Wednesday, May 27, 2009

And now, for something completely different...

In case you were wondering what the big deal is about the normalization of racial and ethnic diversity in pop culture, reflect on this: President Obama's nominee for the next vacant seat on the Supreme Court is Sonia Sotomayor.  Sonia Sotomayor is a woman. She is Puerto Rican. I did not think I'd see a nomination such as this one in my lifetime.

A move such as this one can only be made when the world is ready for it and, sometimes, the human beings have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of readiness. Popular culture is a vehicle by which transitions can be made more quickly and with less pain. Feature Hispanics on sitcoms, in the world of music, on the stage...and the next thing you know, it's not such a big deal to see Hispanics as teachers, doctors, authors and, yes, Supreme Court nominees.

It's like this with anything. If television is the modern day opiate of the masses, it follows suit that it can have a lasting effect on how people see the world, and what they come to consider normal or acceptable.  Will and Grace was not exactly Ibsen, but it got a lot of people who foolishly believed that they didn't know any homosexuals to sit down for 30 minutes at a time, and watch a show featuring homosexual characters. Some of them probably watched long enough to get used to the idea that a homosexual isn't the other, but their lawyer, or their best friend, their sibling, or their annoying neighbor. 

On the same day Obama nominated Sotomayor, the California Supreme Court decided to uphold Proposition 8, which states that marriage is a union that can only exist between a man and a woman. How disappointing. It points to the fact that we need, more than ever, for pop culture to bat for our team.  

Otalia has already gone a long way towards normalizing the concepts of same-sex love and domesticity for so many people. From actress Crystal Chappell's blog

Regarding the Otalia story, I've heard from fans from all over the world and varying belief systems, who've said their hearts and minds have opened to new or different ideas. And, recognize the common thread amongst all of us, love. Asking interesting questions: Where do we find hope? What is real love? What does it look like? What is a family? What is happiness? True joy? It's been inspirational for me to hear such great words.

Imagine that! A little, old love story on a soap opera changing the way people think about the real world they live in, and the real people they live with!  A soap actress blogging about the common threads that hold us together, and welcoming a challenge of the status quo! Who'da thunk it?

Congratulations, Sonia Sotomayor! Here's to forever challenging the status quo.

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