LONDON, ENGLAND -- An angry mob gathered outside Television Centre yesterday to protest at the one-dimensional portrayal of gays and lesbians in mainstream television animation.
The ill-feeling was prompted by the BBC screening a five-second fully-clothed clinch between Popeye and Olive Oyl while a distraught Wimpy looked on in anguish – his sexually ambiguous hero ripped from him by a scheming woman.
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Demonstrators waving placards emblazoned with provocative slogans such as “Pluto Likes it Doggy-Style” and “Fred 4 Barney” accused the Western media of homophobia and insensitivity after research showed that 97% of cartoon heroes were depicted as straight, while gay characters were being increasingly marginalised.
Many other cartoon networks screened the kiss on a loop to show solidarity with the BBC and stand up for freedom of speech. A spokesman for industry regulator Ofcom tried to play down the furore saying that he had interpreted the offending scene as “less the bitter heartbreak of a browbeaten social pariah destined to walk alone through life’s miseries, and more the minor frustration of a tubby gentleman who has misplaced his hamburger.”
But last night the protests threatened to turn violent and extra police were seconded to the offices of Nicolodean and the Disney Channel.
Rally organiser and gay rights activist Peter Tatchell whipped the crowd into a frenzy with a passionate speech about the callousness of story-boarders and network executives. “This is not just about Wimpy losing out to that bitch Olive Oyl,” he shouted through a loud speaker amid much whooping. “Many cartoon characters are trapped in an overtly conventional moral landscape. Take Velma out of Scooby Doo. Would it be such a crime to let her bag off with Daphne just once? It’s not like that Fred is interested – with that white jumper and neckerchief combo he’s fooling no-one.”
“The cartoons being spewed out by our tyrannous television stations are nothing short of a disgrace. Moreover they are deliberately misleading the nation’s youth,” Tatchell went on. “Are we really supposed to believe that the oiled-up, muscle-bound He-Man has any real feelings for Teela? Please. But the chemistry he has with Ram-Man palpably sizzles.”
Tatchell cited further examples of blinkered programme-making including Donald Duck wiggling his “naked arse” whenever Mickey entered the room, and the scandalous under-representation of Snagglepuss on terrestrial channels.
The demonstrations have spread across the Atlantic, with fundamentalist group the Pink Hoodies, who go around in tasteful mauve balaclavas, descending on Disneyland in California and publicly “outing” Bugs Bunny.
Back home, in a smaller scale rally, actor John Inman burned effigies of Simpsons creator Matt Groening outside Woolworths in Brighton. “Sixteen years they’ve been churning out this hetero propaganda,” he lamented to anyone who’d listen, “What exactly does Waylon Smithers have to do to get himself a decent storyline? I tell you, it’s just not right.”