A Dog Named Tracy

After Tracy Morgan: A Fan’s Lament

I have been a fan of Tracy Morgan since his time on Saturday Night Live, back when I was in middle and high school. I grew up with his SNL characters, such as Brian Fellow and Astronaut Jones, and they never failed to crack me up. His performance as alter-ego Tracy Jordan is, in my opinion, one of the brightest lights of my favorite show, 30 Rock. My dog is even named Tracy Jordan (TJ for short.)

The dog Tracy Jordan and me

So you can imagine why it has been hard for me these past few days to read about the disgusting, painfully unfunny comments Mr. Morgan made last week as part of his stand-up set in Tennessee. How do I, as a gay fan, reconcile my respect  and enjoyment of Mr. Morgan’s work when that same body of work contains a stand-up act which is hateful and rhetorically violent towards people like myself?

It’s a relatively common phenomenon: the discovery that an idol, or at least a celebrity whom you admire, is, on a personal level, actually a total douche. It’s a natural byproduct of our celeb-obsessed culture. If you build someone up too much, they are inevitably going to disappoint. But there’s a difference between being merely disappointing and saying that you would stab your son if he were gay.

The question I’m faced with in the aftermath of Mr. Morgan’s rant is this – can I continue to enjoy his work now that I have the knowledge that he either believes that gay people are disgusting and deserving of violence, or at least has the capacity and audacity to say such things to a crowded room of people?

This whole situation reminds me of two other recent controversies in which Chick-fil-A and Target, two businesses that sell products that I love (delicious chicken nuggets and cute, affordable everything) turned out to support anti-gay marriage initiatives and candidates. I went through all the usual stages of grief, as is typical for an overly dramatic person like myself with an unhealthy level of brand loyalty and personal affinities towards monolithic corporations. And after the grieving (ok, grieving is a strong word!) was over, I was left to figure out whether or not I could justifiably eat or shop at Chick-fil-A or Target anymore.

After a relatively short period of deliberation and discussion, I decided I could. Maybe it’s not justifiable, but it’s what I wanted and perhaps I just managed to rationalize it. I would never buy stock in one of these companies (assuming they maintain their ties to evil politicians and I somehow ever become wealthy enough to afford even one share of anything.) But I will occasionally give them my business, because I really like Waffle Fries and Michael Graves teapots and I would really be punishing myself more than my enemies if I were to deny myself these simple pleasures. It is very likely that my priorities aren’t exactly in order, but I figure you pick your battles- and the Battle of Chick-fil-A is not the one I plan on going down in.

With all this in mind (alongside a curious craving for a banana pudding milkshake served with a smile by a bright young Christian) how do I solve a problem like the one presented by Tracy Morgan? I respect the people who say that they are going to boycott 30 Rock, but I politely decline to follow suit. I love 30 Rock, and I still find the character Tracy Jordan to be very funny. One fewer non-Nielsen Family viewer is going to hurt 30 Rock, and in turn Mr. Morgan, far less than having one less brilliant comedy to watch religiously every Thursday is going to hurt me.

I doubt I will ever watch another Tracy Morgan stand-up special, and I certainly won’t pay to go see him do his routine live (not that I ever did before, either.) But I will keep watching 30 Rock and laughing at the character Tracy Jordan’s exploits, because as a person who was born Gay (contrary to Mr. Morgan’s alleged beliefs) I enjoy laughing my ass off.

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  • Right Wingers Are Socioptahs (John From England)

    But he isn’t even funny. He so unfunny it’s not funny!

    Dude your bigger issue here is why do you have such a lame sense of humor? Margins humor has the intellect of a…

  • James Whatley

    Totally understand where you’re coming from (if from a somewhat different perspective).

    I was mad about this band that I loved (Frightened Rabbit); I discovered them before everyone else (thanks to a late-night trawling of myspace), listened to all their music and then – eventually – managed to get tickets to see them in concert.

    They sucked. But I was willing to forgive them. The following week I was seeing another band (We Were Promised Jetpacks) who were on the same label. Much better performance overall and well, they rocked. FRabbit were in the audience and, later at the bar, when I approached them and said hi – they were cool. They didn’t believe I was a fan at first, but when I showed them their albums on my MP3 player – they understood.

