyfe isn't referring to the silly little story that Calista Flockhart's character tells. She's comparing Kevin and Scotty's union with that of a real life borther/sister couple (who, I've heard, has actually been proven to not be related).

Posted by: G-A-Y | May 16, 2008 11:25:00 AM

Well, Ms. Fyfe seems to want it both ways. She wants to use a play on words but according to her claim without thinking that might cause the reader to make an association.

So she either did on purpose or she did it because she is a sloppy writer. Either way, own your work, Ms. Fyfe.

Posted by: Ed | May 16, 2008 11:26:03 AM

I was taken out of context! How unusual to hear that from a conservative. At least Ms. Fyfe uses 4 paragraphs and includes an apology. That's more than we hear from Glenn Beck or Pastor Hagee.

Posted by: Larry | May 16, 2008 2:21:27 PM

“Media impacts culture and it is my job to look at how that happens.”

What a crock! Her job is to take something relatively innocuous and take it to the deepest pit of iniquity that she knows (I am assuming that for her it is only a theoretical knowledge – but you never know.)

I am sure that during that week she could have detailed several opposite-sex incidents in media that she could have been equally appalled by that would have been a lot closer to incest than the gay-boys getting married was. Not to mention the religious sects with their polygamy and statutory rape . . . and don’t even get me started on the fathers with their daughters.

And in all of those other cases, incest would have been a natural fit (if not a perfect description.) But she didn’t – she wanted to blast the gay-boys and ignore anything that might in some way resemble her pairing (again, I’m assuming that she hasn’t had any incestuous relationships – but you never know.)

Posted by: Dick Mills | May 16, 2008 5:40:24 PM

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