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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
In case anyone is interested in any of my past posts, an archive list can be found at the bottom of this page.
My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Wednesday, December 30

New Norm Sex

Amazing how far we’ve come in the last decade in our attitudes about sex and sexuality, especially as reflected in our books, our television shows and films. Our 19th century Puritanism prohibited language in our books that was then considered too Anglo-Saxon, too risqué, too explicitly vulgar. Even as late as 1951, J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye was banned from most high schools because the word “fuck” was there for the world to see when young, innocent Phoebe saw it on a graffitied wall. There were other reasons for the book’s being banned, but the language is most often mentioned as the cause. Writers for the rest of the 20th century continued to contest linguistic barriers, and now we have virtually no literary restrictions on how sexual acts can be described. And the same freedoms have become the norm in films. Commercial television is still catching up but will soon be as explicit visually and linguistically as films and the liberated tv networks already are. Who knows if this trend is good or bad? I think it reflects a new freedom that may allow us finally to see ourselves as we really are—hetero-, homo-, bi-, trans-, . . . whatever. Sticks and stones, as the saying goes, but words and images can never harm us. I still cringe a bit at all the Viagra and Cialis commercials on the tube, but that’s only because I’m old and still remember how prudish we all were back when I was a young man.

Several nights ago we watched for the first time the Netflix original series, Grace and Frankie, with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda as the two women of the title, Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen as their husbands. And after forty years of marriage, the two men, partners in a law firm, have decided they’re in love and want to be partners in bed as well as in law. They want divorces so they can have a same-sex marriage. Funny people (especially the always funny Lily Tomlin), funny situation. But only a few years ago, such a show could never have been made. And most of us certainly wouldn’t have been amused by two men kissing each other on-screen, let alone what they might be doing in bed. But in 2010, paving the way for same-sex marriage, we had The Kids Are All Right, with Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and ark Ruffalo.
And the kids as well as most viewers were all right with that. Even earlier, in 2005, we had Brokeback Mountain, with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal as cowboy lovers. But ten years ago male homosexuality on-screen wasn’t so readily accepted. But it was a start. And now we have Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of a man transgendered to a woman in The Danish Girl and Jeffrey Tambor’s portrayal of a similar switch in Transparent, the Amazon series. In real life, we heard Bruce Jenner’s announcement that he wanted to become Caitlyn Jenner, and most of us applauded his decision. Most viewers have accepted these portrayals by Redmayne and Tambor, and critics are raving. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are also receiving accolades for their roles as lesbian lovers in Carol. Viewers have accepted it, critics rave. It’s the new norm in language and sexual orientation. You can accept it or deny it, but it’s here, and it’s here to stay.
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