Billy Crystal: Gay Scenes On TV Are “Pushing It Too Far”
Billy Crystal, who famously played a groundbreaking gay character on the 1970s series “Soap,” is at the center of controversy after saying gay scenes on current television shows are “pushing it a little too far.” The entertainer made the comments on Sunday, during a Television Critics Association event for his upcoming series “The Comedians.”
The star is quoted as saying of certain TV portrayals of gay stories, “Sometimes I think, ‘Ah that’s too much for me’… Sometimes, it’s just pushing it a little too far for my taste, and I’m not going to reveal to you which ones they are.” He added, “I hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face… to the point where it feels like an every day kind of thing.”
Crystal portrayed the gay Jodie Dallas on “Soap.” He told reporters on Sunday, “It was very difficult at the time. Jodie was really the first recurring [gay] character on network television and it was a different time, it was 1977. So, yeah, it was awkward. It was tough.”
The response to Dallas was mixed and often homophobic. Crystal recalled, “I did it in front of a live audience, and there were times when I would say to [Dennis Phillips, Dallas’ boyfriend, played by Bob Seagren], ‘I love you,’ and the audience would laugh nervously. I wanted to stop the taping and go, ‘What is your problem?’” Crystal stopped short of saying exactly what elements or scenes made him uncomfortable.
In a statement released Monday, Crystal clarified his remarks. “What I meant was that whenever sex or graphic nudity of any kind (gay or straight) is gratuitous to the plot or story it becomes a little too much for my taste,” he said. What do you think?