Jay Leno is Such an Asshole

Last night, Ryan Phillippe was on The Tonight Show, which gave Jay Leno the opportunity to do one of his favorite things: Laugh at gay men!

Now, Phillippe isn't gay, but he played Billy Douglas on One Life to Live, which was the first out gay teen character on American daytime television—and Phillippe was once naked in a jeans commercial, so that's good enough for Jay. Says Andy (who's got the video): "[T]he first topic Leno brought up was Phillippe's first acting role as a gay teen on One Life to Live. No matter that the role was a serious one in which a gay son came out to his father. Leno had to squeeze as much of a joke out of the fact that his first acting role was a gay part, even asking Phillippe to look into the camera and give his 'gayest look'."

Aside from the obvious problems in the clip, Leno's contempt for soap operas, especially during a conversation about a landmark gay character, is really aggravating, given their important, if oft-ignored, role in social progress. Soap operas have been ahead of the curve on introducing feminist ideas, divorces, single mothers, interracial romances, and gay and trans characters, just for a start. Characters representing the cutting edge of social movements have been beaming into the living rooms of (mostly) stay-at-home moms, using their empathy for characters in whom they are emotionally invested to challenge biases and open minds, for decades. It's all just a big joke to Jay Leno, which is a particular vexation given that it is by virtue of his straight male whiteness that he could ascend to host of The Tonight Show, one of the most coveted (but square) gigs in comedy, despite being only marginally funny, at best.

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