Does “Life On Mars” Encourage Homophobia? Also: Women Love Gene Hunt.

Philip Glenister's DCI Gene Hunt character on Life On Mars is a gruff, bigoted man's man who shoots first and asks questions later. He may not have been out of place in 1970s, but some media watchdogs suggest he may not be ready for primetime in 2007. Chris Keates, General Secretary for Britain's National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, singles out a line in Life On Mars' series finale, in which Hunt calls a colleague a "fairy boy." From The Independent:

"This program could have had a detrimental impact on young people's behaviour. I don't think it is an issue of saying, 'Take it off the air,'" Ms. Keates said.

"There is still a prevalence of homophobic bullying and bullying people on the basis of their body image. There is still a feeling that this is only a bit of fun and that's what school is like."

Ms. Keates added: "If you get abusive terms like 'fairy boy', that's particularly worrying in a context where our evidence is saying that one of the factors which causes young people to consider suicide is the fact that schools fail to stop homophobic bullying."

The BBC issued this statement:

The fictional character of DCI Hunt is an extreme, tongue-in-cheek take on a stereotypical 1970s bloke and the audience understand and revel in his direct approach to his job and life in general. Life On Mars is a post-watershed production, aimed at an adult audience. However, as with many dramatisations, we do not condone the actions of many of our fictional characters."

The spokeswoman will get no argument from The Daily Telegraph's Glenda Cooper, who unapologetically admits to a major crush on the misogynistic Hunt character. Why? Because he's more straightforward than today's mealymouthed nancy boys:

In a world where we analyze and over-analyze what men say and what they mean, Hunt's trenchant utterances leave no room for ambiguity ("Don't move – you are surrounded by armed bastards"). He cuts through Tyler's 21st-century, politically correct pseudo-babble to expose the nonsense we can end up speaking (Tyler: "I think we need to explore the chance this was a hate crime." Hunt: "What? As opposed to one of those ''I really, really like you murders?'').

So whaddya say? Does Gene Hunt make you hot? I'll refrain from mentioning some of the girlish swooning I've seen on some of the BBC AMERICA boards in regards to the DCI's big "packy."

Also: Jon Carroll of San Francisco Chronicle asks why Sacha Baron Cohen gets off scot-free for his anti-Semitic humor while Don Imus's racist comments cost him his job. "Sacha Baron Cohen gets a free pass at least in part because his movie made $260 million worldwide, with DVD revenues still to come. Even people who were humiliated in the movie are now trying to be good sports because clearly the culture has said: You're wrong and he's right. Also, remember, Cohen is himself an observant Jew. Now tell me why that's important."

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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