The Shirley Q. Liquor fallout just keeps on – er – falling…
Ms. Liquor and her creator, Charles Knipp, came under fire a few weeks ago after Jasmyne Cannick and GLAAD (among others) came out against the gay white man’s straight black face. Now the editors over at The New York Blade have joined the fray.
Yeah, they’re a little late, but you have to cut them a little slack – they are, after all, a weekly.
The piece first outlines some concerned queens’ responses to GLAAD’s involvement, including this bit from the hosts of Feast of Fools:
GLAAD needs to focus on the big picture and not waste its time on a two bit performer like Shirley Q.
This strikes as a bit queer. It seems to us that GLAAD’s boundary defying statements took a look at a bigger picture than they’ve ever tackled. It’s really apples and oranges: wagging their finger at an ignorant teenage vs. taking on what many see as racism. Seems pretty cut and dry to us.
Regardless of our opinion, GLAAD president Neil Giuliani had his own take – a take that carries the distinct odor of opportunism or, at least, circumstances. The Bladers write:
Giuliani told The Washington Blade that its stance against Knipp was a “unique instance. We very clearly recognized,” he said, “that what we were doing in that case was standing with those organizations and individuals in the African-American community that asked us to take a stand against that racism.”
[He also said] that GLAAD took action this month against the Shirley Q. Liquor routine partly because he and other gay leaders recently attended a seminar on racism.
Are we to believe Giuliani and friends only now heard about racism? Did this conference open their eyes to this new phenomenon or were they asked to participate? If their involvement in the debate can be attributed to this conference of their’s, does that mean it’s a one-off round against racism?
The New York Blade certainly hopes so:
…Though we agree with Giuliano in taking a stand against racism, we question whether this specific instance, as he said in a press release “has risen to a level of visibility and importance that we feel compelled to add our voice to those speaking out against this awful portrayal.”
…It is possible for an artist or performer to use such loaded images and stereotypes to uncover truths. (Little has been said about Knipp’s actual act, and we haven’t seen it so cannot offer an opinion.)
The debate over Knipp’s Shirley Q. Liquor has raged on for many years. Comedian Margaret Cho and pop icon RuPaul have spoken out in favor of Knipp. Many activists have spoken against him. Both sides make legitimate, intelligent arguments that also involve complex issues such as freedom of expression and political correctness.
We commend GLAAD for condemning racism, but we question whether the organization’s goal is best attained by joining this particular fight.
It’s funny that people are coming out against GLAAD over this – we can’t remember the last time one of their so-called stands actually produced such a lively dialogue. Shame they got reamed. Now all we’re going to get are their excruciatingly long reports about gay characters on network TV.