MIDWAY : What’s the big deal?

There’s always a story kicking round about homosexuality in connection with the music industry — specifically, the MTV strain of music, and more specifically, rap and hip-hop. I think it’s because people like to trot out all the outrageous homophobic remarks hip-hop stars have made, but I also wonder how amusing it is if you actually are gay, and furthermore, have been the victim of attack on that basis.

So you won’t be hearing Eminem’s secondhand gay-hate from me, or at least not this time. But the latest story is this: Terrance Dean, an MTV exec, has just broken cover by describing the flourishing gay subculture in this most homophobic of worlds. It is wild, apparently. Dean is very discreet, but if you did know anything and you could put two and two together about the anonymous stars he describes, there would be some very interesting sums, if you’re interested in those kinds of sums.

“Within the next year I believe a major artist will come out. They are going to have to be brave but I think they can do it,” said Dean, having made it clear that he won’t be outing anybody. Here’s my question: right now, is it really that brave to come out, as a rap star, or indeed any other pop star?

The urge to make icons as widely attractive as possible, all over the world, has ushered in a cultural best-practice in which everyone looks the same, all music videos are interchangeable, and crucially, their sexual language is no longer anything to do with sex.

All the stars of MTV, male and female, wherever they fall on the homophobia continuum, are deliberately samey, and this desexualises them. If you think of a star in terms of the James Bond cliche, “women want him, men want to be him”, once the desire element of that yin-yang has been dispersed by the homogeneity, the emulation is similarly desexualised — why would men want to be him, whoever he is, if women don’t want him?

So we’re not talking Rock Hudson any more. It couldn’t matter less who’s gay and who’s straight. I honestly think a rap star could walk on to a screen surrounded by excited goats, and as long as they looked well-cared for (the goats, not the rappers), you wouldn’t even get any trouble from an animal rights activist.