Seeing is Deceiving

still from HBO's 'Looking'Visibility is strange.  The more one is seen, the less one is really noticed.  Having cut my cord recently, I’m nevertheless eager to consider how much and whether two new middish season shows really improve gay male visibility.

The new series on HBO (using an article rather than a preposition instantly makes this blog that much more justified!) which based on its creators looked promising, is seeming ever more like the Gay Guys in Apartment 3-G, at least from episode rundowns I’ve been following.

Does male sexual preoccupation still equal gay, and/or should it?  It’s really an open question.  After a certain point, like a stenciled dys-erection, sexual conquest declines culturally for straight men, though it could be gender equality changing the equation for them.

The HBO series attempts to straddle interesting territory, between prudish respectability and nihilistic self-deprecation.  The central character doesn’t seem to really want initimacy.  But it definitely sounds like it’s all being executed with subtlety to warrant the distraction.  (Although the rundown of last week’s episode makes it seem like the cinematographic fetish factor could be wearing thin–eyeballs that can’t see generally ‘look’ elsewhere.)

Conversely, this new CBS sitcom that apparently has strong legs, takes a subtler tack:  a gay man in a typically testosterone-filled workplace context.  His character is made out to be exceptionally ordinary, as unstereotyped as he is simply a good team player.

Neither show breaks new ground, and each has plenty of precedents.  Apples and oranges, or are they?  One is maybe “looking” from the wrong end of the telescope, the other from the “normal” one.  Maybe they both have their place, at least for now.

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