In a sentiment that has not been expressed in approximately three decades, Billy Crystal caused some excitement yesterday, when remarks he made at the TCAs were interpreted as being potentially anti-gay. Crystal was appearing on an FX panel for his new series The Comedians, when clearly bored critics asked the man who played one of TV’s first major gay characters, Soap’s Jodie Dallas, to comment on the difficulties of playing that role, as well as his feelings on how things have changed since. After acknowledging that it was “awkward” in 1977, the 66-year-old person who works in professional comedy and not your HR department went on to say, “I’ve seen some stuff recently on TV in different kinds of shows where the language or the explicit sex is really, you know… sometimes I get it, and sometimes I just feel like, ’Ah, that’s too much for me.’”
Crystal later discussed how Soap would be filming in front of a live audience “and there were times where I would say to Bob [Seagren], ‘I love you,’ and the audience would laugh nervously—because, you know, it’s a long time ago—that I’d feel this anger. I wanted to stop the tape and go, “What is your problem?” After taking a stand against that sort of stuffy, outdated prudishness, Crystal then added that, these days, “I see it and I just hope people don’t abuse it and shove it in our face—well, that sounds terrible—to the point of it just feels like an everyday kind of thing.”
In the context of his being asked specifically about gay characters, naturally there were some who interpreted Crystal’s comments about it all being “too much,” and his dismay over it feeling “like an everyday kind of thing,” to be specifically about gay characters and gay sex, considering that was the question. But after his comments caused a minor uproar, Crystal later clarified in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter: It’s not just gay sex that he thinks is “too much” and that he hopes won’t become an “everyday kind of thing.” It’s all sex, which should be reserved for special occasions—like when the Yankees win the pennant.
“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,” said Billy Crystal, an arbiter of tastefulness who often pretends to be old black guys.
Anyway, in the interest of clearing things up, THR has published the entire transcript of Crystal’s comments. Yes, they include something about baseball. Why can’t we just talk about baseball?