TV: Stephen Fry: Out There (2013)

38117language: English, Portuguese, Russian, Hindi
length: 2 episodes of 59 minutes each
finished watching on: 21 Oct 2013

This was heavily advertised by friends on Facebook – a mini-series about Stephen Fry going round to all the worst countries and confronting homophobes face to face. I guess there’s no hope if that synopsis isn’t even a little bit appealing. It’s not just that, to be fair: it’s also a look at gay/LGBT culture around the world. It seems like a very personal project that Fry had been sitting on for some time. He visits Uganda, America, Russia, Brazil and India during his travels.

I couldn’t work out what Fry was hoping to achieve by making the series, though. Every time he confronts a homophobe he fails to convince them that they’re wrong – more than anything, he’s seen as a Western cultural intruder whose views don’t and shouldn’t matter in the often ex-colonial countries he visits. We and he get a glimpse of what is going through the homophobes’ minds, perhaps, but as Fry admits with dismay, it’s always the same rhetoric about gays threatening family life … or something? What they say never makes sense.

It becomes a bit indulgent of Fry – in a masochistic way, naturally, but I had to scoff a bit when he started comparing his (non-anal) method of sex to the way the Greeks did it, first as if that’s going to convince the homophobe obsessed with anal prolapse of anything, but since the remarks were given in a heated discussion when Fry probably wasn’t watching his words as carefully as he would normally, it gives a fascinating insight into his own pretensions and self-image. Like I think I mentioned when I reviewed QI, I’ve gotten addicted to that program in such a way that I’m compelled to watch it without getting that much enjoyment out of it (because I started using it as a sleeping aid and now can’t stop), and I feel saturated with Fry’s TV presence sometimes, so that I’m definitely seeing straight through the outer veneer.

That said, his TV presence is still somewhat infatuating, and I very much enjoyed the aspects of the show that dealt more with world culture, and I certainly share in the questionable joy of shaking my head at idiots that presumably led to the program being conceived in the first place. It’s also incredibly brave of him to do some of the things he does, and even more incredibly brave of some of the young people in LGBT centres in Kampala and St Petersburg to appear on camera. I definitely applaud him for making the series. Word has it that he attempted suicide during the course of filming, and perhaps we should just be thankful that he is still alive as a result.

Also, he should lose the goatee. I at least say that unequivocably.


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