Late night host Conan O’Brien, who once received a lap dance from Sacha Baron Cohen-as-Bruno, finds himself in another homo scenario. Except this time, he’s not the star: It’s Shaquille O’Neal, who responded to the gay plot points in Taking Woodstock with revulsion. Naturally.
As the B-guest on The Tonight Show, Demetri Martin followed Shaq and certainly made an entrance … on stilts. This was impressive, because he made himself taller than seven-foot-one Mr. O’Neil, Conan’s first guest and couchmate.
Martin is very busy promoting Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, where he plays Elliot Tiber, the gay creator of 1969’s Woodstock festival. One of the most difficult parts of playing Tiber, Martin tells Conan, is that the script called for him to kiss a guy! This is what counts for TERROR in Hollywood. So when Martin begins discussing his same-sex snogging, the NBA player makes the classic “no homo” move: he moves away from Martin, sliding down the couch.
SEE?! That’s Shaq’s way of saying “I’m not a homo!” while also adding “That shit is crazy!”
Now, we get it: Straight men, especially those with as much machismo as Shaq, are not terribly comfortable with gays. Or at least gay stuff, like gay sex. But it’s this type of instant reaction that’s just so … 20th century. (Yes, we just said that.) It encourages behavior of “repulsion”; folks watching Shaq’s reaction receive reinforcement that their own discomfort with gay folks is okay.
Shaq needn’t be a gay ally. (Though that’d be nice.) But he does have some making up do after the Nike ad that trafficked in hilarious homophobia. Yes, Shaq is the same guy who helped police catch a suspect who assaulted a gay couple.
But do we really have to witness this same dumbass imagery over and over again?
Mr. O’Neil: We do not cringe and move away from you or other heterosexuals when you describe kissing a woman, as GROSS AS THAT IS. Please, afford us the same decorum.
BELOW: The real Elliot Tiber (nee Teichberg) at the Taking Woodstock premiere.