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Did Universal Studios Hollywood over-react when it cancelled the remaining "Bill & Ted" shows for this year's Halloween Horror Nights?

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Did Universal Studios Hollywood over-react when it cancelled the remaining "Bill & Ted" shows for this year's Halloween Horror Nights?

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Here's a tricky question for all you theme park fans out there.

Copyright NBCUniversal. All rights reserved

If you buy a ticket for an after-hours, hard ticket event like Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights -- which states right on the brochure that you're handed as you come through the turnstiles that " ... this event is recommended for mature audiences only"  ...

Copyright NBCUniversal. All rights reserved

... and that " ... additional warnings and restrictions are posted at each maze and attraction" --

Copyright NBCUniversal. All rights reserved

... and you then queue up for a stage show like "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure," where a pre-show video repeatedly warns you that the presentation you're about to experience parodies movies, TV shows & pop culture and contains graphic violence, crude humor and sexual situations ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... With that many warnings, are you then allowed to say that you were offended by this show? Particularly if the pre-show announcement suggests that if you're someone who's easily offended, you should then probably leave this venue before the show actually gets underway?

(L to R) Bill & Ted, Michael Jackson & Justin Bieber, and the Wicked Witch of
the West & Kim Jong-un. Photo by Jim Hill

Look, I'm not here to argue whether the Superman bit in this year's "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" was homophobic or not. But what I would like to talk about here is personal responsibility.

(L to R) Tonto, a shirtless Superman, Bill & Ted, Glinda the Good Witch
and Gandalf the White. Photo by Jim Hill

And if I'm an adult who's queuing up for a show where there are numerous warnings which clearly say that " ... this show is for mature audiences only" and that it " ... may contain language & events that may be offensive to some," I'm going to assume -- as a thinking, reasoning adult who can actually process information as it's presented to me -- that the show which I'm about to see will be fairly adult in nature.

Photo by Jim Hill

And if that show doesn't sound like something I want to see ... Well, I have two feet. More importantly, free will. And if I really feel like it, I can just get out of line for a show like "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" and then go see something else.

Miley Cyrus and Kim Jong-un after the Supreme Leader of North Korea
shoots the former "Hannah Montana" star after she reprises her awful
performance from the VMAs. Photo by Jim Hill

Speaking of which ... Unlike so many of the other people out there online who have condemned "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure," I actually got to see the 2013 edition of this show when I experienced the Hollywood version of Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights back on September 27th.

Bill & Ted look on as Wreck-It Ralph takes out those two wicked wenches, Nicki Nimaj
and Amanda Bynes. Photo by Jim Hill

And look, I'm not going to pretend that this theme park show was the height of subtlety & sophistication. I mean, the climax of the 2013 edition of "Bill & Ted" (which riffed on the storyline of "The Wizard of Oz ") came when Brian (i.e., the talking dog character from Fox's "Family Guy") killed the Wicked Witch of the West by peeing on her. That's hardly what anyone could call sophisticated fare.

"I'm melting, I'm melting ... " Photo by Jim Hill

But what I can tell you is that this year's "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" was energetically & enthusiastically performed by a talented group of young people ...

Photo by Jim Hill

... who -- because a handful of members from the online community reacted strongly to a video clip that was taken out of context from this live stage show (which -- let's remember -- featured all sorts of warnings on site about how "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" was for mature audiences and featured crude humor & sexual situations. Which is why this show -- which parodies movies, TV shows and pop culture -- wasn't for the easily offended) -- are now out of work.

Photo by Jim Hill

Look, I know that NBCUniversal doesn't want to be seen as being insensitive to the gay community. Which is why " ... After thoughtful consideration, Universal Studios Hollywood has made the decision to discontinue production of the Halloween Horror Nights' 'Bill & Ted' show for the remainder of its limited run."

