Originally Posted on August 6, 2005
Last night, I was watching a couple of TiVoed episodes of a series on News Corporation's cable channel FX called "30 Days." This breakthrough series is the brainchild of Morgan Spurlock, the man behind the documentary Super-Size Me. What Suprlock does is to take individuals and put them in an opposite universe for 30 days. The two episodes I watched were glaring examples of this concept.
In one episode, Spurlock took two rather bourgeois New York area clubistas and took them away from their world of overconsumption into a sustainable community. As I mentioned before in a couple of blogs, I visited the Dancing Rabbit eco-village in Rutledge, Missouri. For thirty days, these two folks were stuggling to deal with letting go of their consumptive selves. While the guy was struggling with his need for meat products, the lady who accompanied him had to learn about getting dirty and letting go of fragrance products that affected one of the co-ops on the property. In the end, they did learn a few things, but not everything. Or, one would hope they did.
Too bad they didn't show Rachel, the guide who showed Scott Schumacher and I the place when we visited on July 4. She was such a cool person and quite unlike some the folks they showed from the village. Also, from what I saw in this episode, I must agree with Scott's summation that some of the things this partcular co-op did was a bit extreme compared to what he believes in and does.
The next episode was quite sobering, even for me. They found this very young Christian ex-Army fella living on a farm in central Michigan and put him in the Castro with a maintream gay male. OK, "mainstream" in the Castro means making an income in the upper five digits, owning a condo worth at least $300,000 and is quite well-adjusted and connected.
Well, Mr. Fish-Out-Of-Water had quite the rough 30 days. He was berated for being a straight guy at Daddy's. Just be glad he wasn't taken to the Lone Star. That could've been worse! He also debated with the Rev. Penny Nixon at the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco over the Bible. Gee, I remember the Rev. Nixon from my days in the Bay Area! She's Senior Pastor now! WOW!
Ehem, anyway...what got the guy to realize that his convictions about gay folks were wrong was a meeting with a few members of local chapter of P-FLAG. You have to hand it to them! If you were so vehemently against gay folks, one visit with the P-FLAG folks will change your mind once and for all!
What Mr. Spurlock failed to mention was that since 1971, gay folks were responsible for property values in the Castro skyrocketing by 700% throughout the 1970's. Presenting the Castro may be a good point, but it is an extreme and not entirely representative of what real gay life is all about. The Castro is simply a result of 35 years of liberation on steroids with a classist bent. A harsh summation for the place I came out in, I suppose.
The cool thing about the series is that Spurlock will provide vignettes of examples of topics that relate to what is going on during the 30 Days. During the gay episode, he showed both sides of the Biblical argument over homosexuality at the Christopher Street West parade in West Hollywood. and a gay youth space in Tulsa. I must admit that he was quite brave bringing all of these elements together in the fashion he presented throughout the series.
My hat's off to Morgan Spurlock! This is some truly brave television that goes beyond the standard reality TV fare. It's been a while since I've been riveted to something so educational in the context of mainstream television in a long time. In fact, I found myself keeping an eye on the works of Spurlock as opposed to the publicity-baiting asswipe named Michael Moore.
If you haven't seeen any of the episodes, I suggest you take an hour and check it out.