Sunday, January 21, 2007

Grey's Anatomy? Keep Isaiah

A few leaders in the African-American gay community are reacting to calls for the firing of Isaiah Washington from the popular television show "Grey's Anatomy" by supporting the actor and calling on the show's producers to keep him in the cast.

This follows a series of public missteps made by the actor in trying to clarify or outright deny having called another cast-member a "faggot" during an on-set dispute which has come to be fodder for the celebrity shows (and gained even wider notoriety than the series of rumored cast skirmishes that plagued "Desperate Housewives" in it's second season as reporters looked for dirt when that show became the top rated televisions how).

Having seen Washington deny he ever made the comment during the red carpet ceremony at the Golden Globes and then tell a reporter "I love gay, I wanted to be gay, please let me be gay," it still seems to me that he was trying to make light of the whole incident as a way to deflect media attention (though if that was his intention, he failed miserably at it). Then again others might be right in saying that it was his bigoted way of reacting to the constant questions about the reported incident months after cast and crew said it had been blown out of proportion and dealt with.

Everyone certainly seems to be drawing away what they want to believe from the whole incident. And there is enough to keep media entertained: Sexuality, homophobia, race, discord between cast members of the most popular drama on television, etc.

But take away the No. 1 rating, the paparazzi and the red carpet and does Washington truly owe the lesbian and gay community and apology?

Washington originally used the homophobic epithet during shooting the show and by all accounts the issue was resolved where it should have been: Between the cast members and producers. As much as has been made of his Golden Globe awards comments, this time around he didn't bring up the epithet as an insult to TR Knight or anyone else. Unfortunately, he used it to deny that he had ever directed it in Knight's way. Wrong you say? Yes! Insensitive? You bet!

But an attack on the lesbian and gay community? I'm not so sure.

An apology came late last week but it might have been a little too late. It didn't help that the statement seemed to reflect the generic mea culpa's of a well-oiled public relations firm trying to save an actor's career. Washington has since fired his PR firm.

And yet, personally I feel that it remains an issue of how the actor fits within the cast and how the other cast members - including TR Knight - feel in working with Washington. Last week on Ellen, in a moving interview, Theodore Raymond "McYummy" Knight did express surprise that Washington would deny using the word during the Golden Globes. Still, after all the bru-ha-ha, he also seemed willing to move on.

In the meantime, there have been a few prominent black gay leaders, including producer Paris Barclay, that have called for Washington's firing. In the blog-o-sphere it has been a different story, particularly over at Jasmyne Cannick's site (she has also launched a "Keep Isaiah Washington on Grey's Anatomy" petition campaign here).

For other commentary I also suggest that you check these out as well:
PS! - That cover of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" in last Thursday's episode? By Norway's Suzanne & the Magical Orchestra if you were wondering. Available in the free CD that comes with this month's MOJO magazine.

2 comments:

Lito Sandoval said...

Isn't Jasmyne Cannick the same person you were criticizing last year for her stance on queers & immigration?

Anyhoo...Isiah should be kept on Grey's. But his character should turn out to have a DL life and he gets exposed by Doogie Howser.

Andrés Duque said...

Hey Lito!

Yes, I was tremendously dissappointed that someone I had considered an ally would have such sentiments on the immigration issue. But sometimes I agree with her on other issues such as this one, as well as the ongoing work that she has been doing to protest "Shirley Q. Liquor" as some of us have done in the East Coast when the gay performer Charles Knipp has brought that show to New York City.