Thursday, September 15, 2011


Here is a name to keep out of your rolodex, not to mention your psyche. He is Keith Ablow. Ablow may not be a household name in your neck of the woods, but he has made great strides in becoming a media personality. Ablow is a Johns-Hopkins-trained psychiatrist, who discovered during his college years that he had a talent for writing and reporting. Broadcasting discovered him, slowly but surely, and over the years he has become a sought-after commentator on big name shows. It is, however, his unfortunate take on the Chaz Bono/ “Dancing With The Stars” 2011 story that will probably follow him for the rest of his career. One wonders how he could be so lacking in foresight as to come forward with some of the preposterous things he has said about the recently transgendered Bono.

I could tell you all about his incessant ramblings, but listen for yourself to an interview Ablow did this week with FOX news reporter Megyn Kelly:

Gosh…somebody forgot to tell the doc that kids are not real keen on watching shows about ballroom dancing. Oh, and somebody neglected to inform Ablow that most kids in America wouldn’t know a Chaz Bono if it fell on them. And really, how much of the DWTS show time is going to be devoted to discussion of changing one’s gender or delving into one’s sexual identity? Hey..Ablow, have you ever even watched this program? I’m thinking probably not.

But that’s not even the issue here. The real issue here is Ablow’s motivation to spout off his highly unscientific b.s. about Bono’s influence on children. Is it his deeply caring spirit that just moves him to save the world’s children, or is it his incessant, borderline phobia about gender identity once again rearing its ugly head? Perhaps this is a good time to remind the reader that it was just a year and a half ago that Ablow wrote a column skewering the J.Crew catalog for featuring a picture of designer Jenna Lyons painting her son’s toenails hot pink. According to Ablow, “This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity—homogenizing males and females when the outcome of such “psychological sterilization’ is not known.” Ablow, it seems has no room for grey areas in gender identity. He goes on to say, “These folks are hostile to the gender distinctions that actually are part of the magnificent synergy that creates and sustains the human race. They respect their own creative notions a whole lot more than any creative Force in the universe.”


So, let me see if I, an average reader/viewer, understand all of this hifalutin hyperbole: If a transgender person appears on a TV dancing competition whose audience demographic skews older and female, kids will suddenly want to remove their genitalia. If a mother paints her kid’s toenails the wrong color and has a picture taken of that, the boy will probably end up gay. How’m I doing Ablow?

The explosion of mass media over the past couple of decades has created pathways for extremists like Ablow to come forward to claim airtime in prime time. If you are of a certain age, you grew up with three or four TV stations. By the 1980s you had a couple hundred cable channels from which to choose. Broadcasters had to find ways to fill up all of that air time. That is the downside of the rapid and ongoing expansion of traditional and digital media. Does anyone believe the likes of Jerry Springer (above, right) or Ann Coulter or Dr. Laura Schlesinger would ever have found themselves in front of a TV camera before cable? Absolutely not. Ablow is simply another in a long line of on-air personalities with extreme behavior or politics or prejudices that have managed to claim some of our time and attention.

But here is the upshot of this whole disturbing trend. We, the viewers, are smarter – much smarter – than they give us credit for. I know and you know that nobody makes a major life decision by watching Chaz do the cha-cha. And we know that pink paint does not a gay boy make. We are smart, thinking individuals and we also know that these crackpots who espouse their attention-getting rhetoric are nothing more than entertainers. Dr. Keith Ablow, with his enviable education and experience is really nothing more or less than a thinking man’s Jerry Springer. He underestimated us, and that may be his fatal flaw.

Now, if there is one thing that may deter me from this season’s DWTS, it won’t be Chaz Bono – it will be another contestant – one Nancy Grace (right), yet another crackpot whose 15 minutes have been stretched way too far. Honestly, if I have to watch Nancy Grace do a quick step on national television, I may have to be sedated. And Dr. Ablow, on Sept. 19 when ABC offers its season premiere of DWTS, you need to change your channel to something safe and calm – may I suggest C-span and a glass of nice, warm milk?


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Igor Kopmar said...

ballroom dancing is a nice show on television, I like it to watch and I am ready to watch the dance of "Chaz Bono".

Igor Kopmar,
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