Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News, along with its paid funny-guy Jesse Watters, have a long history of promoting ‘light-hearted’ segments within an otherwise serious-toned news program (or at least what’s meant to appear as one to the casual observer) but to most of us who regularly abstain from nightly O’Reilly viewing first met Jesse Waters last week after he got into trouble for referring to “Beyoncé voters” who “depend on government much more than married women.”
Naturally, making a comment that many people would find offensive while stereotyping a particular minority made Waters an instant conservative star online even though he’s been on the channel for quite some time.
Last night, Watters’ segment turned its focus toward the annual San Francisco Pride Celebration & Parade, where he live-trolled the parade route in downtown San Francisco in order to (it would appear) find all the most outlandishly-dressed and flamboyant of all the attendants available for filming and sudden questioning.
While sporting a light pink polo shirt with an upturned collar, Watters trolls for five minutes of what was intended to be comedy for, I would venture to guess, 60-something conservative men.
Some of his greatest hits:
- “Does it make you a bigot if you believe in traditional marriage?”
- “Can I have a straight pride parade if I wanted to?”
- “Is the gay pride parade shoving something down people’s throats?”
- “Are you sure you guys don’t like girls?” “Are you sure?”
- “I have to be honest with you, the pants look a little tight”
That last line was literally spoken to California state Senator Mark Leno directly in his face. Just moments later, cameras cut to an unidentified person in the crowd clad only in tight briefs to whom Waters inquires: “You look a little promiscuous.”
Clearly, Fox has its standards in line with regard to respecting pubic officials and offices. After all, isn’t it conservatives who always preach the patriotism and respect line?
Later, while talking about what Watters deemed “traditional marriage,” one parade goer shouted that those who would deny gay people equal rights should “keep it in your heart, keep it private, but don’t shove it down someone’s throat.”
Watters replied, “Isn’t the gay pride parade shoving something down other people’s throat?”
Then, after E! talk show host / fashion reporter Ross Mathews joked with Watters that he was ‘taking a fashion risk’ with his popped-collar polo shirt, Watters responded, “I’m taking a big risk here just talking to you, though.”
Now as we all know, even though Watters undoubtedly received some intelligent answers from, I don’t know, maybe the majority of parade goers who arrive in simple shorts and tee-shirts? I doubt that’s get a rise out of anyone in the Fox News demographic.
In fact, as a gay man I find the entire segment not just lacking in any comedic value, I find this piece quite insulting, stereotype-enforcing, and frankly bigoted in it’s undertone of what was reminiscent of local news coverage of gay events back in the late 1950’s.
I’m not just trying to unfairly poke at it or try and stretch out just anything and call it bigotry. I mean actually compare the mocking tone, choice of interviewees, questions, emphasis on stereotypes, etc. and you will see the undercurrent of homophobia that we once saw from news reports of the 50’s, 60’s, and on into the late 1980’s in some cases.
After all, imagine if this whole segment happened to be taking place at a Native-American cultural event, or a disabled person’s rights seminar, or a meeting of the NAACP?
Imagine if the same tone were simulated outside of gay people:
- “Do you wear feathers to school?” “Hey, hi-how-are-ya hi-how-are-ya?”
- “Would you support abortion just if she saw her baby was going to unable to walk?” “Do you guys really need all those parking spots up front?”
- “I heard you guys like fried foods and sweet drinks, are you partially responsible for the diabetes epidemic?” “All you guys like that, right?”
This, to me, is really yet another example of why I’m less up for a fight and more confused upon being told by a millennial or young adult that they choose to be conservative or are a republican. I strain to not begin a detailed debate on the matter unless they push it (say climate change is false or something) but I truly feel a deep sense of confusion.
How did they not grow up with television shows, books, movies, trends, fashions, events, and the like which form the building blocks of what I would call a more modern view of the world? How could they choose a social movement that contradicts all that they witnessed in their lives and all that science and experience tell us of this world?
The answers are even more clear to someone who’s argued with the young-conservative set than a vegetarian being asked where they get their protein – they’ll always, always end with “well I’m a fiscal conservative” or “I just don’t like welfare” or “I don’t like hand outs” or or or.
The truth is that even young republicans are fed up with the far-right’s view of gay marriage and more broadly gay people in general. In fact, social conservatism as a whole may be in trouble with this generation.
Notice even the subtleties of his segment – the show wove in old cuts of Mel Brook’s first directorial effort “The Producers” film from over fifty years ago with a young and panicked Gene Wilder saying to the late Zero Mostel “Max, he wearing a dress.” when he saw actor Christopher Hewlett playing an over-the-top cross dresser preparing to go to a costume party garbed as Marie Antoinette.
Who would that even resonate with? I imagine many more people would better associate the show Friends and its characters’ reactions. Hell, even Seinfeld would be more recognizable to most at this point and that’s one of the central problems with the social conservative movement: it’s aged, dying, and not self-replacing.
The segment may have lasted only about five minutes but was somehow able to disrespect a public official in a childish manner, insult the LGBT community, perpetuate long, long extinguished stereotypes, and show yet again, that Fox News is not a News channel, it’s aSenior Center blood pressure elevator.
Notice the eerily-similar tone of the two clips: