GLAAD Defies Jodie Foster, Nominates 'Honey Boo Boo' for an Award

The Atlantic

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, known commonly to friends and enemies a GLAAD, has announced the list of nominees for its annual Media Awards. On that list, next to the usual stuff — queer-lite fantasia Glee, sexlessly domestic Modern Family — is, under the "Outstanding Reality Program" category, an episode of TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. As in, the reality show about a wacky Southern family, which actress Jodie Foster, in a coming out-ish speech during Sunday night's Golden Globe Awards, jokingly cited as the antithesis of her approach to the public world. Alana, the strange little pageant girl at the show's center, is almost ritualistically on display, a child preening for camera attention. Foster, bumbling around a contemporary pop culture reference, said "I'm not Honey Boo Boo child" to emphasize how highly she values her own privacy. Some folks thought Foster, herself a child star, was being unfair, insulting a kid in such a public venue, while others thought the comparison was apt. Either way, while Foster might not dig Honey Boo Boo and what the show stands for, GLAAD sure seems to.

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The newly nominated episode is "It Is What It Is," which featured, among other things, a visit from Alana's "Uncle Poodle," an openly gay man actually named Lee (Alana calls gay men "Poodles"). In the episode, Lee, who recently revealed that he is HIV positive, comes over to help Alana with some new pageant moves. Alana tells the camera in an interview segment, "Ain't nothin' wrong with being a little gay. Everybody's a little gay." The rest of the family seems just as welcoming and matter-of-fact about Uncle Poodle as Alana is, which is why, we suspect, GLAAD put the show on its list. Or, y'know, they just wanted some blog-y attention for their awards, and bestowing accolades upon Here Comes Honey Boo Boo was one transparent, surefire way to get it.

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So, whether the gay community at large agrees or disagrees with the tenor of Foster's speech on Sunday, or if anyone really takes Foster's plea for privacy while citing Honey Boo Boo to heart, both entities are oddly occupying something of the same cultural space this week. Sure, GLAAD might just be trying to drum up attention by nominating such a sensationalized show for such an arguably serious award (they certainly intend it to be serious), but it's still on the same bigger list as How to Survive a Plague and Jon Stewart's interview with Bishop Gene Robinson. So maybe Foster doesn't agree with the spectacle of Honey Boo Boo as a whole, but might she nod her head in approval at the celebration of Uncle Poodle? It's a complicated world, folks.

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