Photo by Jim Hill

But the audience that I saw this show with clearly got that "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" was an equal opportunity offender. Which is why they laughed loud & long as this year's edition of that show made fun of homosexuals & pompous celebrities & bad movies & ruthless world leaders. "Bill & Ted" went after a wide array of topics. It wasn't just one single group of people with a specific sexual preference who then got singled out to be the target of this year's show.

Copyright Cedar Fair Entertainment. All rights reserved

But you know what I worry about the most? The chilling effect that may now happen at other theme parks as a direct result of Universal Studios Hollywood's decision to cancel "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" for the remaining nights for Halloween Horror Nights 2013 (which are October 24-27, October 31, and November 1-2).

I mean, are the people at Knott's now going to have to be more circumspect about the sorts of pop culture gags that they allow to be presented at that Scary Farm tradition, the Hanging?

You know what's really ironic about all this? The 2013 edition of The Hanging actually includes a bit about how gay Universal's "Bill & Ted's Excellent Hollywood Adventure" can sometimes get. It started with the Wicked Witch of the West (Yes -- just like this year's "Bill & Ted" -- this year's Hanging also riffs on "The Wizard of Oz") taunts the Sheriff of Calico Square by saying ...

WICKED WITCH: What will become of your precious posse when I turn them into zombies? Zombies. Sleep, sleep.

The Wicked Witch then turns waves her hand. The citizens of Calico Square all fall to the ground and then slowly rise as hungry, halting, stumbling zombies. Who then lurch towards the sheriff up on his gallows.

ZOMBIES: Must eat brains.

Just as quickly, the zombies now turn to the stage right exit.

ZOMBIES: Must get to job at Universal.

SHERIFF: (Calling after the zombies as they exit) Are you working the Walking Dead maze?

ZOMBIES: No. Writing Bill & Ted show. Not gay enough.

SHERIFF: (Turning to audience now) Wow. We got that joke out of the way pretty early this year.

As someone who grew up in the late 1950s / early 1960s and then applauded when people like Lenny Bruce & George Carlin fought long & hard for the right to perform sometimes crude & offensive comical material in front of adult audience, it would really bother me if the politically correct -- as part of some well-meaning effort to protect the feelings of the greater gay community -- inadvertently wound up taking the edge off of two Halloween traditions that Southern California theme park fans have really come to love over the years, "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" at Universal Studios Hollywood & The Hanging at Knott's Scary Farm.

Copyright Cedar Fair Entertainment. All rights reserved

But what do you folks think? Did Universal do the right thing when it pulled the plug on the remaining "Bill & Ted" shows for this year? Am I the one who's now over-reacting?

Your thoughts?

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  • I have no idea whether the show was homophobic and should have been cancelled or not.  But it's really interesting to read some of the responses on the internet.  You can give out whatever disclaimers and warnings you want, but that doesn't give you carte blanche to do whatever you like.  Would it be OK to make fun of people in wheelchairs, as long as it was in the context of an 'adult' event?  If they held a Ku Klux Klan rally, but recited a disclaimer beforehand saying that some people would find it offensive, would that be OK?  Extreme examples of course, but hopefully you see my point.

    You imply that people who are capable of being offended should not have watched the show - as if it was a binary situation (someone is either offended by EVERYTHING - and so should not watch the show, or NOTHING will offend them).  In reality it is a spectrum, and everyone has their own line of what is offensive and not offensive (which sometimes can only be discovered by BEING offended).  I would be worried by people who could NEVER be offended by anything.  Reading your descriptions of the warnings, I might expect humor mocking people in power, or those who seek attention and fame, and I would expect adult language, sexual situations and toilet humor. But I wouldn't necessarily expect making fun of gay people for the sake of it (and you list gay people in the same group as "pompous celebrities & bad movies & ruthless world leaders").  I don't think that there is any place in a theme park (or really any business for that matter) for jokes about a person's sexuality.  Just because some people did not take offense doesn't mean that it is OK.

