It's never much of a shock when a state legislator indulges in some gay-hating--the state doesn't even matter, because state districts are so small that some manner of bigotry is bound to not only be acceptable, but applauded. This particular case is from Florida, which is why I clicked through to the story, but it could have been from anywhere.
Stephen Precourt isn't all that unusual--he's a white-bread Republican from the middle of the state with a really limited view of US history. Some background: Florida lawmakers are trying to pass a $75 million incentive package to lure more filmmakers to the state. We already have a program that offers an additional 2% tax break if studios make "family-friendly" programming (which screams Disney giveaway to me, but whatever), but this package would modify that provision.
Family-friendly productions are those that have cross-generational appeal; would be considered suitable for viewing by children age 5 or older…and do not exhibit or imply any act of smoking, sex, nudity, nontraditional family values, gratuitous violence, or vulgar or profane language.Think Progress is focusing on the "nontraditional family values" part of the legislation, since that basically means "no gay allowed" in today's construction, and because, when asked, Precourt said he thought shows with gay characters "would not be the kind of thing I’d say that we want to invest public dollars in.” But notice what else Precourt said he thought the legislation meant.
State representative Stephen Precourt, whose district includes Disney World, says the purpose of the credit is to encourage movies to depict cinematic life from the 1960s. “Think of it as like Mayberry,” Precourt told the Palm Beach Post News. “That’s when I grew up — the ’60s. That’s what life was like. I want Florida to be known for making those kinds of movies: Disney movies for kids and all that stuff. Like it used to be, you know?”Now, if Precourt is talking about encouraging Disney to go back to making movies like the ones they made in the 60's, well, that's not going to happen. There's stuff on the Disney Channel or ABC Family now which wouldn't get a G rating then, and a 2% tax break won't cover the box-office beatdown Disney would get if they tried to release a new version of "The Apple Dumpling Gang" without spicing it up a little.
But if Precourt is suggesting that the values in the Disney movies or Mayberry of that time were a reflection of real life, well, that's not true. It's not even true if you were a white male with money, though it was closer. What that period was known for more than anything was that facades were important, that the everything was okay as long as it looked okay, and never mind the festering illness beneath. Domestic abuse, racial tensions--Disney and Mayberry didn't have those problems, but the rest of the country did. In Mayberry, white men ran everything and whatever problems cropped up were taken care of with a grin and a handshake and a very-important-lesson learned. No wonder Precourt would like the movies to reflect that world--it would make life so much easier for him.
But for most people in the US today, our society is far friendlier to families than it was then. Women can leave bad or abusive relationships without being shunned by society as a fallen woman. Inter-racial relationships and families aren't considered a big deal anymore, much less an affront to all that is good and proper. And yes, quel horreur! gay couples not only live together openly, but sometimes they raise children--they're families. What's happened is that our idea of family has evolved, and that's made the situation better for everyone, yes, even for the traditional patriarch, because it's taken some of the pressure off him to be this ideal that he could never live up to before.