Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Too Gay for Mad Men

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Mad Men is set in the sixties and it is about of a group of men and women that work in advertising.  From almost the beginning of the show, Salvatore emerged as my favourite male character.  This was an easy position for him to earn, considering that the other male characters consisted of people like the lecherous lying Don Draper, equally lecherous and racist Roger Sterling and the rapist Pete Campbell.  Though married, Salvatore was clearly a heavily closeted gay man. When we consider the times, this was far more common than it is today.

Last season Salvatore was fired when he refused to sleep with one of the agency’s customers.  Talk about sexual harassment.  At the time, Don Draper, his boss seemed to be under the misconception that gay men will sleep with anyone and therefore Salvatore should have acquiesced to the demand placed upon him. It did not matter whether or not Salvatore was good at his job, refusing to sleep with Lee Gardner Jr., was enough for him to be fired.  I find it ironic that this was the end result considering how homophobic society was in the sixties (note: that same homophobia continues today)

At the end of the season a coup was staged and Don, Roger, Pete, Peggy, etc., decided to form their own agency.   Obviously this opened the door to re-introduce the ever fabulous Joan and Sal.  When he did not appear, I began to worry whether or not his character had been written out of the show.  It would seem that my worries at the time were correct.

Now with the shooting of Season 4 set to begin in March, Bryan Batt is worried that he’s out of a job. “I was supposed to be notified by December 31, and nothing,” says the actor. 

Losing Bryan, “was a tough moment for the show, but that’s where we are. I know how people felt about Bryan. I obviously love working with him, and he has been an indelible character since the pilot. But I felt it was an expression of the times that he couldn’t work there anymore. It’s the ultimate case of sexual harassment, ” said creator Matthew Weiner.

I smell something rotten.  At the former ad agency there was already on openly gay man  and therefore the refusal to bring back Batt, in the role of Salvatore is highly suspicious.  I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that Bryan Batt is an openly gay man in Hollywood.  Could this be a case of art mirroring real life?  I find it interesting that on The Sopranos and now Mad Men, both shows on which Weiner worked, the gay male characters have been eliminated. How many disappearances do we need to make a trend?  These plot twists seem awfully convenient to me.  What is up with the outing of gay characters that leads to their swift removal from the hit drama.  Homosexuality is not a plot twist or some device to be used for ratings.  When we consider that there are so few gay characters on television, it certainly seems punitive that they are removed from the show shortly after their sexuality is revealed.  It sends the message that the only good gay character is a closeted one and that smacks of homophobia.