Friday, August 17, 2007

Life after Merv

At the risk of making my blog read like an obituary page, you'll notice I didn't give Merv Griffin an "In Memoriam" post. Actually, I only do those posts for people I like. Although I missed Beverly Sills, but that was because I was having computer drama, not because I don't like her. (Don't take it personally, Bubbles.) But as for Merv, I've been mulling over the decision on whether or not I like him.

I am a bit too young to really remember his show as anything but an adult talk show, over my head when it was in its heyday. But what would life be without Jeopardy (a show I still watch daily) not to mention the Jeopardy theme song? And would American pop-culture be quite the same without Pat and Vanna? While these are important (ahem) contributions to Americana, one wonders what the face of our struggle for human rights in the gay community or the treatment of AIDS might have looked like if Merv Griffin, whose gay lifestyle was an unspoken "secret" in both private and public circles, might have used his considerable money and power in those areas. But sadly, he remained silent. Ironically The Merv Griffin Show served as a prototype and its closeted homosexual host, a mentor, to such talk show successes as Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres, two out, proud lesbians.

Apparently, I'm a not alone with my mixed feelings about Merv. Joe.My.God also wrote a post that more succinctly expresses both my views and his on the subject. Click here to read his post.

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At 4:30 PM, Blogger Y | O | Y said...

I wonder how many like him are still in the closet?

I luv me some Jeopardy, too!

At 9:08 PM, Blogger MiKell said...

I did not read Joe's post, as I have a personal aversion to his site.

However, I do not understand our need to force our life choices on others. Merv was (probably) gay. We'll never know since he never said one way or the other. But he never hurt anyone by not saying so, did he? I don't remember anyone judging James Dean or Rock Hudson for the same reason.

I'm bothered by our community judging others by higher standards than we hold ourselves to.

At 4:02 AM, Blogger T said...

i was on College Jeopardy.

At 1:16 PM, Blogger Palm Springs Savant said...

I understand what you mean, and i would never make excuses for his choices. BUT, I will say that everyone has their own journey through life, and not all gay people wish to be part of the gay community. I had the good fortune to know him through various events I attended. He was extremely supportive of good causes here in the Palm Springs area, and was generous as well. In some ways I think he was just part of that generation that didn't acknowledge being gay. I remember an episode when Liberace was on the Merv Griffin show, and they were having an inside joke with the entire dialoge. Merv asked Liberace: "So Lee, how come you never married?" And Liberace looked back at Merv and said: "Well Merv, I guess I just havn't met the right girl yet". Can you imagine? Anyway, a giant in the industry for sure. I know we'll miss Merv here in the valley.

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Mikell, the point is that he potentially did hurt people by remaining silent when issues came up in the gay community that he had the money and the power to affect positively, but instead chose not to. The fact that he never identified with the gay community speaks to a deeper, generational self-loathing around his sexuality. So perhaps his journey never took him that far before his death, and that is truly sad but not entirely his fault. He was a victim of the times.
James Dean and Rock Hudson were never in the position of money or power that Griffin was in, and certainly both of their untimely deaths prevented them from ever even having the chance.
More appropriate analogies might be drawn between people like David Geffin or Elton John--both of whom use their considerable money and power for positive change in the gay community.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger Matt said...

I have to admit I'm a little on the fence with this. Yes, people who are powerful and in the public eye are the ones most able to make an impact with coming out and making positive statements about the gay community. But just because someone is powerful/public/rich/AND gay, does that automatically make them a spokesman? Sure, it would be nice, but somehow I'm a little uneasy with that additional label/job description being slapped onto them. I would be much more supportive of a celebrity championing gay rights and extolling the virtues of our community if that's what they truly WANTED to do. Not just because it was assumed that they had to.

Michael, I SO totally understand where you're coming from, I just can't completely agree. I hope you know I'm agreeing to disagree in a very friendly, respectful way.


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