EXCLUSIVE: The Hobbit 2 tackles homophobia.
In leaked scenes from the upcoming movie, Gandalf the Grey confronts the evil Lord Pedinoris, a powerful creature born with one foot inside his mouth.
Pedinoris – disguised as New Zealand Prime Minister John Key – enrages the wizard by insisting the word ‘gay’ means ‘weird’.
Gandalf – channeling Sir Ian McKellen – thunders from the summit, “You shall not pass!
Careless words damage lives!”
But the Lord forges forward, brandishing a tablet known as the Oxford Dictionary: “It is in common use,” he says, trying to untangle his tongue from his toes. “I don’t think too many people would be offended by it.”
Gandalf raises his staff and smites the mighty Pedinoris.
Then he returns to his job teaching school students in Middle Earth how to handle homophobia.
The scenes of the past 48 hours in New Zealand prove truth is stranger than fiction. In what has become known as #redtopgate, the Prime Minister has defended his derogatory use of the word ‘gay’.
He said he picked up the term from his children.
As I mother-of-two, I know kids can come out with inappropriate comments. It’s up to the parent teach them appropriate language.
Instead the PM – who, ironically, supports gay marriage – has told his kids it’s OK to use a homophobic slur, denigrate a minority group in the media, and defend the indefensible.
Some role model.
Sure, language does evolve. Gay initially meant “carefree and happy” before being used to describe same-sex attraction in the late 19th century. The pejorative use of the word in English began in the early ’80s, as a generic insult meaning “bad, dumb, or stupid”.
(Disturbingly, the same phenomenon is being seen among young people in Germany with the term schwul.)
This is not just politically incorrect. It is semantically incorrect. And morally incorrect. Being gay is not bad, dumb, or stupid.
The absurdity of homophobia is highlighted by the Left Hand campaign, created by beyondblue and Movember in consultation with GLBTI communities.
Its central message is Stop, Think, Respect: You wouldn’t abuse someone because they were born left-handed; why would you do so because someone is gay?
As Barack Obama said in his famous Wisconsin speech of 2008, “Don’t tell me words don’t matter.” He echoed Martin Luther King: “I have a dream. Just words? We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. Just words?”
We can learn lessons from the African-American civil rights movement: homophobia should carry the same stigma as racism.
John Keys would never have contemplated saying, “It’s because of that hori* top you’re wearing”. He used the word ‘gay’ because he thought he’d get away with it.
But he has a powerful nemesis.
He’s touring English secondary schools, “attacking homophobia in the playground and discouraging kids from the careless use of ‘gay’ which might make their gay friends (and teachers) feel less about themselves”.
I’ve never believed in the old adage about sticks and stones. Words can wound – the pen is mightier the sword.
So, we should use all the words at our disposal to tell John Key it’s not OK – on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.
In the words of the immortal Gandalf, “The battle for Middle Earth is about to begin”.
*This is a derogatory term for a Maori.
MORE ARTICLES BY TRACEY SPICER
*Tracey Spicer is a respected journalist who has worked for many years in radio, print and television.
Channel Nine and 10 news presenter and reporter; 2UE and Vega broadcaster; News Ltd. columnist; Sky News anchor …it’s been a dream career for the Brisbane schoolgirl with a passion for news and current affairs.
Tracey is a passionate advocate for issues as diverse as voluntary euthanasia, childhood vaccinations, breastfeeding, better regulation of foreign investment in Australia’s farmland, and curtailed opening hours for pubs and clubs. She is an Ambassador for World Vision, ActionAid, WWF, the Royal Hospital for Women’s Newborn Care Centre and the Penguin Foundation, Patron of Cancer Council NSW and The National Premmie Foundation, and the face of the Garvan Institute’s research into pancreatic cancer, which killed her beloved mother Marcia 11 years ago. But Tracey’s favourite job, with her husband, is bringing up two beautiful children – six-year-old Taj and five-year-old Grace. Visit Tracey’s website at www.spicercommunications.biz or follow her on Twitter @spicertracey.