“It’s like the gay Super Bowl,” said one participant in a lesbian “Coming Out” party. The much-hyped and anticipated episode of “Ellen” was the homosexual event of the year, and the media joined in the celebration. Though ratings are not yet available, the episode was carried by 224 of the 225 stations that normally feature the show.
The Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual activist group, offered a “Come Out With Ellen” party kit complete with invitations, posters, and a trivia game. According to the group, over 1,300 requests had come from party hosts in the United States and other nations, including Finland and Japan. This was to be an international experience.
The event was one of the most cynically manipulated events in the history of television. The prime-time revelation of “Ellen Morgan” as a lesbian came after weeks of media frenzy and adulation – and after actress Ellen DeGeneres proclaimed her own lesbianism. The whole event was calculated and marketed, with extensive audience testing and a full-scale public relations assault.
ABC followed the episode with a special segment of “PrimeTime Live” devoted to the cause. Ellen DeGeneres’ parents kindly shared how they had come to overcome their resistance to homosexuality and join the march. Ellen’s mother even advocated same-sex marriage. As for herself, Ellen said she would like to have children. Not the old-fashioned way, of course.
Even some liberals saw through the hype. Frank Rich of The New York Times declared, “Only in America – Disney’s America, at any rate – can the act of a TV sitcom heroine declaring her lesbianism be turned into a media epic that plays out over seven months, generating a striptease of publicity that in a simpler age would be beyond the imagination of even P. T. Barnum, if not Gypsy Rose Lee herself.”
The episode was artful in its manipulation of emotion and expectation. There was no mystery to unfold; the only question was how and how often “Ellen” would declare her new homosexual identity.
The revelation of the character’s homosexuality followed DeGeneres’ scripted “coming out” on national television and in a TIME magazine cover story. As America’s “first openly gay star,” DeGeneres has become the poster-child for lesbianism in America – a mediocre actress as lesbian superstar. ABC Entertainment president Jamie Tarses, trying to rescue “Ellen” from low ratings, said “We’re very proud. We think Ellen and the show’s staff have executed it beautifully.”
The show must be seen for what it was, an hour long sympathy cry designed to manipulate America’s sentimentalism and emotion. The writers and producers knew exactly what they were doing, and they employed a battalion of market researchers and analysts to ensure maximum impact. ABC executive Tarses was disingenuous when she lamented, “obviously this is an experiment. We’re not sociologists. We don’t know how this is going to be received.” Don’t fall for that blather – ABC would not run this “brave” program until it knew full well how it would be received.
In their “morning after” editorial, the sages of The New York Times reflected on the “rich and memorable” episode and on its star: “Artistically and personally, it took courage to do what she did.” Courage? All this talk about bravery and courage is nothing less than liberal back-slapping. It doesn’t take courage to come “out of the closet” in 1990s America – all it takes is a good public relations plan. It would take courage for ABC to bring out a prime-time series with a heroine who is a believing Christian, married and faithful to her husband, devoted and loving to her children, who contends for the Judeo-Christian ethic revealed in Holy Scripture. Don’t hold your breath.
In the late 1980s activists Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen produced a public relations manual for the homosexual movement. In After the Ball: How America Will Conquer its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the 90s, the authors called for homosexuals to put behaviors offensive to the public back in the closet and to put forth a new mainstream face on homosexuality in America. Their manifesto included a proposed social code of homosexual etiquette (“If I’m a Pederast or a Sadomasochist, I’ll keep it under wraps and out of Gay Pride marches.”) and a call for a strategy for using the media.
Television was an obvious target. As the authors instruct, “television is the most cogent medium, combining sight, sound, and motion to make new pictures so vivid that they can replace the old.” That is precisely the hope behind the episode of “Ellen.” The homosexual community wants the warm, sanitized, and carefully scripted portrayal of lesbianism seen on “Ellen” to replace the old picture of homosexuality which formerly shaped the American consciousness. The withering legacy of biblical ethics based on “Thus saith the Lord” is now replaced by the emotivist radicalism of the moral revolutionaries – “Just look at Ellen.”
Neil Postman, one of television’s most insightful critics, described TV as “the way ideas get distributed through the culture.” As he remarked, “Since television is the command center of American public life, television gives legitimacy to ideas.”
Explaining “How the Gay-Rights Movement Won,” Norman Podhoretz traces the “astonishing” success of homosexual activism. “For not so long ago,” he reflects, “and even within the most advanced sectors of the culture, it was still taken pretty much for granted that homosexuality was, quite simply, a perversion.”
The homosexual revolutionaries sought a great gain in legitimacy for their ideas through the “Ellen” crusade. ABC abused its public trust and became a sponsor of moral relativism and perversion, all masquerading as sentimental “tolerance.” And America clapped and cried.
A nation earns and deserves what it applauds. The “Ellen” event is a significant milepost on our national highway toward moral dissolution. A culture that celebrates the overturning of its own moral foundations is a culture set on social suicide. The applause track on the “Ellen” episode was the theme music of cultural collapse. America clapped as the nation’s conscience burned.
As the episode was filmed, Ellen DeGeneres wrote on her script, “Can you believe what a big deal this is? Maybe one day, it won’t be.” If she gets her way, it won’t.
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
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