Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sylvester, the ailing cat

The verdict is in.  Phoebus is a bland, predictable, no-talent.  When he was solo at night, we suspected as much, and often wondered what his Sylvester, the ailing cat voice was all about.  Now that he is on the morning show, we don't have to wonder any more. 

Friday morning, he did (not performed, because performed implies talent) a skit titled "50 Shades of Gay", supposedly a parody of a popular novel, "50 Shades of Gray".  Quick, if you didn't hear the sketch, what do you think Phoebus did? 

If you guessed a lispy, stereotyped "gay voice" that substituted adolescent euphemisms for certain body parts in describing a sex scene between two men, you would be almost right.  The "gay voice" was more like an ailing Sylvester the Cat done in different octaves to signal different characters than it was a "gay voice".   

We need to talk about what a "gay voice" is.  Simply put, it is an effeminate-sounding, lispy voice used by comedians over forty years ago, when gays first started "coming out", to make fun of gay people and strengthen the belief that gay men are not real men.  Sure, some men, both straight and gay, have a "gay voice".  Most men, and most gay men, do not have that voice.  But that fact doesn't stop comedian wannabes today from using the "gay voice" to signal a gay character, even if they don't mean it to be offensive, as it was meant to be when used over forty years ago. 

Comedians who rely on stereotypes to be funny walk a very thin line between being funny and being offensive, especially if the comedian doesn't belong to the group of people he is making fun of.  It can be done, but obviously not by Phoebus.   

Andy Dick's Gay Barbie Song is an example of a funny parody.  He uses a "gay voice" to poke fun at his jealousy over an American pop icon, Barbie and Ken.  One could over-analyze the song and deem it offensive, but when one first hears the song, one can't help but laugh.  The humor is unexpected and pokes fun at the fakeness of Barbie's world compared to the real world.  Who couldn't laugh at the line, "I guess Ken likes boobs made of fake parts"?  Andy Dick (and, yes, we catch the pun of his last name) uses the "gay voice" to poke fun at Barbie's world, not to make fun of gay people. 

Along comes Phoebus and tries a parody that pokes fun at what?  Who knows?  The unimaginative title of the skit, "50 Shades of Gay" falls flat and tells the listener the skit is probably intended to make fun of gay people.  Unfortunately, his "gay voice" is not a "gay voice" at all, but a voice of Sylvester the Cat with the flu.  He proceeds to read an excerpt from the book, "50 Shades of Gray", substituting stale euphemisms, like steak sandwich, for certain body parts and different octaves of his ailing Sylvester the Cat voice to signal different characters.  The question remains: what the Hell was he poking fun at?  We don't know. 

He certainly wasn't making fun of the book, "50 Shades of Gray".  We doubt he even read the book to know what to poke fun at, and we're pretty sure he is aware that his audience, the average WZBH listener, not only hasn't read the book, but only has a vague idea what the book is about.  "50 Shades of Gray" is not a Barbie and Ken type pop icon everyone is familiar with. 

He couldn't be making fun of gay people because he simply read an excerpt from a book.  He must've been making fun of Sylvester the Cat and adolescents who still think "steak sandwich" is a funny euphemism.  After several beers, that is the only explanation we could come up with. 

Given WZBH's past record of gay bashing (remember the real man quips?), the station would be best to leave the gay jokes and parodies to the professionals on other stations who can tastefully pull it off.  Phoebus (as well as Crank and JJ) need to lose their fascination with everything gay.  It's getting as old and stale as Phoebus' latest skit.

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