    Again, I am not saying whether Universal were right or wrong, as I haven't seen the show.  I'm not making any judgement on Universal; I am commenting on the article itself.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Look, John. We're not talking about hate speech (Which is why -- me personally -- your Klu Klux Klan reference was out of line) or gay bashing. We're talking about a theme park show that's been presented for a number of years now as part of the Halloween Horror Nights entertainment package. And given that HHN is this pretty intense event with lots of in-your-face scares & shocks ... Well, that's why Universal has (up until now, anyway) felt that they can present some pretty edgy, mean-spirited humor at this after-hours events "Bill & Ted" show.

    As I understand it, as long as the writers of this stage show took an even-handed approach to "Bill & Ted" (As in: They went after a wide variety of targets. Not a single person, group or event. But also Movies, TV shows and pop culture figures, etc.), then they were allowed to present a pretty rough show. Mind you, there'd always be trims & rewrites after the first weekend because Universal management would come & watch the show and if any one bit was deemed to be a little too raunchy and/or a little too offensive, it then got cut from the show.

    As for the Superman / fairy dust bit (Which -- I'll grant you -- wasn't really all that funny.
    "Bill & Ted" 's writers took a woefully out-of-date gay stereotype and then tried to use that comedy cliche in a way that would then allow them to make fun of a summer blockbuster that was thought by people in the industry to have been way too violent as well as having had under-performed at the box office). If you watch that gag / this performance out-of-context ... Yes, I'll admit it's incredibly offensive.

    But if you watch the entire 2013 edition of "Bil & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" (Or the 2012 edition. Or the 2011 edition. Or the 2010 edition. You picking up on the pattern yet?), you'd see that this HHN stage show was offensive to all races, creeds and colors. That the writers of this show went after all sorts of folks -- gays & straights, Democrats & Republicans, etc. -- in an attempt to send up that year in pop culture.

    And let me be perfectly honest here: After having seen this year's version of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" for myself on September 27th, I walked out the old Conan the Barbarian show theater thinking that Universal was going to get some letters about this one. Not because of the gay Superman joke (which I just shrugged off because it was a lazy easy joke that -- me personally -- I didn't consider to be all that funny), but because all of the violence to women in this edition of the show. I mean, over the course of this 25 minute-long review, we had Miley Cyrus shot, Nicki Minaj & Amanda Bynes punched by Wreck-It Ralph, Paula Deen pummeled by Django & Dr. Schultz, and the Wicked Witch of the West peed on by Brian the Dog from "Family Guy." The attacks on women came so fast & were so frequent in this show, I thought for sure that some thin-skinned feminist was gonna go after the 2013 version of "Bill & Ted." Well, imagine my surprise when it was someone from the gay community who opted to go after this HHN show and then succeeded in getting it shut down.

    Anyway ... Look, John. In the next day or so, the 2013 edition of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" will undoubtedly pop up online somewhere. Most likely on YouTube. Do yourself a favor. Rather than watching that Superman / fairy dust clip out of context, watch the entire show. It is then you'll see that "Bill & Ted" really is an equal opportunity offender. That this show wasn't just targeting gays. It was taking more of a Mad magazine approach and attacking EVERYBODY and EVERYTHING.

    In closing, you wrote earlier about how wrong it would be if someone made fun of a person in a wheelchair. Well, if that really is the case, then how does "The Big Bang Theory" -- the No. 1 comedy on television -- regularly get away with making fun of Stephen Hawking? And the answer is ... context. Within the framework of that show, making fun of someone with motor neurone disease is okay is okay because of the context that Chuck Lorre and the writers of "Big Bang" have created. Were you to watch those clips where Sheldon & friends made fun of the author of "A Brief History of Time" all by themselves, rather than as part of the show that these bits had been written for, I'd imagine that these gags would come across (especially to the differently abled) as being just as offensive as that Superman / fairy dust bit was to the gay community.

    That's all I'm trying to say here, John. That -- out-of-context -- this Superman bit seems so much more offensive than it actually was as part of this show as a whole. Which -- as I keep trying to point out -- went after all sorts of targets, not just gay stereotypes.

