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Old 31st January 2012, 09:00 PM   #1
Puppycow
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'House' episode offends asexuals

“House” gets asexuality wrong

Quote:
Last week’s episode of “House” marked the first time a major TV network featured self-identified asexual characters. But the asexuality community isn’t exactly celebrating this breakthrough; in fact, many are petitioning Fox executives in outrage.

That’s because the episode ends — spoiler alert! — with the revelation that the characters aren’t asexual after all.

When the show’s cantankerous lead, Dr. Gregory House, learns that his colleague has a female patient who identifies as asexual, and is married to an “asexual” man, he bets him $100 that he can find “a medical reason why she doesn’t want to have sex.” Through his signature unethical approach, House manages to run some tests on the husband under the guise of administering a flu shot. He finds that the man has a pituitary tumor that’s killing his sex drive. Then comes the ultimate reveal: The wife — or “giant pool of algae,” as House calls her — is just pretending to be asexual to make her husband happy.

David Jay, founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network (AVEN), tells me the show’s treatment was “disturbing but not unexpected.” Not only does the episode assert “that asexuality is problematic and pathological,” he says, but it also tells people who actually accept asexuality as a valid sexual orientation — an acceptance Jay has long fought for — that “they’re wrong.”
Sounds to me like they blew it. Why treat asexuality as a medical condition instead of just another sexual orientation?
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:03 PM   #2
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Because it's a TV show about pretend medical conditions?
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:08 PM   #3
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If the character had been gay instead, and House found that it was actually a tumor that was causing him to be gay, and his husband/boyfriend was just pretending to be gay, would that be not be offensive?

It's the notion that somewhere inside every asexual or gay person there's really a straight person trying to get out.
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:08 PM   #4
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What Loss Leader said.

And the fact is that there are many things people do that aren't considered medical problems... until individuals turn them into one. TV 'dramas' haven't really invested heavily in the upside of things for a while.

On another note, since House is currently treating conditions that start with the letter 'A', does that mean the show has been renewed for at least 25 more episodes?
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:12 PM   #5
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I would've thought that House himself is asexual. Although perhaps not quite the posterboy for asexuality that they'd be looking for
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:15 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
I would've thought that House himself is asexual. Although perhaps not quite the posterboy for asexuality that they'd be looking for
Nah, he dated Cuddy and hires hookers.

He is an atheist and a skeptic. Though not one people here would want as a posterboy.
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:21 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
“House” gets asexuality wrong

Sounds to me like they blew it. Why treat asexuality as a medical condition instead of just another sexual orientation?
The fact is that low or zero libido can have identifiable medical causes, and that if the cause was a tumour then identifying that cause could save that person's life.

Maybe there's nothing medically wrong with some people who identify as asexual, and maybe they're happy that way. It's no skin off my nose if that is the case. However such people make up less than 100% of the zero-libido population.

House is a medical drama, so I don't see anything wrong at all with an asexual person on that show having a medical basis for their asexuality.

If there were curable medical conditions that caused homosexuality, I'd have no problem with House curing someone's medical condition that was causing their homosexuality. I'm pretty sure that's not how reality works, so I think it's a straw man rather than an equivalent case, but if it did I'd have no problem with House doing a story about it.

I'm sure AVEN would like House to do a Very Special Episode all about how asexuality is a valid sexual orientation (just like atheism is a religion and not collecting stamps is a hobby) but that doesn't mean it's wrong for House not to do so.
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:29 PM   #8
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Sounds like the people at the AVEN really need to get laid.
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:31 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Kevin_Lowe View Post
The fact is that low or zero libido can have identifiable medical causes, and that if the cause was a tumour then identifying that cause could save that person's life.

Maybe there's nothing medically wrong with some people who identify as asexual, and maybe they're happy that way. It's no skin off my nose if that is the case. However such people make up less than 100% of the zero-libido population.

House is a medical drama, so I don't see anything wrong at all with an asexual person on that show having a medical basis for their asexuality.

If there were curable medical conditions that caused homosexuality, I'd have no problem with House curing someone's medical condition that was causing their homosexuality. I'm pretty sure that's not how reality works, so I think it's a straw man rather than an equivalent case, but if it did I'd have no problem with House doing a story about it.

I'm sure AVEN would like House to do a Very Special Episode all about how asexuality is a valid sexual orientation (just like atheism is a religion and not collecting stamps is a hobby) but that doesn't mean it's wrong for House not to do so.
OK, you win.

