TV Tonight’s 30 Days
posted by June 24 at 15:20 PMon
The third season of Morgan Spurlock’s FX series 30 Days
kicks off continues tonight with Spurlock dropping an opponent of gay adoption into a household headed by a same-sex couple in Michigan.
I happen to know the gay couple featured, Tom and Dennis Patrick, and their four boys. Every summer my family attends Gay Family Week in Saugatuck (not just me and the boyfriend and the kid, but my whole extended family), as do the Patricks. Tom and Dennis are great, mellow, thoughtful guys who’ve adopted four boys out of foster care. The state of Michigan, which should be pinning a medal on these guys, has instead threatened to take away their health-care benefits in the wake of an anti-gay marriage amendment to Michigan’s state constitution. But that’s not the point of this post…
Yesterday GLAAD—the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation—sent out a mass email urging “community members” to contact FX Networks to protest statements made by an anti-gay activist Spurlock interviews during the show. GLAAD, which once gave an award to 30 Days, says…
Regrettably, the episode also features a defamatory statement by Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, an anti-gay activist organization, who claims: “Homosexuality is associated with higher rates of sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse, and those are all reasons for us to be concerned about placing children into that kind of setting.” While there is no credible scientific research that backs Sprigg’s claim—and much that disputes it—the episode presents his assertion as if it were fact and offers no credible social science experts or child health authorities to challenge Sprigg’s assertion. Indeed, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, the Child Welfare League of America, and many other child health and social services authorities who support parenting by qualified lesbian and gay parents dispute Sprigg’s claim.
GLAAD asked FX Networks last week to either edit Sprigg’s comments out of the show or bring in one of those “credible social science” experts to respond to Sprigg’s comments. FX refused.
I just watched the episode on a preview copy that FX overnighted to me—in hopes, no doubt, that I would disagree with GLAAD and defend FX and Spurlock’s decision to air the show as-is.
Uh… sorry, FX, sorry, Morgan, but GLAAD is 100% right.
Sprigg’s comments come early in the program and linger like mustard gas over every scene that comes after. A casual viewer may watch Tom and Dennis with their kids and think, “Okay, these guys are decent parents, and maybe their boys are going to be fine… but other kids adopted by other gays might not be so lucky. Other kids might wind up adopted by those gays that abuse kids, and rape them, and worse.”
And GLAAD didn’t even mention the interview that comes immediately after Sprigg’s: Right after handing the mic to Sprigg Spurlock talks to Dawn Stefanowicz, a woman that wrote a book about living with a gay parent—her biological father—after he came out of the closet in the 1970s. This woman’s father talked to her about bathhouse sex “at the kitchen table,” and dragged her to a “downtown sex shop.” She holds her father up—with Spurlock’s help, and tinkly so-sad music playing in the background—not as an example of a lousy parent, gay or straight, but as an example of why no gay people should be allowed to parent. “Based on your personal experience do you believe children are at risk if they’re raised in homosexual households?” Spurlock asks this woman. “Children need a married mother and father,” she replies. “I know that there are so many situations that are not ideal, but we still need to hold to an ideal that is best for children.”
And, as with the interview with Sprigg, Spurlock doesn’t challenge this woman’s assertions or bring in anyone to address them. Instead Spurlock moves on to this: Hey, you can make piles of money providing sperm to lesbians that want to be moms—you know, those non-ideal parents that aren’t best for children!
So basically Spurlock didn’t just talk to Sprigg, and let him lie and lie and lie some more, he brought in someone to second Sprigg—someone using right-wing religious code—and allows her to assert that it would be better for Tom and Dennis’s kids if they hadn’t been adopted at all. And, again, the casual viewer is left to conclude that it would probably be for the best if Tom and Dennis hadn’t been able to adopt those boys because, hey, God only knows what Tom and Dennis are talking about at the kitchen table when there aren’t any cameras (or clueless Mormon bigots) in the house.
GLAAD wants you to contact the folks listed below to complain about Sprigg and Spurlock and 30 Days—and so do I.
20th Century Fox Television, Inc. Jeffrey Glaser Senior Vice President, Current Programming (310) 369-0211 firstname.lastname@example.org
Executive Vice President of Original Programming
Executive Vice President of Programming
Vice President of Public Relations