Sunday, April 25, 2010
Shame On Shame On Shame
"I said not to think about it. Think about something else." -Hank Hill
America has sex issues. If we didn't, there wouldn't be such a loud gay community. Don't misinterpret that now. I'm glad they're loud. Very glad. Even though I'm not gay, I believe that the pride parades are an essential part of loosening this country up. They're fighting for homosexual freedoms, but in a much larger sense the gay movement represents our desire for the overall sexual freedom of the entire U.S..
There's still a lot of repression leftover from our Puritan days, and it's separating us from the rest of the modern world. Evangelicals come together to vote down bills that could make homosexual marriage legal. But why? They would answer that it's because homosexuality has been the destruction of every great nation in history. If our government allows homosexual freedom, our mighty nation will crumble (y'know, like Sodom and Gomorrah). This is the belief. I grew up with this belief. And I said the word "faggot" without sarcasm. Of course, this was all before I saw King of the Hill.
In the second episode of the very first season, "Square Peg" satirizes the deep fear of sexual openness in America. Called to substitute teach a sex education class at the local junior high, Peggy Hill must learn "the vocabulary" for the first time in her life: Penis. Uterus. Vagina. But the problem is that she can't say any of these words out loud. She stutters until she quits. And her husband doesn't even want her to try. "You're dealing with body parts that people just don't wanna know about!" Hank yells. The episode strikes at the issue with such exaggeration, even the most stalwart conservative will have to laugh out loud at the tightwad Texans.
Once Peggy is finally able to trick herself into saying the word ("happiness." "hap-piness." "ha...penis" "...penis!"), she becomes excited. With her own son signed up to take the sex ed class, Peggy assures Hank that it will be a good idea to teach him the basics of the human reproductive system. "We don't want Bobby growing up as repressed as we were," she argues. "Sure we do!" screams Hank.
And herein lies our deep, sad problem. Christian America DOES want to remain repressed. It's a painful irony, the very thing that's killing us is the thing we believe is our salvation. We don't want education, we just want to feign abstinence. And so, politicians and sports stars cheat on their wives, sex sells White Castle sliders, priests touch altar boys, and Fred Phelps, Fred Phelps, Fred Phelps. All of these problems are a result of America's withheld repression. We've got a death-grip on it. We'd rather "don't ask, don't tell" than deal with our own sexual nature. Just because a couple Bible verses are taken out of context, America has officially made homosexuals out to be the most oppressed people in the nation.
There isn't only a fear of homosexuality (Hank on Bobby: "the boy ain't right."), but a fear of sexuality altogether. Mike Judge found a brilliant metaphor for America's sexual narrow-mindedness--Hank's narrow urethra. It's one of the most recurring jokes on King of the Hill, but not until tonight did I realize what exactly Mike Judge meant by it. Hank is almost impotent. He is obsessed with stereotypical manhood (football, power tools, stoicism, etc.), but cannot even talk to his own son about safe sex. He wants to be a man, but he doesn't want his sexuality to have anything to do with it. This cruel joke works so well, it lasts 13 seasons. If Hank ever discovered that sexuality was a normal, healthy part of human life, his character would cease to be.
As much as I've laughed at Mike Judge's satire of sexual idiocy (also see: Extract), I think it's about time we stop the nonsense. It starts with the kids, just as the "Square Peg" episode indicates. Humans must be educated to embrace their sexuality. Otherwise, it'll just be another generation of sexual creatures pretending that they're not. The more we insist that sex is evil, the more we'll see abortion, pornography, rape and infidelity persist in America. Can we please make an effort to differentiate between "privacy" and "dirty secrets"? Just because we enjoy something behind closed doors with our lover doesn't mean we should be ashamed of it. Let's take pride in our sexual freedom. We don't have to become amateur porn stars, we just have to do what we're inclined to do. There's nothing wrong with that. A tree grows branches naturally, but humans can cut them off until the trunk is bare. I'm done cutting. I want America to branch out healthily and happily.
Enough with the sexual narrow-mindedness. Let's widen that urethra.