  • Sorry, Jim, but you're going out of your way to defend something that isn't really defensible. There's a difference between crude humor and degrading humor, and you can't erase that line no matter how hard you try. It's a problem of perspective, which you—and I say this as someone who really enjoys your work—seem to lack in this case.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Have you actually seen a "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" show? Either the Universal Hollywood or Orlando edition? If so, then you know that this show historically has been edgy & offensive (i.e., the type of stage show that it's thought will appeal to those sorts of folks who get their jollies by going through the scare-and-gore-filled mazes that Universal stages at its Halloween Horror Nights). More importantly, that "Bill & Ted" has always been an equal opportunity offender.

    So because of the reaction that this out-of-context clip has received online, does that now mean that NBCUniversal turns to the folks who run HHN and then says "No more 'Bill & Ted" ? Or worse than that "Okay, you can still do 'Bill & Ted.' But the show can't have anything in that could possibly offends the gay community." Given that people have different senses of humor and what may be hilarious to you may be horribly offensive to me ... That seems like kind of a slippery slope to me.

    Again, as I keep saying here, while I understand that the clip of Superman that's online now is seen as being incredibly offensive to the gay community, in context -- as an element of the ENTIRE "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" show as a whole (where it quickly comes apparent that this show goes after everyone -- no matter what their race, creed or sexual orientation may be) -- it's not as offensive.

    Though, that said, given that Universal was looking to make fun of "Man of Steel" (i.e. this summer's Superman movie), I just wish the writers of "Bill & Ted" had been more ambitious. That they'd have made better use of this subject of spoofery, rather than settling for an easy / lazy joke that makes use of a gay stereotype that was old & tired when sitcom writers used to use it back in the 1960s.

  • Couldn't that one joke be removed?

    EDITOR'S NOTE: It wasn't just one joke. The Superman-as-a-gay-character started right after Bill & Ted's arrival in Oz, continued through a section of the show which made fun of "Star Trek: Into Darkness" and then basically ended as "Bill & Ted" made fun of "Man of Steel" 's over-the-top battle scenes between Superman & General Zod, To cut out the Superman portion  would have meant that 10 minutes of this pre-recorded, tightly choreographed 25 minute-long show would have have to been restaged & re-recorded. And at this point in the run of HHN, that was kind of a deal breaker. Which is why Universal Hollywood -- rather than continue to deal with all the bad publicity and/or shoulder the additional expense of restaging this year's "Bill & Ted" -- just opted instead to shut down this show.

  • I wish someone would have warned me before I saw "Light Magic".  Now, I can't unsee it

  • Here's the thing, homosexuals are continually being beaten, mentally and physically, on a daily basis in this country and around the world (Have you seen what's going on in Russia?) It's those who take a stand and say "enough" that have brought about change in attitudes throughout this country. And yes, it does get better. I hope for the day when we can roll our eyes and move on from yet another "sissy" joke, but not today. Not yet. The wounds are still fresh and the scabs have not healed (see what I did there, Halloween and all?).

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Look, Craig. Everything that you've said above is true. And you're right. What Universal presented in this year's "Bill & Ted" show was a lazy, easy "sissy" joke. But is a theme park show that has historically, deliberately been offensive when it comes to pop culture figures of all races, creeds and sexual persuasions really the best thing to try and build an "It Gets Better" teachable moment around?

  • Personally, I'm not a fan of mean spirited humor.  Even Don Rickles left me cold, most of the time, and his delivery is light years better than anyone trying to pull it off today.  That being said, I think we are walking down a VERY dangerous path of allowing the loudest person in the room to decide what is right and wrong.  

