First it was Jerry Falwell publicly claiming that Tinky Winky was gay; then a bunch of “pro-family” groups actually claimed that the animated movie A Shark’s Tale was encouraging kids to be transvestites; now it’s James Dobson’s turn, taking aim at Spongebob Squarepants. His spokesman says that a new video by the We Are Family Foundation, featuring about 100 cartoon characters dancing to the song We Are Family to encourage tolerance and caring for one another, is “an insidious means by which the organisation is manipulating and potentially brainwashing kids.”
Yeah, what could be more insidious than encouraging kids to be tolerant and caring? Come on, what’s next, loving their neighbor? Turning the other cheek? Why, that would be downright Christ-like and we can’t have that, can we? The video, it should be added, doesn’t even mention homosexuality, or sexuality at all. It was created after 9/11 by Nile Rodgers (a brilliant musician, songwriter and producer, by the way. He was the force behind a lot of great albums, most notably Steve Winwood’s Higher Love) to help urge people to think beyond the easy stereotypes that allow us to demonize people we see as Them and, ultimately, to do things like flying airplanes into buildings and kill innocent people. How horrible! How insidious!
As a side note, is there anything more annoying than the religious right’s appropriation of the word “family” for their political agenda? I find it quite offensive. If they’re “pro-family” while supporting laws that break up families by taking children away from gay parents or prevent gay parents from adopting kids who need a family, what does that make me? They act as though only religious conservatives have families, for crying out loud. But the truth is that they’re not pro-family, their only pro-families that look like theirs. Any other kind of family is awful and must be done away with. “Family values”, as Gore Vidal noted twenty years ago, is nothing more than a code phrase that means “get the fags”. And in service to that agenda, they’ve even got cartoon characters in their gunsights. I’ll let the We Are Family Foundation have the last word:
WAFF spokesman Mark Barondeso told the newspaper that anyone who thought the video promoted homosexuality “needs to visit their doctor and get their medication increased”.