Esquire magazine issued an apology after publishing a review of HBO’s new show Looking that was said to be homophobic.
The Jan. 20 review by Mick Stingley, which was published on Esquire‘s Culture Blog, was titled: “A Straight Man’s Guide to HBO’s Looking: A show about three boring gay men.” The review called the show “pretty gay” and “gay and boring.” Looking premiered Jan. 19.
“Looking just portrays gay men, at least in San Francisco, as being no fun. Hard to believe,” he wrote. It also questioned if the one female character, “Doros,” is ” just a friend, a ‘token,’ a ‘lipstick lesbian,’ or a ‘fag hag.'”
Stingley went on to argue: “this show is bereft of levity and crawls at a snail’s pace with claustrophobic camerawork that feels like a Dateline re-enactment shot by Ingmar Bergman. Guys hook up without fear of STDs yet no one looks like they’re having any fun. It commits the heinous sin of being gay and boring.”
An update now posted above the article reads:
“UPDATE: We apologize to anyone offended by our attempt at humor in this piece. It reflects one man’s viewing experience. He does not think all gay people are boring. Just this show, a little.”
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Gawker’s Rick Juzwiak agreed that the show is “boring,” but explained that the problem with Stingley’s article is that Stingley complains that gay men should be funny. He wrote:
“The difference between Stingley and I is that while I find it boring compared to other shows regardless of color, creed, or orientation, Stingley indicts the characters on the show for not living up to his image of gay men as culture’s jesters (the proverbial ‘sissy’ trope that for decades existed in pop culture as the only suggestion that queer men actually exist).”
Likewise, Policy Mic argued that “What Stingley certainly does not want is complex, human characters — he wants a minstrel show.”
Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon noted that Esquire‘s update for the Looking review “is better than the type Esquire usually manages,” citing two weak apologies in the past year.
iMediaEthics has written to Esquire for comment and will update with any response.