Friday, May 21, 2010

Thoughts on Mad Men, Newsweek, and Jeffery Dahmer

I haven't blogged in over a week and I'm not exactly sure why. I've been busy, but perhaps not doing the most productive things (meaning I've been drinking a lot, dancing a lot, tipping drag queens a lot, and participating in various other devious activities). The purpose of this blog post is to get me back on track and to share my random thoughts from the last week or two that might have become post on their own if I had made the time.

First up: Mad Men. I just finished watching the third season, and I was absolutely blown away. I greatly enjoyed season one of the show, but I was less impressed with season two. Three goes above and beyond and has quickly become my favorite of the series. What I love about Mad Men is its authenticity. The show is so real and part of that realness is a rather slow and steady progression. The storylines do not move at rapid paces, yet the characters are so intriguing and beautifully written and acted that you can't help but be swept away into this world of cocktails and amazing fashion.

Dustin will probably not agree, but my favorite character on the show is Betty (no big shocker there). January Jones plays the role like no other. Her awkwardness and facial expressions are priceless, and in season three Betty gets some really great scenes. Her role could easily become a walking cliche and yet it hasn't, which is a great accomplishment. I'm also madly in love with Don Draper and would have his babies if possible, but that's another story and another post.

In other news, Newsweek decided to come out and tell the world that gay actors can't, convincingly, play straight characters. This article is absolutely absurd and has caused quite an uproar in the acting community and the gay community. The argument is so weakly put together that you would think one of my students wrote it. The author is really saying that once he knows an actor is openly gay, he can no longer believe their acting, which means if you are in the closet it isn't an issue. This sounds like a personal problem. The last thing we need is more people encouraging gay actors to stay in the closet (that closet can't hold many more). Acting is acting. If you are good at it, your personal life should make no difference. There have been many fine actors who were gay and played excellent straight roles. My favorite part of this story is that Kristin Chenoweth wrote a fantastic response to Newsweek, and who doesn't love Kristin Chenoweth? I follow her on Twitter.

My last thought and accomplishment of the last two weeks is that I am nearly done (or as close to done as I might ever be) with my long documentary poem about Jeffery Dahmer. It is thirteen pages and entitled "An Experiment in How to Become Someone Else Who isn't Moving Anymore." It is a huge accomplishment because I've never written a poem of this length. I also have never done this much research for a poem. I wanted it to be very accurate, and everything about Jeffery Dahmer that is in the poem is true to my knowledge.

The poem weaves information about Jeffery Dahmer with parts of my own life (or a version of my life) as well as pieces about Reginald Shepherd who was a gay poet who died in 2008 and wrote a poem about Dahmer entitled "Hygiene." I actually got my brilliant title for my poem from his poem. Why these three things? Well, Dahmer's first two victims were named Steven, he was gay and only killed gay men, and he lived in the Midwest. Obviously, my name is Stephen, I'm gay, and I grew up in the Midwest. As for Shepherd, I saw him do a reading in 2006, and I taught his poem about Dahmer at FSU and always loved it.

Dahmer is a fascinating person to examine. He was not a typical serial killer. There is something sympathetic and valuable about him and his story that most people don't know. The average person thinks of Dahmer and thinks that he ate people. He did taste the flesh of some of his victims, but that wasn't his main focus or goal. In the poem, I purposely only mention the cannibalism once. Overall, the poem is possibly my favorite I've ever written. The challenge now is figuring out what to do with it. Most magazines don't take poems of this length, and it is not quite long enough for a chapbook. Regardless, it is written, and it has challenged me and changed me for the better.

-Stephen (Guilty Blogger)

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the Newsweek hubbub: First off, I LOVE Kristen Chenoweth! (No big surprise there) My favorite response to the article was from Michael Urie, who played Marc on Ugly Betty. He is also on Broadway with the Tempermentals, where he plays a gay Austrian designer. He said, "Look, I'm not from f**king Vienna!" Btw, that Newsweek article particularly mentions Jonathan Groff from Glee and I didn't even know he was gay until the article came out!

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