aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Hollywood’s biggest taboo
The Independent says that it’s changing, but it’s still hard to be an openly gay actor in Hollywood:
For the most part, fear continues to rule. One actor, who did not want to be named, told a story of asking after a colleague’s boyfriend while the two of them were in make-up. The colleague froze, visibly upset, and later explained that he didn’t want his homosexuality mentioned even in front of the hair and make-up people, for fear that word might reach the show runners and producers and jeopardise his prospects of future work.
The actor heaped considerable blame on Hollywood’s power elite, many of whom, are themselves openly gay but still continue to perpetuate an atmosphere of intolerance and oppression. “A lot of people are working against gays to shore up their own closet door,” the actor said. “They say it’s all about the market - if people won’t buy it, there’s nothing they can do about it.” This is, of course, the way it’s been since the golden age of the Hollywood studio system. Gay actors like Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson were expected to make public displays of interest in the opposite sex. A recent biography of James Stewart revealed that, at the start of his career, Louis B Mayer was so worried about the implications of Stewart’s lack of association with women that he obliged him to visit a private brothel he kept near the MGM lot. Part of the job of powerful gossip columnists like Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons, who took money from the studios, was to keep the public behaviour of gay actors in check and make sure their secret stayed safe from the American public.
The MySpace sex-offender purge
MySpace announced today it will begin searching its 100 million-plus user list for people listed in a national database of sex offenders. [...]
That leaves just one real disappointment in this announcement: How MySpace plans to use the data. With all that information at its disposal, and a “24-hour-a-day dedicated staff” using it, MySpace could seriously enhance its policing. Instead, the company is taking a sophisticated database and wielding it as a blunt instrument, simply banning everyone on the list from registering or keeping a MySpace account, regardless of who they are or what they did.
Frankly, I’m not sure I’m fond of the idea of a company “policing” but that’s neither here nor there. Once Kevin did his screen-scrape the writing was on the wall. A panicked public sure as hell won’t countenance nuance, even if he is right as rain:
This is bad because, obviously, banning sex offenders won’t keep them off MySpace: it’ll just give them a reason to lie about their name or location, even if they aren’t up to no good. (My survey found hundreds of past offenders, many with old or minor convictions, whose profiles reflected a seemingly normal life.) Now sex offenders who want to stay on MySpace will all be using false information from the start.
MySpace is essentially refusing an opportunity to detect and imprison active repeat offenders, by moving the entire superset of ex-offenders into the shadows. Does the convicted pedophile have lots of teenagers on his friendslist? MySpace won’t know, because he’ll be under same veil of anonymity as the flashers and peeping toms.
We know there are some ex-sex offenders who attempt to recidivate from accounts opened under their real names. If you believe they will now stay off MySpace, then the company’s policy is good for safety. But if you think they’ll simply start spelling their name a little different or lying about their ZIP code, then MySpace has lost the chance to take them off the streets.
MySpace is taking the easy way out. It may be good PR to be able to say that you don’t allow past sex offenders of any stripe on your website, but the company should keep its eye on the ball: the goal isn’t to keep a former flasher from blogging about his cat, it’s to keep current pedophiles from pursuing children. MySpace could tell the difference, if it wanted to. A smart policing effort would use the sex offender database as one of many data points in keeping the site safe. Sometimes zero-tolerance is really tolerance.
LATER: The Times reports on the development, “If registered sex offenders sign up but do not give their real names, physical attributes, locations or post their real picture, they could elude detection. Similarly, there is a chance that people who are not sex offenders might be flagged by the system.”
Let’s do lunch
Buy a TomTom
In August I wrote excited about my mother-in-law-equivalent’s TomTom, a portable GPS navigation system that’s really pretty terrific. More recently I borrowed it to tool around some of Georgia’s rural back roads. Even with the latest downloads it still misses some roads, and the occasional one-way street, but most are there.
I mention it again because with it the Kim family would likely have been spared its tragedy. I subscribe to the C-Net TiVoCast; in it Kim’s reviewing MP3 players as holiday gifts. I’m dumbfounded that something like this could happen. I wish him and his family all the best, but I fear the worst.
Last year heading north alone, trying to beat a snowstorm on an icy December night, the Interstate was closed by an accident. I got off and, misreading the map, went on a 90 mile trek through winding Virginia mountain roads. I’ll never do that again. Not without a TomTom.
LATER: Watching the Colbert Report just now I saw my first ever TomTom commercial (on TiVo no less). Now through January 6 get $100 off on any TomTom.