    I haven't seen the show, but I would be willing to bet that, if you polled the thousands of people who have, only a handful would be so bothered by any one of the jokes enough to think it was worth shutting down the show.  We need to stop bowing down to the people who believe that every time something hurts their overly sensitive feelings they deserve recompense.  I agree that the homosexual community has to put up with some bad stuff... but so does every other minority group, as well as several majority groups.  Until everyone learns to shrug off harmless jabs instead of crying wolf every time someone who has bad comic sensibilities tries to make a joke, or every time someone who disagrees with them states their disagreement, we are going to continue to live in a world where everyone is pissed off most of the time and, let's face it, that sucks.  I look forward to the day when the majority of the homosexual community learns to laugh at themselves.  Then they will finally be equal.

  • Jim, I have to respectfully disagree with your sentiment. I truly believe there is never a bad time to build an "It gets better learning moment". Not when you've been through what I and millions of others have. If you disagree, so be it. You refer to "pop culture figures" as being the ones who are the targets of the deliberately offensive jokes, which is fine! They are pop culture figures, they can defend themselves as individuals. Your Stephen Hawking reference earlier doesn't hold water because not only is he the sole target of the joke, he is also in on it and approves of it. If they wanted to make fun of Neil Patrick Harris and use gay jokes it would be a different story. Look at the work of Lisa Lampanelli, she is incredibly offensive to the gay community, and we love her! Why? Because we are in on the joke. The jokes are intended for us. The jokes that Universal make here are not intended for the gay community, they are intended for the hopefully small portion of the straight community that enjoys laughing at gays and making them feel 'less than'.

    Jim, I've been a big fan of yours for years, and I understand the point you are trying to make. I'm just trying to use this as a teachable moment. There was a time when racist jokes were de rigueur until the black community took a stand and said, "enough". This is what we are doing now. Taking a stand, dispensing with our own 'self loathing', and speaking out is exactly how it gets better. I hope you understand that it doesn't matter what the venue is and it doesn't matter if a person was there watching the show live or not. It's out there for the world to see and it's ugly.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Again, Craig, everything that you've say is valid. So I'm not going to dispute that. And just to be clear here, though: My earlier Stephen Hawking reference was about things being taken out-of-context. Yes, it's great that Hawking has made appearances on "The Big Bang Theory." More importantly, that he's in on the joke. But were you to pull those Stephen Hawking-related jokes out of "Big Bang" and then show them to someone else out-of-context and then not make this person aware that Hawking was actually in on the gag, that material would come across as insensitive & hurtful.

    And -- again -- I get your point of the gay community trying to make a stand here. But did you see that statement from GLAAD about how they're now looking forward to working with NBCUniversal to make sure that all future "Bill & Ted" shows are free of this sort of material? Doesn't that strike you as overkill that GLAAD's now going to start reviewing scripts of theme park Halloween shows just to make sure that there's no material in these shows that would possibly upset the gay community? If I were the guys who were / are writing The Hanging for Knott's Scary Farm, hearing about GLAAD's new hands-on role in regards to the "Bill & Ted" show would sure scare the crap out of me.

    Again, I know. From your side of the street, this is all above saying "Enough" and making sure that that increasingly small portion of the straight community which thinks that it's still okay to make "sissy" jokes gets the message. But please let's not over-reach here and let the PC powers-that-be (which -- let's be honest here -- tend to be a pretty humorless bunch) decide for the rest of us what's acceptable to laugh at.

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts- I feel Universal DID over react and the writer or the negative post should have left the show. She was warned how many times? She also claims she had no idea the show would get cancelled with cast and crew being laid off early.

    If you can't handle the warnings leave, you are not required to see it. Also, those who feel GAYS are being "BEATEN"...get a grip on reality, everyone and all types were made fun of in that show. They make fun of everything and everyone.

    Thank you again for discussing this Jim.