You hit on something that occurred to me after my last post, which is that the prefix of asexual is the same as the prefix for atheism. Atheism is not a religion, but the absence of a religion, just as not collecting stamps is not a hobby, but the absence of a hobby. So, therefore, asexuality is not a sexual orientation, but the absence of a sexual orientation (Not That There's Anything Wrong With ThatTM).
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:32 PM   #10
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I haven't seen it, but here's an exchange from it:
Quote:
Wilson: "Did you know that close to one percent of the population identifies as asexual?"
House: "We have really got to get you laid. If I have to plow that furrow myself, so be it."
Wilson: "I have a patient who's asexual."
House: "Is she a giant pool of algae?"
Wilson: "It's a valid sexual orientation. According to this article, at least."
House: "Yeah, I think I read that, too. Is that Fugliness Weekly?"
Wilson: "She's perfectly fine-looking. Happily married for ten years."
House: "To a guy who loves penis enough for both of them."
http://www.fox.com/house/houseisms/s.../episode-9.htm

Yuck.
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:34 PM   #11
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House has found medical reasons for religiosity and generosity, too. If there wasn't a medical reason for the couple in this episode to be asexual, it wouldn't have been good for the two main themes of the show: Silly medicine and House is always right even when he initially has no good reason to be so.

Obviously, people can choose to be asexual. Just as obviously, asexuality can be thrust upon them (so to speak). The former might be interesting in, say, a legal drama (perhaps a divorce case?); the latter is what works for a medical show.
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:34 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Kevin_Lowe View Post
I'm sure AVEN would like
I went to the AVAN website and clicked on the "To find out more about asexuality, click here" link. On that page, I found this...

Quote:
Note: People do not need sexual arousal to be healthy, but in a minority of cases a lack of arousal can be the symptom of a more serious medical condition. If you do not experience sexual arousal or if you suddenly lose interest in sex you should probably check with a doctor just to be safe.
So, in the House episode the lack of sexual arousal was a symptom of a serious medical problem, and the AVAN website itself warns that lack of sexual arousal can be a symptom of a serious medical problem.

I'm not sure what they're complaining about.

Unless they expect House to be politically correct. But House is never politically correct.
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:38 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Brian-M View Post
So, on the House episode the lack of sexual arousal was a symptom of a serious medical problem, and the AVAN website itself warns that lack of sexual arousal can be a symptom of a serious medical problem.

Where's the problem?
The problem is that nobody - conservative or liberal - cares one bit about people who choose to be asexual (or are born that way - I don't know the claims or the science), so the organization jumped on this for the chance to whine in public about mistreatment. It's likely to be the first and last time most people will ever hear about them.
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:41 PM   #14
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I am guessing their problem is that House immediately assumed there was a medical reason for this woman (well, her husband) to be asexual even though he had no reason to do so. And that he went out of his way to prove it even though she wasn't his patient (she was Wilson's).
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:47 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by The Dark Lord View Post
I am guessing their problem is that House immediately assumed there was a medical reason for this woman (well, her husband) to be asexual even though he had no reason to do so. And that he went out of his way to prove it even though she wasn't his patient (she was Wilson's).
I suspect it's more simply the fact that although they depicted two valid 'causes' of asexuality (ie. medical condition, or 'faking' it), they didn't depict the 'cause' that they'd personally prefer -- a natural condition that is not harmful, and not a sickness. And, as mentioned above, because it gives them a chance for a little publicity for their cause.

Now, what I'd like to see is a show where they have someone who was originally gay, but then becomes straight. House discovers that it's because of some kind of tumor, and after treating the condition, the person goes back to being gay. Not only would it be an interesting twist, but it'd be sure to get the Christian crowd in an uproar over the idea that heterosexuality was a condition that needed to be cured!
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Old 31st January 2012, 09:53 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by The Dark Lord View Post
I am guessing their problem is that House immediately assumed there was a medical reason for this woman (well, her husband) to be asexual even though he had no reason to do so. And that he went out of his way to prove it even though she wasn't his patient (she was Wilson's).
He also called asexuals ugly, gay, lying or sick.
http://www.fox.com/house/houseisms/s.../episode-9.htm
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Old 31st January 2012, 10:00 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Wolfman View Post
I suspect it's more simply the fact that although they depicted two valid 'causes' of asexuality (ie. medical condition, or 'faking' it), they didn't depict the 'cause' that they'd personally prefer -- a natural condition that is not harmful, and not a sickness. And, as mentioned above, because it gives them a chance for a little publicity for their cause.
"The only people who don't want it are either sick, dead, or lying."
Those three things were presented as the only causes there. It's not a case of this person being a liar and this person being sick (and there being other causes for asexuality, excluding death), but of those cases, and death, being presented as the only possible causes.

Also they're really ugly and gay too, apparently.

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Old 31st January 2012, 10:04 PM   #18
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House cured dwarfism in one episode. But he failed to cure autism.

