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Kathy Griffin, Lesbian Predator

March 6, 2010

Oh, the kiss that could have been.

Or, the kiss that was, and was cut. Wednesday night, the much anticipated episode of Law and Order: SVU where Kathy Griffin guest-stars as lesbians rights activist Babs Duffy made its debut minus the notorious kiss between Griffin and SVU detective Olivia Benson. I guess I didn’t get the memo (via Griffin’s twitter last week) that the kiss had been cut, but, to be honest, I am really glad it was. But first, I’d like to offer a little back story on the episode:

A patrol officer finds a woman’s body in a dark storefront and the SVU team believes it had something to do with this vampire heavy metal dude. It turned out to be a false lead, but perhaps the most hilarious/ridiculous one ever, but I digress. Back at square one, and with no idea of who the dead woman is, the detectives get a visit from a bunch of silent women holding the a poster of the woman’s face. The woman, it seems, is one of a number of victims of attacks against lesbians. From there one, it’s an endless parade of worn-out stereotypes of lesbians and the lesbian community, some so bad they verge on categorically absurd. Let’s just jump right in, shall we? As an aside, I’ll try not to give away too much.

THE RAD

  • Babs Duffy (Griffin) talks all sorts of shit to Detective Eliot Stabler, who totally deserves it. At one point, Stabler “[has] a tough time keeping up with political correctness.” Duffy replies, “Really, all I’m getting from you is your piss-poor patriarchal attitude so take it down a notch, Jack Webb.”
  • Duffy also refers to the “dominant heteronormative paradigm” and that was pretty awesome.
  • In a way, it’s pretty cool that the episode made light of domestic violence between same-sex partners, an issue that doesn’t get a lot of mainstream attention
  • It’s also sorta cool that the episode highlighted violence against LGBTQQ folks
  • Plenty of the lesbians on the episode were not stereotypical, at least a lot more than you might expect from a show that draws so heavily on stereotypes of subcultures (have you ever seen the one where Benson goes undercover with “eco-terrorists” in Oregon?!) …..

THE BAD

  • …. But many of them were: the angry, militant lesbian who wears a leather jacket and beats up men was a notable one
  • Stabler’s “devil’s advocate” shtick got old really fast. He quickly turned into a homophobic and sexist asshole. At one point, he says the he and Benson should take care to not cause a scene at a lesbian rally because “the natives are already restless”
  • Apparently, the activist group Griffin’s character Duffy leads only cares about the rights of lesbians, and this is a big problem for all of the police officers working on the case. As viewers, we’re supposed to think the same thing, which is why, at the end, Duffy learns her lesson.

THE SAD

Worst of all though, goes back to the original kissing (or lack thereof) incident. The entire time, Griffin’s character Babs unabashedly hits on the women of the SVU. It did little but produce this “icky” factor and reinforce the idea that lesbians are nothing more than their sexual orientation and are out to prey on any woman that steps in their way. What’s more, the portrayal of lesbians in the show is clearly coming from the gaze of straight America- the show evokes the feeling that straight women should stay away from lesbians lest your sexual orientation be put into question, and straight men should stay away from lesbians lest your manhood be put into question. The context of the scene where Benson and Duffy (were going to) kiss puts the two of them alone in Duffy’s apartment, with Benson guarding her for protection against the rapist attacking lesbians. Benson is comforting her in an obviously difficult situation, which Duffy misreads and goes in for a kiss. Moments after rejecting her, Benson switches shifts with another young, attractive officer, but not before warning the other officer about the sexual aggressiveness she may face. This scene was obviously added for comic effect and shock value, but all it really does is play into the same old worn-out stereotypes aggressive, sexually-charged lesbians.

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