Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Everything on Television Must Be True

An episode of the television show Bones reminded me of the power and danger of fiction. The A story was of little importance. The B story, however, was about a homosexual relationship between one of the main characters and her friend from college. The show’s writers pretended to show both sides of the issue by showing people who saw nothing wrong with it and showing those who do, but the homage they paid to those who see it as wrong dealt more with tradition than it did with facts. The picture they painted of the two women involved was one of apparently healthy feelings the two still have for each other. But the real kicker was when the major character said, “I am not promiscuous,” after having broken up with her boyfriend while looking for another sexual partner. This is before the scene of her kissing her lesbian girlfriend.

The danger that this episode of Bones shows us is that fiction writers can make claims without providing accurate evidence to support those claims. The homosexual relationship portrayed on Bones is a far cry from a real life homosexual relationship. Most homosexuals have many partners, not one person that she still has feelings for. The reason we should be opposed to homosexuality isn’t because that is how we were taught and while it should be sufficient for us to know that God hate homosexuality, we should also oppose it because it leads to hurtful, broken relationships. The life of a homosexual is more like that of a character on a soap opera than the life portrayed by Bones. But how are people to know that Bones is lying to them if all they know about homosexuality is what the writers of the show tell them?

In some ways, what Fox did with Bones is not that much different from what all fiction writers do. We create an imaginary situation with unreal conditions and speculate about what characters would do with those parameters. In this case, one of the parameters is that homosexuality is a healthy lifestyle. The problem is in how close to real life the creator make the show appear, making it difficult for people to see what is fact and what is fantasy. Even as fiction writers, I believe we have a responsibility to prove our thesis with facts rather than how we would like the world to be, but as the writers of Bones have shown us, the fiction writer is not limited to facts in proving his claims.