Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Review of IN THE LIFE

I was given the opportunity to preview the January IN THE LIFE episode. I was familiar with the name, but had never watched the show.

I enjoyed the wide range of topics covered in the episode, even though I wasn't particularly interested in all of the segments. The segment least appealing to me, a story about gay and lesbian hip hop artists, still contained some interesting moments. I greatly enjoyed several of the topics.

I was very glad to see the coverage of religious topics: the continuing schism in the Anglican /Episcopalian community and look at the documentary For The Bible Tells Me So (reviewed elsewhere in this blog and available for pre-order at Amazon - check it out in my store). I was choked up over the director of FTBTMS relating that after he had done a story on gays and lesbians reclaiming the truth of the Bible (on a previous episdoe of ITL), a 15 year old boy wrote in to say "I bought the gun last week. I wrote the note to my mom yesterday. After seeing your show, I threw the gun in the river." This, people is the REAL price of the religious right - of hatred disguised as Biblical truth - human life.

I only wish more time had been devoted to these segments; they are worth even exploration.

I certainly appreciated the approach to the uncovered angle on the Larry Craig story: the entrapment and harrassment of gay men by police. Crag's story is not just a warning of what a closeted life can do to you, but that government sanctioned persecution of homosexuals is, unfortunately, still just as alive and well since the 50's. The segment very briefly touches on the idea of how the media perpetuates stereotypes of gay men as predatory sex-fiends in the way they cover such stories, ignoring both that heterosexuals also conduct such public sex acts, just as the police also do because the real issue is not curtailing public sex, but thinly veiled homophobia. I would love ITL to follow up on these threads in future shows.

My only real criticism of the show is that the segments were just too short. They gave a quick touch or overview of the story, but didn't have enough length to go into any depth. The entrapment piece I thought was the most fleshed out piece and still more could have been done with that. I appreciate the variety in the show, but personally would love to see episodes with fewer segments that go into more detail and examination of their subject. The upside to the format is that there is bound to be something for almost everyone in a given episode.

I thought the mix of serious topics with lighter, but still serious examinations of facets of pop culture was a nice touch. For instance, the coverage of photographer Gerald Mocarsky was entertaining for the look at his evokative photography of men dancing with men that also touched on issues of internalized homophobia and societal perceptions of men.

I would defnitely recommend watching IN THE LIFE, it's well worth your time. The press release for the January show and the link to their website so that you can catch episodes can be found below.


IN THE LIFE Kicks-off the New Year with Margaret Cho

NEW YORK, December 14, 2007 – IN THE LIFE – the three-time Emmy-nominated series documenting the people and issues shaping the gay experience – kicks off the New Year with a brand new January episode featuring controversial comic, Margaret Cho, going head-to-head with lesbian comic Kate Clinton on everything from ice-truckers to the Senator Larry Craig scandal. “It’s the year of the sorry-old-queen,” says Cho, “a queen who has no piano bar to go to.”

This month’s IN THE LIFE will explore “entrapment” through the lens of the Senator Craig media wildfire, as well as delve into stories on gay rappers, a photo-essay on men who dance with men, update the October’s season premiere story, “A Church Divided,” and look at past IN THE LIFE producer Dan Karslake’s documentary, "For the Bible Tells Me So."

In “A Church Divided,” IN THE LIFE examined the growing schism within the Anglican Communion over homosexuality and traditional biblical interpretation. As an update, IN THE LIFE continues to track the battle between conservative and progressive churches. Keeping in that theme, this month’s IN THE LIFE “Real to Reel” looks at the question, what does the bible say about homosexuality? In Dan Karslake’s documentary, "For the Bible Tells Me So" he takes on that question.

Gerald Mocarsky is a photographer, who – even as a gay man – felt uncomfortable with looking at "Men Who Dance With Men." Through that photo-essay, Mocarsky not only tells the story of coming to terms with himself, but how he came to see that capturing the beauty, story and language between these men was a step forward toward social acceptance.Rap is often criticized for promoting violence, objectifying women and being homophobic. It might surprise many to know there's an emerging generation of gay rappers, like Shorty Roc and Kin, who are countering that image head-on, and demonstrating that “one love” includes everyone.

Our final story, “Wide Stance,” examines the Senator Craig scandal and public sex. There exists a world-on-the-margin, where gay and closeted men – some of them married – meet in public spaces for sexual encounters. There's been widespread condemnation for Senator Craig's actions, from both gay and mainstream media. But there's an angle of this story that's been largely glossed-over. IN THE LIFE takes an unflinching historical look at public sex through the lens of Craig's defense: entrapment.

Viewers can watch IN THE LIFE, of see when it airs in their area by going to:

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