So I don't know how what kind of position is held by the American Association of Autistic Dwarves.
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Old 31st January 2012, 10:04 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Alan View Post
"The only people who don't want it are either sick, dead, or lying."
Those three things were presented as the only causes there. It's not a case of this person being a liar and this person being sick, but of those cases, and death, being presented as the only possible causes.

Also they're really ugly and gay too, apparently.
And he also assumes that every heterosexual is lying...so I guess that heterosexuals should be offended? If he directed this only towards asexuals, I'd perhaps agree...but he treats pretty much everyone with the same derision, distrust, and dislike. I'm sorry, but this behavior is completely in character for this show. House starts with the presupposition that everyone is lying, that everyone is hiding something, that everyone has some dirty secret they don't want everyone to know...it's hardly like he acted this way because they claimed to be asexual.
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Old 31st January 2012, 10:05 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Sounds to me like they blew it. Why treat asexuality as a medical condition instead of just another sexual orientation?
Because it's a TV show about a guy who is a major league <CENSORED>?
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Old 31st January 2012, 10:06 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Alan View Post
"The only people who don't want it are either sick, dead, or lying."
Those three things were presented as the only causes there. It's not a case of this person being a liar and this person being sick, but of those cases, and death, being presented as the only possible causes.

Also they're really ugly and gay too, apparently.
And? House is an offensive misanthrope. When he isn't saying something mean and offensive, that's news.
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Old 31st January 2012, 10:06 PM   #22
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What does Fox think they're doing? Creating fictional characters that represent actual viewpoints is outrageous if those viewpoints are not politically correct. House is a role model, he's supposed to represent everything that is fair and decent in our society.

Yucky-yuck. Reality is disgusting and crude. I don't watch TV to see such crude views portrayed by fictional characters. I'll be in seclusion in the west wing.
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Old 31st January 2012, 10:10 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Kevin_Lowe View Post
If there were curable medical conditions that caused homosexuality, I'd have no problem with House curing someone's medical condition that was causing their homosexuality. I'm pretty sure that's not how reality works, so I think it's a straw man rather than an equivalent case, but if it did I'd have no problem with House doing a story about it.
Actually, apparently there are medical conditions (although not necessarily curable ones at present) that can cause a straight person to turn gay:

Rugby jock says stroke turned him gay

Quote:
(CBS) Strokes can have strange consequences. Some stroke victims wind up with different accents, others with different personalities. Chris Birch said he discovered he was gay when he woke up after a stroke.

The 26-year-old Welshman suffered a stroke after breaking his neck while attempting a back flip at a gym, The Daily Mail reported. His then-fiance and family stayed by his side, but when he woke, something had changed.

"It sounds strange, but when I came round I immediately felt different," Birch told the paper. "I wasn't interested in women any more. I was definitely gay. I had never been attracted to a man before - I'd never even had any gay friends."

Before the stroke, Birch was a banker who loved playing rugby, watching sports, and drinking beer with his buds. After the stroke, he found he had little in common with his blokes, quit his job to train as a hairdresser, and started dating a man.
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Old 31st January 2012, 10:50 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Babbylonian View Post
The problem is that nobody - conservative or liberal - cares one bit about people who choose to be asexual (or are born that way - I don't know the claims or the science), so the organization jumped on this for the chance to whine in public about mistreatment. It's likely to be the first and last time most people will ever hear about them.

As an actual member of AVEN's forums, I've been keeping tabs on the discussion surrounding this episode and can offer some insight. The problem isn't that a person's asexuality was proven to be medically caused; it's the fact that House's statement - people who don't want sex are either gay or lying - is extremely familiar to asexuals as they hear it all the time; it's the second most common reaction to mentioning one's orientation (behind "you just haven't met the right person yet"); asexuals consider it invalidation at best, bigotry at worst. So House using the line and it being proven right is seen as similar to confirming a prejudicial stereotype on a show watched by millions. Considering that so few ever get to hear the advocate's side of the story, it's seen as damaging to asexuality awareness in a way that will be difficult to recover from.
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Old 31st January 2012, 10:55 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Sledge View Post
Sounds like the people at the AVEN really need to get laid.
They give those of us that were celibate against our will a bad name.


Sorta.
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Old 31st January 2012, 11:04 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
Considering that so few ever get to hear the advocate's side of the story, it's seen as damaging to asexuality awareness in a way that will be difficult to recover from.
I admit to total ignorance of any asexuality movement, if one exists as such, but I have to ask: Does anyone need to have awareness of asexuality? Are they victims of prejudice and I just haven't heard about it?

I mean, I can only speak for myself, but if someone identified themselves to me as being asexual, while I might have a few questions about it (including inquiring about their medical status, if I felt comfortable doing so - there are both primary and secondary hormone deficiencies that can be indicative of serious medical problems), at the end of the day I probably wouldn't give it a lot more thought. I don't consider the idea of someone not having sex, or an interest thereof, to be a problem or anything that requires advocacy.

