In the past few years I’ve noticed that society in general has slowly begun to take steps towards showing compassion for people as well as fostering acceptance of differences in practically every possible circumstance. The trans-community is finally getting a voice, regardless if it’s Caitlyn Jenner’s voice or other trans-people standing up to say she doesn’t represent them. That’s simply one example of a minority who has been kept under lock and key that are finally getting a voice and a platform to give themselves an equal (and long over-due) opportunity to be represented. I don’t even need to go down the long list of individuals who live with differences in mental and physical capacities who are finally getting the fair treatment they were never afforded before. It’s not cool to call someone a ‘retard’ anymore. The long faded faces of the past who lived in “freak show” troupes as a means of survival have been so embraced by current pop culture that a hit television series was able to successfully dedicate an entire season representing a world very few (if anyone now) ever knew. Simply put, different isn’t weird anymore and weird isn’t an excuse to condemn. In many cases, weird is a cause to champion and lift-up. It’s not cool to refer to someone or something as ‘gay’ just because you don’t like it. It’s finally being recognized as offensive to use a term for sexual identity as a disparaging epithet. Celebrities from all avenues of fame have stood up and out for the victims of verbal and physical abuse. We have public service announcements for children, letting them know “It gets better.” Entertainment and pop culture, the veritable temperature of our society, is finally admitting that we’ve got to change how we treat other people. People have started listening, or so I thought.
Anyone who’s followed me could argue that I’ve put myself out here in the public eye (so to speak) and that while I have managed to retain my anonymity, I’ve flaunted everything else about myself to the entire world. From my double penises to my gigantic asshole, there’s nothing left to the imagination besides my face. In fact, the world knows me in polar opposition to how they know nearly anyone and everyone else in their lives. The me they know would be a faceless nude man with the aforementioned anatomy. I am known by my “differences” not by my similarities. It’s true, I chose this. I willingly exposed myself, both literally and figuratively, to the world. Love me or hate me, this is me, this is my body, I exist. Sure, I’ve had haters. I’ve had condemnation and judgement. The trolls came out from under their bridges to scold everything I did or said. I’ve had every imaginable STD wished upon me for my simple existence. I’ve had hatred and insults slung at me from people who by definition of their religion should be expressing love, not hate. There’s not an insult or joke I haven’t heard. The redeeming element however has surprisingly been the media. The news outlets gave me a chance to open people’s eyes, and minds. Though many interviews were more comedic and often low-brow at best, I’ve managed to promote self-love, self-acceptance and body acceptance. We’re all human inside, we all have feelings. What hurts you, likely hurts me and vice versa. Treat each other how you want to be treated, old school Golden Rule type stuff. The kind of thing Granny told you growing up, it’s legit. It still applies. Through it all, the print interviews, the radio interviews and more, I was treated with respect, compassion and dignity. Those are three things a guy who’s shown off his junk to the planet isn’t typically afforded. When the nasty comments were made, the professionalism of the news and entertainment industry made up for it. I thought “Things really have changed,” until I saw 2 Broke Girls.
I had no problem with a diphallic guy being represented on a TV show. I actually had pretty high hopes when a follower on Twitter informed me. I was a bit excited. Ignoring the obvious use of my Social Media as inspiration for a number of elements in the episode, my issue is with the writers. He was made into a joke. He was made fun of. He was turned into a punchline for something he had no control over. What shocked me was the lack of compassion and simple intelligence on the part of Rachel Sweet who wrote this particular episode of 2 Broke Girls. Had this been an episode about a trans-woman or a trans-man, there would have been a lynch mob after the writers and CBS for the way the character was portrayed. If this was a story about someone with special needs, I’d bet cold hard cash CBS wouldn’t have allowed it. But it was about a guy with diphallia. No problem there right? He’s got two dicks, let’s make him a joke. Screw dignity. Screw compassion. It was akin to high school bullying. The character is introduced and from the onset it’s obvious that he has trust issues. After revealing himself and having sex with one of the lead girls, the next day she tells everyone his secret. He shows up at her job to give her flowers and he is teased to his face to the extent that he realizes what has happened behind his back. Clearly hurt and betrayed he ends their relationship and leaves. Meanwhile the entire cast of characters has continued to trade jokes and barbs about him. When they discover that he broke up with her for telling them his secret, he’s not only the joke, he’s also the problem. It wasn’t her fault, it was his. What was his problem anyway? Ha-ha! Good riddance! The problem with this kind of writing is it inclines people to view the subject matter as worthy of ridicule and harassment. It tells the viewer that it’s okay to laugh, make jokes, and treat the subject less than anyone else. It tells the viewer that the guy has problems, it’s his issue, his betrayed trust is no big deal. It leads viewers to the path that mentally grants them a free pass to treat someone different, as someone different. If not less than them.
The fact that Rachel Sweet wrote it and the network approved it blows my mind. I’m especially shocked considering Ms. Sweet’s track record with writing credits from shows like Dharma & Greg, George Lopez and Hot In Cleveland. Her one writing credit for 2 Broke Girls is a heartless jab that has zero compassion. Don’t get me wrong, comedy is comedy and as I said, I’ve endured some really bad jokes in a number of interviews. I’m a good sport and I can play hard with the big boys. This was different. This was mean. This was heartless and cruel. You can be funny, without being hurtful, you can be funny without being funny at the expense of a character who actually represents a small fraction of society. You can be funny about a situation without dehumanizing a character who is a human.
I had never watched 2 Broke Girls before so I have no idea if every episode is this distasteful or if it was simply Ms. Sweet’s one poorly guided attempt at getting a laugh at the expense of someone who, as the title itself states is “Not Regular Down There.” If given the chance, I’d ask Ms. Sweet if she stopped to consider that pandering to sophomoric humor at the expense of other people was acceptable in her own heart to justify a paycheck.
It wasn’t yesterday when entertainment and Pop Culture started up the path away from the tropes of stereotyping races and people with differences for entertainment. However, 2 Broke Girls surely has taken a huge step backwards and in the process tried to convince me of a few things. I am not just a man with two penises, I am the punchline of joke to people. I’m the fodder for network television bullying. I’m fodder for making people laugh. What’s worse is they dehumanized me to everyone who watched that episode. When I interviewed with Caitlin Dewey with The Washington Post last year she closed the article with the following:
“If the Internet is the freak show of the 21st century, at least we’re freaking out with a little more humanity.”
Unfortunately it doesn’t really feel that way.