  • Honestly, I completely agree with you. I think Universal's reaction was ridiculous and hearing buzz from coworkers here at Universal Orlando about B&T not coming back next year is ridiculous. Why would we even have to consider that? I don't feel like cancelling the show helped the situation. Maybe editing the show? But people's reactions on the internet were blown out of proportion, and Uni cancelling the show for the remainder of the season didn't help the cause. I'm an actor and work in entertainment here in Orlando, and I happen to be gay. I don't fit the silly stereotype that is placed on us, and I know that. So I can laugh it. But no, it's not right to make fun of gays for no reason.. that was poor writing. But I felt like the people that wrote the articles I read online attacking the show had never seen it. Can't we just laugh at ourselves as a community?

  • I can't help calling you on this one:

    "But is a theme park show that has historically, deliberately been offensive when it comes to pop culture figures of all races, creeds and sexual persuasions really the best thing to try and build an 'It Gets Better' teachable moment around?"

    Really? Universal is known for being offensive to all races? So if Superman comes out in blackface at the end and says "I'ma git me some supah watahmelons!" that's just Universal being its good old rascally self, havin' some fun? That's garbage, and I can't help thinking that a part of you knows it.

    You're defending an indefensible position here, Jim. You—as far as I know—are not gay. That puts you in no position to tell gay men and women what they can and can't find offensive. I understand the pushback against excessive political correctness, but "I'm a mincing gay man" just isn't an acceptable punchline anymore. It belongs in the same grave as Micky Rooney's performance in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: "I'ma git me some supah watermelons" ? Really?

    Look, again, this is a deliberately edgy theme park show that makes fun of what just happened in pop culture over the six months or so. Don't believe me? Go over to YouTube and watch the Universal Hollywood versions of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure" for 2012, 2011, 2010 & 2009. And if you'll actually watch these, JeffK, you'll then seen that HHN show does really go after all targets. That no one / nothing is sacred.

    And yeah. I get it. "I'm a mincing gay man" isn't an acceptable punchline anymore. And as I keep saying in this talkback section, the Superman / fairy dust gag was lazy writing. The "Bill & Ted" writers didn't even find a fun way to put a somewhat different spin on that cliche. But that said, I'm still concerned about what the theme park industry-wide blowback from Universal's decision to cancel this HHN show in mid-season will be. Does this now mean that we're going to get toothless pop culture satire at "Bill & Ted" and Knott's The Hanging because if they can't make fun of the gay community ... Well, then they'd better play it safe and then not make fun of anyone.

  • I'm completely with you on this one Jim. Although I'm surprised you haven't caught on yet that in the present era, there is NO excuse for making fun of something that offends a privileged minority. The warning signs you show carry the implication there will be sex and violence and gore, not jokes that 5 years ago would have been considered funny by everybody but now are more taboo than a sex show at Disneyland in 1957.

  • Don't you see, though?

    "And yeah. I get it. 'I'm a mincing gay man' isn't an acceptable punchline anymore." And then you go right back to defending it! Replace that with any other historically persecuted minority—blacks, Jews, you name it—and try calling it PC overreach.

    As for the prior commenter, it's no surprise that one of the few voices joining you here is someone who considers gays a "privileged minority." The company you keep....

    EDITOR'S NOTE: And I think that you're not seeing what I'm trying to say either. That a show got shut down in the middle of its run and a lot of actors & technicians got thrown out of work because the Web over-reacted to a clip that was taken out of context from a show that is always deliberately offensive. Where everyone & everything is made fun of.

    Look, we both basically agree here, JeffK. Homophobia is bad. Likewise people making "sissy" jokes. But why is it okay for "Bill & Ted" to make fun of celebrities like Amanda Bynes (who has clearly had some mental health issues recently) and yet now be expected to censor any future gay-related humor? Because that's what GLAAD seems to think is going to happen from here on in. That because this organization has " ... started a productive dialogue around future 'Bill & Ted' programming  to ensure that all park visitors can have an enjoyable experience,"  GLAAD representatives now seem to expect that they'll get the chance to review the scripts for any future "Bill & Ted" scripts and then -- if necessary -- get the chance to spike any & all gags that they deem might be offensive to the gay community.

