If you think this makes sense, dear reader, you, too, have lost your mind. The same Amazon.com is also releasing a new 10-part Web series called “Transparent,” about a 70-year-old father of three who decides he’s a woman named Maura. There are no content warnings for this. There is only progressive euphoria. TV critics and the wider media are falling all over themselves expressing glory and praise for this cultural landmark.
Willa Paskin at the liberal website Slate is a perfect example. “To call it Amazon’s first great series, or the only great series of the new fall season — both of which are true — is to damn it with faint praise.”
Let’s put aside the notion of art — whether the acting or screenwriting is effective — and dwell on reality. Art really doesn’t matter. Getting the cultural politics right are the alpha and the omega here. It’s about paying homage to the ongoing LGBT cultural revolution. It’s a show that had to be made in a way to thrill the professional Transgender Lobby, or Big Trans. It needed the imprimatur of gender-denying political correctness, and it got it.
Jennifer (formerly James) Boylan, the first transgender co-chair of the board of directors of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is a consultant to the show. So are Rhys Ernst and Zackary Drucker, who have been celebrated in the art world as a couple who’ve both “transitioned,” an ersatz man and an ersatz woman, or “trans superstars,” as they were called in The New York Times. They declared in the Times that their goal is to “surpass” the outdated binaries of gender altogether: “That would be the greatest transition of all.”
Jeffrey Tambor, the actor playing the lead character of Mort (and “Maura”) Pfefferman, told the enraptured hosts at NBC’s “Today” that “I was throw-up nervous pretty much all the way, really. It’s a huge responsibility. But I had great consultants from the trans community.” He announced, “It’s the most transformative role I’ve ever played. I’m really honored.”
The New York Times profiled series creator Jill Soloway and championed how her show “tries to fast-forward past the incremental water-testing that network TV has historically applied to shifts like this, to skip the eggshell-walking and the audience-coddling. She wants to give her viewers a fully realized trans character.” Their headline also underlined the political goal: “Can Jill Soloway Do Justice to the Trans Movement?”
It turns out there is a ton of eggshell-walking here, toward the forces of political correctness. That Times story emphasizes that Soloway finds “precision about language, politics and etiquette is ever-present in the cultural milieu.” It began with Soloway perusing GLAAD’s list of talking points, of phrases to avoid in the press, like “gay marriage,” as if that’s different from marriage.
Inspired by GLAAD, Soloway made her bathrooms on the set gender-neutral, because she wants the set to be “different from the rest of the world, a sanctuary where all are welcome.” She also enacted a “transfirmative action program” — hiring transgenders whenever possible in her production.
Hollywood loves to paint itself as rebellious, but more and more, it succumbs to a rigid orthodoxy. It’s gone from enforcing the Hays Code to enforcing the Gays Code.
Our advice to the owners of “Tom and Jerry”? Announce it’s really a “transfirmative action” cartoon.