On Monday, I wore out the batteries in my remote control by flipping between the morning shows to catch all the Oscar coverage. It's always hard for me to let go of award season after the Oscars.
On the Today Show, Meredith Vieira and Al Roker interviewed some of the makers of The Hurt Locker. At the end of the interview, she alluded to a embrace co-stars Anthony Mackie and Jeremy Renner shared on the set of the Today Show the morning the nominations were announced. The day after the awards were handed out she asked “You hugged him pretty tight, I must say, in the moment. There was a lot of man lovin’ goin’ on last night. Do I have reason to be worried?”
Kudos to Al Roker for his incredulous reply “Why would you say that?!” Indeed, Meredith, why would you say that? What exactly is it that you are “worried” about?
Well, today, GLAAD posted a statement from Vieira in which she sincerely apologizes:
During an interview with the cast of the hurt locker on Monday, I turned to actor Anthony Mackie and made a joke about “man hugging” in reference to a hug he and fellow actor Jeremy Renner had shared a few weeks earlier on our air. It was meant to be lighthearted, but some were offended by what they believed to be a homophobic comment. That was never my intent, but that doesn’t matter. Words are extremely powerful and should never be chosen lightly, even in a lighthearted moment. I apologize to any and all that I offended. My support of the gay and lesbian community is longstanding and well documented. It has not and will never waver.
It's a nice statement – none of the usual “I'm sorry if you were offended” bullshit you usually see from celebrities. I accept her at her word; I really don't believe that Meredith Vieira is prejudiced.
Unfortunately, she's not the real problem here. That question wasn't asked as a spur-of-the-moment time-filler. The producers had the original clip all cued up and ready to roll. It wasn't a lighthearted moment; it had been decided ahead of time that Meredith would ask the question. The problem is that while Meredith isn't prejudiced, the producers believe that their audience is. They think that people care about Anthony Mackie's sex-life. They believe that titillating questions about Jeremy Renner's sexual orientation will boost their ratings. And it's entirely possible that they're correct – after all, you should never underestimate the stupidity of the American public.
In any case, I'm glad I wasn't the only person who was offended by the comment and I'm glad Meredith apologized. And I'm very glad that award season is over so I can go back to not watching morning shows.