Down and Out

I long to be a person for whom the glass is always half-full. Sometimes, in weak moments, I wish I could be like Ben Affleck, who willfully signed Gigli's dotted line even though it meant playing a thug who becomes a better person by screwing a lesbian and helping a retarded boy get laid. Or even Liza Minnelli, who can look at an aging, effeminate, surgery-enhanced eunuch and hear wedding bells ring. But something in me always sees the disaster ahead.

I mention this because I feel a trembling in the air that suggests the queerification of American culture is headed for a severe backlash. Yes, the gays of wine and roses are coming to an end. Oh, I know that gym-stud couple Chip and Reichen won The Amazing Race, that Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is still busy moussing harried heteros, and that ABC's new fall sitcom It's All Relative shows us just what side-splitting havoc can ensue for two young lovers when his Irish-Catholic parents meet her two gay dads. Oh, the fun we're having. Mark my words, thoughthe straight kids are coming back.

I say "coming back," because this is how the backlash will startwith the idea that the good ol' boys are in need of a return to the power that they never lost. Just as surely as the Bush forces will be busy selling us on the idea that a second Dubya term is inevitable, a lot of men will start rallying against their nonexistent emasculation. A lot of men will rise up and say, "Hey! I'm straight, dammit, and I'm OK!" A lot of men will start acting as though having a handful of queens on network television means that monster truck rallies will soon be outlawed. I'm still in the fetal position from the Queer Eye's Jay Leno makeover, mind you, but I'm allowed: I think the people who should be most troubled by such mincing exploitation are other mincers.

Yes, the darkness is creeping upon us. A recent Wall Street Journal piecewritten by some feral regular joe named Lionel Tiger, no lessused Queer Eye as an excuse to launch into a discussion of the "assault on heteromales" that is apparently stripping straight men of all confidence. Mr. Tiger, a liberated thinker also responsible for some treatise called The Decline of Males, also speaks of our devastatingly "feminized school system" (talk to me after you've experienced high-school P.E., Tiger).

And has anyone else noticed that beer commercials are, now more than ever, about the God given right to bang a couple of bikinied twins? I thought those Yoplait ads, where that group of women gets tingly over a couple of spoonfuls of yogurt, were pretty terrifying, but is anything more monstrous than Coors' "guys night out" commercials, in which we learn that sometimes guys just need a break from all that sissy stuff real life puts on 'em?

Jimmy Kimmel, long my favorite symbol of the approaching zeitgeist, will be King of All Media if things keep going this way. It's interesting that ABC is digging in its heels where Kimmel is concerned: His late-night talk show isn't doing particularly wellthe last time I checked in with Jimmy, his headliner was ALF, a puppet from a sitcom canceled over 10 years agobut clearly the network is confident his time will come. And they're probably right.

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