Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Wait, People Do This for Fun? | And Now for a Truly Dumb Impre... »

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tonight’s 30 Days

posted by on June 24 at 15:20 PM

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

FX Networks:
Nick Grad
Executive Vice President of Original Programming
(310) 369-0949

Chuck Saftler
Executive Vice President of Programming
(310) 369-0949

Scott Seomin
Vice President of Public Relations
(310) 369-0938

RSS icon Comments


i think a "bold" linkage was broken. Every post after this is all bold.

Posted by Jeff | June 24, 2008 3:24 PM

Morgan Spurlock is a douche.

Posted by Paul Constant | June 24, 2008 3:29 PM

i recently started watching reruns of this show on and it's probably one of the most frustrating shows i've seen in a long time. the whole premise of most episodes, take an ignorant country boy and make them defend their uninformed beliefs, is so fucking tired. it's such easy TV. this show COULD be really good, which is possibly why i actually care that it isn't.

but also, it's fun to yell at the TV, so i still watch it.

Posted by greg | June 24, 2008 3:39 PM

I can't write to the sponsors because I haven't seen it yet. I always hated the folks who would protest something as being bad, then say they haven't seen it yet.

Posted by Jason Josephes | June 24, 2008 3:40 PM

The third season is actually in it's fourth week; they've already had Morgan workin' in a coal mine, a football player in a wheelchair, and a hunter living with venomous vegans.

Posted by JTContinental | June 24, 2008 3:44 PM

It's hard to decide which idea is the more antiquated and out-of-step with current realities: The idea that gay couples shouldn't adopt, or the idea that reality television is operating under some sort of obligation to its audience to present fair and accurate portrayals of its subjects.

Greg @ #3 nails it:

it's fun to yell at the TV, so i still watch it.

The very qualities that make this sort of mass-entertainment product offensive are the same ones that make it popular.

Posted by flamingbanjo | June 24, 2008 3:47 PM

KTLA in Los Angeles celebrated marriage equality on the day it became legal by having on their morning show a nutjob from something called Freedom and Faith something-or-other on the air, unopposed, and without calling him on his lies. It was such a blatant piece of progaganda, I was shocked. I also took action by contacting the station two different ways and then reporting them to the public affairs office of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center.

Lies are lies. What is wrong with some people? Why give a platform to liars whose lies are also destructive bigotry?

Posted by whatevernevermind | June 24, 2008 3:48 PM

30 days is a great show. Everyone has their opinions so let them have it.

Posted by bobcat | June 24, 2008 3:49 PM

Interestingly, FX's Vice President of Public Relations (Scott Seomin) used to hold a high-profile position at GLAAD.

Posted by sorryroger | June 24, 2008 3:52 PM

Thanks for the heads up- I was under the mistaken impression that this show might break some stereotypes and soften the hearts of some stone cold bigots... and seriously, how hard is it to edit in an opposing opinion?

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | June 24, 2008 3:54 PM

I thought Reality TV died after the writers strike was over?

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 24, 2008 4:03 PM

@6 The masses aren't entertained when civil rights are subject to an on-air hatchet job. The masses are mis-informed when this happens.

Posted by Jimmy Jackhammer | June 24, 2008 4:07 PM

Dan, haven't you said that gays are damaged goods until proven otherwise, in part due to many of the reasons what's-his-name listed?

Posted by UnoriginalAndrew | June 24, 2008 4:19 PM

#12: The masses enjoy being misinformed. It is their entertainment.

Posted by flamingbanjo | June 24, 2008 4:21 PM

He's a Michael Moore wannabe, asshat...

Posted by michael strangeways | June 24, 2008 4:36 PM

@15 time out. Michael Moore is a TOTAL hypocrit, everyone knows that.

Posted by OR Matt | June 24, 2008 4:42 PM

@15 and @16 aren't necessarily exclusive.

Posted by lostboy | June 24, 2008 4:49 PM

I know Dennis and Tom, too. They deserve better.

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | June 24, 2008 5:18 PM

off the 30 days website for this episode:
"A God-fearing 24-year-old conservative homophobe from red state America travels to San Francisco’s Castro District to live in what is notoriously known as one of the gayest areas of the country. As he joins a gay sports team, works a job that caters to gay clientele, attends gay-friendly church services and lives with a gay roommate, he gets an inside view of what it is like to live as a minority that still elicits strong feelings of hatred among many Americans."

I read that as "services and lives with a gay room mate."

Thank you and good night.

Posted by sepiolida | June 24, 2008 5:19 PM

Did you see the show already, Balt-O-Matt, out there on the East Coast? It's really infuriating.

Posted by Dan Savage | June 24, 2008 5:20 PM

@14 So true. Candy everybody wants n'all.

Posted by Jimmy Jackhammer | June 24, 2008 6:32 PM

I'll withhold judgement until I see it...but thought the episode where they dropped a straight, anti-gay marriage guy in the Castro was good, and positive on all fronts. Also liked the one where they drop the diehard Christian dude into a Muslim community. I've liked what I've seen of the show so far, will check out this episode.

Posted by Gabe | June 24, 2008 6:57 PM

Damn it. I had high hopes for this episode! I still plan on watching it but will keep an eye out for the bits mentioned. Thanks for the heads up, Dan!

Posted by bemaha | June 24, 2008 7:19 PM

@20--No, Dan. We don't get cable. Instead we were watching Tales of the City on DVD. Yes. We're *that* gay.