    That's at least how I'm interpreting that GLAAD statement about "Bill & Ted." So would it be okay with you if woman's rights group or movie studios or individual performer's publicists also got to weigh in on future "Bill & Ted" scripts and then remove any gags and/or bits of business that they deemed to be offensive. Isn't the point of a theme park show like this -- which is NOT for the general public, but only for those who purchased entrance to a hard ticket event like Halloween Horror Nights,  a group of people who clearly like a little edge & controversy with their entertainment -- to be edgy & controversial with its humor choices?

  • Jim, it's mostly a matter of tone and intent. You balked at my obviously nasty "watermelon" racial comparison earlier, but it's the same thing: making a minority the butt of a joke. It's entirely at their expense, and that's the problem—and I don't think that's what you're trying to defend, even though you inadvertently seem to be doing just that.

    Did you see the most recent live episode of SNL? Jon Hamm came out in blackface during a fake old-timey commercial and did and said the most amazingly offensive things, but the humor was all doubling back on itself. The laughs came from the fact that he was doing this minstrel act right next to Keenan Thompson, who was getting increasingly angry. As the stakes increased, Keenan got more furious, and it got funnier.

    That's a way you can do this sort of humor correctly. Where's the gay character here who's in on the joke? Nowhere! The punch line is basically "Look at this silly homo. Aren't they silly?" It's mean. Do I want GLAAD to have final approval over jokes? Of course not. Do I want smarter people running Universal so that this isn't an issue in the first place? Yep!

    You're straddling a weird line here with your arguments. I get the point you're making, but you're making it in a way that repeatedly diminishes what this kind of stereotyping does to its targets. It's not that far of a jump to "What, so they can call each other that, but when I say it I'm a racist?"

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Okay. Now I think that you and I have finally found some common ground (i.e., "Do I want smarter people running Universal so that this isn't an issue in the first place").

    Let's cut to the chase here: There were probably lots smarter / clever ways for "Bill & Ted" to have made fun of "Man of Steel." But the writers of this year's edition went the lazy / easy route and -- because they were deliberately looking for some sort of gag that they thought might offend / amuse HHN attendees -- they went with the Superman / fairy dust bit and then had this performer portray the Man of Steel as a stereotypical sissy for the rest of this edition of "Bill & Ted." Which was obviously a mistake -- both from an offending-the-gay-community point of view as well as being a not-very-clever / funny direction to have taken this show's script in.

    Now what's kind of interesting is that Jamie Lee Curtis Taete, the author of the "Vice" column that kickstarted this whole controversy, is now in full retreat / apology mode.   In a follow-up column that Vice posted today, Jamie says that " ... I never wanted to cause people to lose their jobs when I wrote that original article—I just wanted to, you know, maybe get them to be less viciously homophobic."

    So -- again -- I get what you're saying about teachable moments, JeffK. But when even the person who set this controversy in motion is now apologizing for having caused 30+ people to have lost their jobs ... Well, I think that this is an element that's well worth folding into this debate.


  • The funny thing is I have several gay friends who viewed the show this year and thought it was one of the best ones in awhile. I'm really tired of the overly politically correct mindset these days. The Bill & Ted show is like you stated... no one is safe from getting called out and being made fun of. And that's one thing that makes the show so great. They make fun of everyone and everything. The show is SUPPOSED to be offensive.

  • "I have a suspicion that he's converted to Judaism purely for the jokes."

    "And this offends you as a Jewish person?"

    "No, it offends me as a comedian!"

    I guess that's my bigger point—if the joke is funny, you can get away with a lot. If you just roll out a stereotype to point and laugh at, you risk being accused of a lot more than laziness. (The Bill & Ted show writers are probably signing an exclusive sitcom-development deal with CBS as we speak.)

    EDITOR'S NOTE: As a kid who grew up in a solidly-white-bread bedroom community outside of Boston who dreamed of someday going to the Borscht Belt and seeing all of the great tummlers who worked at hotels like Grossingers, I highly approve of the example you used here.

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