    So why oh why oh why the lead singer then decided to hit on my other half *right in front of me* I have no idea. He was a complete tool and – since then – I’ve boycotted their music completely. It makes me sad, but I just can’t listen to it any more.

    Like I said – this is a totally different perspective but bizarrely – I kind of know where you’re coming from. Good for you for putting it into words dude.

  • andy

    What a bunch of Dribble. Go on live your OUT LIFE coasting on the backs of the real gay activist that continue to push the line for all of us. This article makes me sick.

  • Max

    I never thought I’d see an article on Queerty that didn’t demonize me for still eating at Chickfila, shopping at Target, and watching 30 Rock.

  • Sebastian

    So this means that his rant and anyone elses should not be punishable? Did I get that clear? He should be fired for his rant in 2009 and 2011! That will show people that when they spew these hateful and violent words, there are consequences! Morgan himself said his word were “INDEFENSIBLE”! He may apologize on a dime to save his “carreer” but I ain’t bying it!

  • ronbo

    @Max: Max, Were you born a decades earlier, I could see you in pink lederhosen emphatically pointing out where all the gay boys party… merely for the pleasure of briefly shining in the spotlight with a few butch SS members. Do you take pride in turning your back on your fellow man? Do you bareback in the hopes of infecting your partners? Congratulations, you are a faux rebel. You DON’T do the right thing.

  • Pete n SFO

    I’m not going to trash the author, but suffice it to say, I disagree.

    I haven’t been to Target since their bullshiz was made known & neither has anyone I know.

    I’m a middle-class, white guy, with an education; that’s a VIP card in the USA. People listen/hear/respond to what I say because of that fact. (Snipe away, those of you ‘in-the-club’ know that it’s true) I can ‘pass’ in order to get what I want.

    Every time I use that ‘pass’ I have compromised my integrity & principles & made it more difficult for anyone that isn’t VIP (lesbians, people of color, english 2nd language, etc)

    When people are oppressed, and gay people most certainly are, we ALL have a duty to speak up. This is America & sometimes your wallet becomes your voice. As Amy Pohler said, in her portrayal of Hillary Clinton, “I invite you to grow a pair. And if you can’t, I’ll lend you mine.”

  • dvlaries

    We all do it, none of us is fully resistant to the temptation in our media-driven culture. It’s all too easy when admiring talent and accomplishment to lull ourselves into believing we know anything about a given celebrity’s virtue and integrity. From Fatty Arbuckle through O.J. Simpson and beyond we are routinely doused with the cold water wake up-call that the public image has nothing to do with the real person.

  • Vic

    I think Tracy is funny as hell. I will continue to support him. I don’t think any comic should be censor.

  • Joel Wang

    So, let me get this right, Mr. Leveridge.

    You’re saying that it’s OK to continue to financially contribute to corporations that openly oppose gay rights, because somehow, choosing NOT TO DO SO is “punishing yourself more than your enemies”?

    Well, if that is where your values are residing today, then please, more power to you.

    The only issue I have is, I don’t think this kind of value deserves any kind of celebration or validation from other QUEER folks, who may hold decidedly different a different set of values.

  • Adam

    Excellent article.

  • Sebastian

    @ vic
    go kill yourself you F’n [email protected]@ot turd pusher! See now i’m a comdedian so I should be able to say and write what I want….No censorship Right? Not that I wish you to do as I wrote, I want you tob safe, happy and full of love…just trying to make a point that homophobic and violent speech is “WRONG” and as Mr Morgan said himself, his words were INDEFENSIBLE! It is your choice to like or dislike a comedian but If you support someone with this kinf of hate speech and are part of the GLBT, it bewilders me at best.

  • Sebastian

    oops…should of read I want you to be safe…and this kind of hate speech!

  • VinciSmetana

    You really need to stab your dog to death. What? Too soon?

    Seriously. What I find most disturbing is comparing a human being to a corporation, even if Morgan is a sort of “brand.” But, I suppose if our laws protect businesses as much as they do people, then it makes sense that it influences its citizen’s mindsets. Has Target or Chick-fil-A (isn’t that a fast food restaurant?) issued apologies? Are they making steps towards amends? As insincere as people feel Morgan is, he is making steps towards redemption and I suspect he isn’t finished yet.