Posted by Balt-O-Matt | June 24, 2008 7:27 PM

After watching this I kind of agree, and disagree,

The episode was focused on the point of view from the woman from California, and her issues with it. I doubt that Mr. Spurlock is suggesting gay and lesbian parents are bad is kind off base considering he is doing a show like this.

However could it have helped if there was someone disputing the comments made by the "Authorities" shown in the episode - possibly but then I think it could have taken away from what they were trying to show - one woman's fight with her personal beliefs (albeit closeminded beliefs in my opinion) and not a war of words between two different camps that we hear all the time.

I think 30 Days was trying to put a personal spin on the issue.

Posted by Smith Kennedy | June 24, 2008 9:48 PM

I remember a while back on Slog a writer slandered a man accused of a crime saying that it was a "hate crime" the man committed. Later it came out it wasn't a hate crime, i remember no retraction and I'm sure the writer is still employed by The Stranger.

Posted by Bud Dickman | June 24, 2008 10:09 PM

@25 If they want to leave out the other point of view because it would take away from "one woman's fight with her personal beliefs", then why include the "Authorities" (and I use that word loosely) in the first place...?

Why not make it purely about said woman and her personal beliefs, rather than giving her misguided views a false gravitas?

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | June 25, 2008 12:09 AM

@27: From what I've seen on the show, they try to set a stereotype in the beginning, so we can watch someone try and prove it wrong by immering themselves in the real people who live a different lifestyle. Granted I haven't watched this one yet. I THINK the idea was to set a strong, misguded opinion forward, then show how wrong it can be without being overly some here appear to be.

Setting the stage with BS from the anti-gay marriage/adoption people SHOULD serve to prove them wrong during the course of the episode.

I love the Stranger and the Slog, but am among the straight male minority here....and have openly gay family members and friends. I'm totally down with believing any and all rights I have everyone should have. It seems like you are protesting a bit much here. Other than Bravo, who else is putting gay folk on TV so the rest can see they are just like us? Is it THAT negative, or do our capable gay parents show that they are good parents in the end?

Okay, I gotta watch it before talking more, seems like a tempest in a teapot here.

Posted by Gabe | June 25, 2008 12:31 AM

Different episode, but I don't see an anti-gay bias here...if that was Sperlock's agenda why would he this show?

Posted by Gabe | June 25, 2008 12:45 AM

Just sent off an email to the guys at FX. We have enough to worry about without liars and distortionists being presented as reasonable members of the opposition.

Posted by Jason D | June 25, 2008 3:30 AM

Fortunately, in spite of whatever wacky agenda was being played out there, Tom and Dennis come off as the wonderful guys and fabulous parents that they are, while what's-her-face comes off as an unstable, immature bigot (just how many times can one stomp out of a room in a one hour episode?)

The indisputable highlight of the show, however, is the 2 second shot of my Goddaughter and her daddies near the beginning. It's easy to tell which kid she is because she's 100% made of cute. :)

Posted by Alan | June 25, 2008 6:40 AM

I sent off emails to this bunch of Foxbots expressing my disgust with this latest low-brow, fear mongering, example of their right-wing agenda.

In the meantime, I'd advice everyone to turn off their TVs. I gave it up 4 yrs ago & couldn't be happier!

Posted by kladinvt | June 25, 2008 7:57 AM

Dan, Thanks for the links - but do you have one for Spurlock himself? I used to like his stuff, but now I'd love to contact him directly.

Posted by Phil in Colorado | June 25, 2008 8:55 AM

We have the full clip at G-A-Y, for anyone who wants to watch it.

Posted by G-A-Y | June 25, 2008 10:53 AM

watched it last night..well,half watched it...that lady was bothering me to the point - I cursed at the TV and then changed the channel til she was done ranting her religious crap. Oh and how it botherwed her that the parents had to tell thier children (if they wanted to tell anyone, that they had 2 was up to them) thought that lady was gonna go batshit over that..? I thought to know "WHY, they have to say that to thier kids lady?" ...because of people like her who raise thier lil' bastards with bigotry and Hate. I also, found myself HOPING that her 2 adopted kids were gonna grow up Gay....tho, she'd probably either religiously abuse them, or dis-own them...thats how she came off to me....I watched maybe 3/4 of it...

Posted by Disgusted American | June 25, 2008 12:44 PM

Here is the info for the company that writes, produces, and edits '30 Days':

Actual Reality Pictures

p 310.202.1272

Posted by Dave | June 25, 2008 2:24 PM

It is a good show, though I was a little thrown off by the author who blames her father's sexuality for her bad childhood. There's bad seeds, both gay and stright.

Posted by will | June 25, 2008 3:31 PM

What is Morgan Spurlock's contact information? I'd like to email him directly and complain. He blew it on this one.

Posted by LDS Gems | June 25, 2008 10:31 PM


Scott Seomin is the former head of GLAAD's LA Office. He left under quite histrionic circumstances. Be that as it may, as an out gay man - he's the lever at FX to try:

Scott Seomin
Vice President of Public Relations
(310) 369-0938

Posted by TongueUntied | June 25, 2008 11:41 PM

I have a gay child, religious family & being a clinical SW, I was in turmoil when my child came out.This lady is closed-minded. And the show did not do anything to help. They did not take her to PFLAG or meet with gay children. The "girl" they had her talk to was exposed to should be compared to as child abuse. The premise of the show was good, but, once again,it was taken to the level of exploitation and ignorant target market.

Posted by cj | June 28, 2008 12:47 AM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.