Ryan Murphy, Straight People and Gay Camp, Stephen King’s Tweet About Ratched
I just finished watching another Ryan Murphy series for Netflix and I loved it. This one is called Ratched and it’s based on an exaggerated, campy version of a character from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The character, Nurse Ratched, has been a campy gay reference for years. I think you have to be gay to know that. In other words, it’s a character that’s larger than life and it’s consciously artificial. It’s very much like the gay romance novels I’ve been writing for over ten years now, with titles like Sleepless in San Francisco and When Harry Met Sal, and even An Officer and HIS Gentleman. All parody, all exaggerated, and all meant to be campy in the way all gay men can understand and appreciate.
However, not all straights can appreciate good old fashioned camp. In fact, I don’t think most even know what camp is. Author Stephen King tweeted this out yesterday and some of the responses he got were adorable. The straights really don’t know. I’m not sure what King was thinking, but the responses he got were interesting.
One straight person actually said this:
I feel like the show is creating a Ratched character that is different from the film. Ratched isn’t the villain of the film, McMurphy is.
Huzzah!! They happen to be absolutely correct, but sadly they don’t understand why. That happened to me with a book once. The book blogger/reviewer slammed me with all the right comments only she didn’t know what the hell she was talking about because she was a straight women who didn’t know the first thing about gay culture. You can’t review a gay book based on what you know from Will and His Grace. Here’s a link to that review. I think that reviewer is dead now and I’m still here to write about it and record it, so I truly have no hard feelings. May she rest in eternal peace. I can’t get mad at someone for not knowing something. And it really would have been a perfect review if she’d only understood gay camp and gay culture. It still makes me smile to this day.
Of course, some of the hetero responses with regard to gay camp can also be snarky and mean. I know that feeling well with my own books and reviews. Whenever I parody something from the mainstream straight world there are always a few straight readers who do not understand gay culture or camp, and they will go after me with ruthless reviews. But it is what it is, and I’ve learned to overlook it. It’s going to take a long, long time to work this one out. Most straight people think being gay is only about sex.
But I do recommend watching Ratched. I loved it for many reasons, but mostly for the camp.