    We vote with our wallet. I don’t agree with people who are boycotting 30 Rock (who, contrary to the author’s belief, needs all the viewers it can get) or Morgan, as I believe an opportunity has been created for Morgan to make a better example out of himself. But to put him on the same level as corporations is sad, almost as sad as supporting said corporations, especially if they haven’t even engaged in vindicating themselves of their transgressions.

    This whole incident may have inspired the author to reflect on allegiances as well as the name of his dog, but taking an actual stand sounds a little inconvenient in his life.

  • Shamdrew

    Thank you for letting me continue to believe not everyone on this website is bat-shit crazy. The anger pouring from these articles lately has been obscene. It made me feel that the only way people saw us pushing forward was by being pushy, loud, and opinionated to extremes.

    Also, cute dog.

  • Elloreigh

    Obviously Mr. Leveridge is free to do as he pleases. But I agree with Joel Wang’s statement that “I don’t think this kind of value deserves any kind of celebration or validation…”

    This statement by Mr. Leveridge is telling: “I would really be punishing myself more than my enemies if I were to deny myself these simple pleasures.”

    I have a question: Are ‘simple pleasures’ worth the price of your self-respect?

    One of the great flaws of being human is the ability to easily rationalize questionable positions and actions. The downfall of many gay human beings in particular is their acceptance of the idea that they should expect and demand less from society, having posited as true the falsehood of their own inferiority.

    Which isn’t to say that I’ve never had a moment of weakness and opted for what was practical over principle. A matter of choosing one’s battles, if you want my rationalization for it. I don’t come away from reading Mr. Leveridge’s article with the feeling that he’s making a similar choice, though. Instead, what I’m seeing reads like a whole lot of whining about what are arguably minor sacrifices. Giving up a few “simple pleasures” might seem like an inconsequential contribution, but it isn’t. Every penny of profit we give to those who’ve shown their loyalties lie elsewhere (or are perhaps divided at best) has the potential to wind up being used against us. You can double the benefit by donating or spending the money accumulated over time from such sacrifices somewhere that actually helps us.

    Or you can continue trying to treat your low self-esteem with short-term, selfish pleasures that contribute to your own oppression.

  • The crustybastard

    This is not a “lament.”

    This is a rationalization.

  • The crustybastard

    @Vic: No comic was censored, moron.

    A comic had the right to say whatever he pleased, as did all who responded.

    Freedom of speech doesnt mean freedom from consequences.

  • adam

    If everybody was a selfish, self-serving and devoted to their own personal luxuries as the author of this article there would never be any social advancement.

    Boycotts are effective, and if enough people join in to create change then the boycotts don’t have to last forever. There are also alternative sources of luxury products and foods for the meantime.

  • Adam

    Can’t people be nicer to Mr. Leveridge for having an opinion? I actually thought it was a good article and a similar issue I was having as a fan of his tv show. To continue watching a show that I love and many of whom in the cast support gay rights or stop watching to make a point to Tracy Morgan who already apologized? Yes, he has a bad stigma but who doesn’t? Who hasn’t made mistakes? I would assume that a majority of the gay people that are still angry are the same people who will refuse to accept apologies in their everyday life and say it was not heartfelt or was said to appease them. People make mistakes in life and say bad things and I doubt that most of the posters on this site have abstained from making a horrible remark about another human being. Is an apology not enough or does he actually need to give birth to a gay son, raise it, get said son in the GLAAD organization, and then they can march together to make amends? To the posters who said that we have a right to an opinion just like Tracy Morgan, true. The author of this article is entitled to an opinion without being reprimanded like an infant in comments.

  • Joel Wang

    @Adam – When one writes an opinion piece about how one’s own comfort and convenience comes before the principal of the matter at hand, AND publishs it in a Queer blog, it’s basically a “flame me” call.

    In this day and age, when opposition to gay rights all over the world continues to include execution, criminalization and the roll-back of formerly granted civil protections, ONE MUST, as a gay citizen, express some degree of intolerance toward these transgressions.

    To accomplish anything less is, to say the least, a bit self-indulgent.

  • Elloreigh

    @Adam: You said: “The author of this article is entitled to an opinion without being reprimanded like an infant in comments.”

    No, he’s not.

    He’s entitled to his opinion.

    He’s entitled to express that opinion.

    What he is not entitled to is freedom from criticism of his publicly expressed opinion.

  • who'syomama

    very cute dog!

Comments are closed.