On rare nights my son and I enjoy a cuddly night watching TV together — neither one of us tends to slow down long enough to spend a ‘night’ watching television. When we do, it’s something akin to an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3K, where we heckle the actors and pick apart the shows at length. The experience is more about our discussion than what we’re watching.
This week we were watching a series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes on Logo, because he’s into the superhero gal and all things Whedon. He’s learning 101 ways to kill a vampire, and can’t figure out why wood is so magically powerful against them. We go a few rounds on this one. He’s pretty sure not all wood is strong enough to penetrate a super-strong undead being’s flesh, and I’m thinking he’s got a point. He’s been reading too much Harry Potter and worrying about Ollivander’s wand selections. I digress…
An ad for the show “1 gal, 5 gays” comes on the air. It’s a funny ad, catchy. My son takes offense. “Why’s the show called that?” he asks. I’m a little unclear–not sure what he’s asking–a common parental issue. I explain sexual orientation, which I know he’s already familiar with, because we have relatives who are lesbians. He gets worked up, his face twists with a frown and he puffs out, “It’s silly. They should just call the show, ‘1 gal, 5 guys’. Why would they do that?”
He’s got a point.
I understand the marketing department needing to communicate to the consumer the focus of the show. I get a lot of things about labels. There’s great pride in owning and reclaiming all of your identity and in being able to support others of like mind. I know through my blog I’ve connected to other people with epilepsy because I’ve stood up and owned that label as my own. It’s a powerful and amazing feeling. I’m not against a person’s right to champion their causes, but I do question our cultural need to place others convenient buckets instead of discovering them as people.
My son lives in a world where many labels happily don’t register on his radar–it’s wonderful to witness, and a great reminder to question and reset assumptions when needed. I’m reminded of the ongoing discussions about legalizing “gay marriage” while others refer to the same topic as “marriage equality”.
The words we use form the reality we live in. When filled with labels which intentionally marginalize, we deliberately divide our culture. When we choose inclusive, non-hateful language, we instead build a framework to rediscover ourselves through each other.
Anyway, I’ve taken another look at my own labels, and making sure the ones I wear are self-chosen. How about you? Anything you need to peel off?