Thursday, January 20, 2005

first tinky winky

There was a documentary film that came out in the late '90's called Dear Jesse, about former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms (he was still Senator at the time). The filmmaker, who was gay and also from North Carolina, relied on the common qualities he shared with the senator as a theme throughout the film and as a marketing tool. I remember a postcard advertising the film that read, "Jesse Helms and I have a lot in common. We're both obsessed with gay men." (Count me in on that one.)

It comes to mind today as we inaugurate President George W. Bush for a second term. Yesterday I made a post about the concern among conservatives that Bush was giving up on the amendment banning gay marriage and about the view of the leader of the Family Research Council that the issue was the "most important" for Bush to address in the next four years. Today, another social conservative is making it clear that he too has his priorities straight (how could it be any other way?). His target? SpongeBob SquarePants.

I have never watched SpongeBob SquarePants. I did think of going to see the movie (for about ten seconds) because my favorite band in the entire world (Wilco) contributed a song to the soundtrack. But I did not see the movie either. Luckily, The New York Times lets me in on what's going on.

Dr. James C. Dobson, who has proudly taken credit for re-electing President Bush and heads the conservative group Focus on the Family, wants to take SpongeBob down because Bob appears in a video that Dobson says promotes tolerance of differences, including sexual identity. SpongeBob appears in the video alongside Barney, the big gay purple dancing dinosaur, and Jimmy "I never met a cock I didn't like," Neutron.

The organization responsible for producing the video (We Are Family Foundation), created following the September 11th attacks on New York and DC, says that Dobson needs to calm the f*ck down. The video, they say, aims to do nothing more than promote multiculturalism. Any mention of tolerance toward gay men and lesbians is on the the organization's web site, but does not make an appearance in the video, which has been and continues to be distributed to elementary schools.

Anyway, in addition to appearing in the video, SpongeBob is fond of holding hands with his sidekick Patrick and regularly tunes into a fictional TV show called "The Adventures of Mermaid Man and Barnicle Boy," which I admit does sound like the opening night feature at the NAMBLA Film Festival.

Again, the whole reason I'm telling you this is because it consistently amazes me what counts a priority among social conservatives. But, come on, it's also pretty funny. A big gay sponge is freaking out a grown man who wields considerable political power in this country. A lawyer for the We Are Family Foundation might have said it best when he said Dobson and his fellows critics simply "need medication".

Or, of course, a big wet hug from a sopping sponge who just wants to hold their hand.

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