It's weirder to me that an asexual would get upset about this TV show than being asexual in the first place.
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Old 31st January 2012, 11:08 PM   #27
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News flash: sarcastic, cynical TV character is sarcastic and cynical about something...
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Old 31st January 2012, 11:11 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Sounds to me like they blew it. Why treat asexuality as a medical condition instead of just another sexual orientation?
Asexuality is a sexual orientation???

Isn't it more like an ..... asexual orientation?

Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
OK, you win.

You hit on something that occurred to me after my last post, which is that the prefix of asexual is the same as the prefix for atheism. Atheism is not a religion, but the absence of a religion, just as not collecting stamps is not a hobby, but the absence of a hobby. So, therefore, asexuality is not a sexual orientation, but the absence of a sexual orientation (Not That There's Anything Wrong With ThatTM).
Ah... I hadn't read this post. So you did realize the irony
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Old 31st January 2012, 11:22 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Babbylonian View Post
I admit to total ignorance of any asexuality movement, if one exists as such, but I have to ask: Does anyone need to have awareness of asexuality? Are they victims of prejudice and I just haven't heard about it?
Yes. They are constantly assaulted by nubile young things who -- despite their total lack of interest -- try to force them to have sex, and...

...er, where do I join?
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Old 1st February 2012, 12:24 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Weird Science View Post
Yes. They are constantly assaulted by nubile young things who -- despite their total lack of interest -- try to force them to have sex, and...

...er, where do I join?
If an asexual person does not rape you, it is asexual rape.
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Old 1st February 2012, 01:08 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Babbylonian View Post
I admit to total ignorance of any asexuality movement, if one exists as such, but I have to ask: Does anyone need to have awareness of asexuality? Are they victims of prejudice and I just haven't heard about it?
I have a friend who identifies as asexual and actually suffered quite a bit of derision from it, mainly in college, he was a generally good looking and likable guy, so got a lot of female attention. When he repeatedly failed to "close the deal" guys would call him faggot, gay, pussy, etc. When he'd 'try' for the sake of peer approval but fail to get hard, then the girls know him as a limp-dick, 'closet-case,' etc.

ETA: In many ways I think it would be worse than homosexuality. Since most people who would discriminate against a homosexual will lump you in with them, you'd get the same derision from that group, but without the support and awareness of the LGBT community.

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Old 1st February 2012, 01:12 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Because it's a TV show about pretend medical conditions?
Hold on a moment - you mean it isn't a medical lecture? That it is a fictional - well I never....

I do wonder why people get their knickers tied in a twist about such shows, especially since they will often focus in on one small detail they consider wrong or incorrect which is just one minnow swimming alongside the whales in the ocean of wrongness that is every single TV show!
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Old 1st February 2012, 01:14 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
If the character had been gay instead, and House found that it was actually a tumor that was causing him to be gay, and his husband/boyfriend was just pretending to be gay, would that be not be offensive?

It's the notion that somewhere inside every asexual or gay person there's really a straight person trying to get out.
No more offensive than his silly pretend limp is offensive to people with an actual disability that results in them limping.
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Old 1st February 2012, 01:21 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Alan View Post
He also called asexuals ugly, gay, lying or sick.
http://www.fox.com/house/houseisms/s.../episode-9.htm
So what? He makes offensive statements in every episode. They are almost always hilarious.

Why is everyone so damned uptight all the time? Is this why the US are always invading other countries?
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Old 1st February 2012, 01:31 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Sword_Of_Truth View Post
Because it's a TV show about a guy who is a major league <CENSORED>?
huh? genius is not against the MA.
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Old 1st February 2012, 01:35 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
No more offensive than his silly pretend limp is offensive to people with an actual disability that results in them limping.
Or his hiding behind said limp as an excuse for his drug abuse.
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Old 1st February 2012, 01:37 AM   #37
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I'd like to add that I don't think House did anything particularly wrong, though it seems like no one is really arguing the opposite at this point. I can see how it would hit home if you were an asexual and you've had to deal with ******** like House in real life, but that's the nature of media and life in general. I'm sure a prison rape joke could wound me pretty badly if I'd been raped in prison. But being offensive isn't a bad thing, per se.
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Old 1st February 2012, 02:39 AM   #38
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An episode of House offended somebody. Film at 11.

Next up: Liquid water is wet.
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Old 1st February 2012, 03:08 AM   #39
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Asexuality is NOT a sexual orientation.

That is just an excuse so they can live their sick, twisted lifestyle.
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Old 1st February 2012, 03:34 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
“House” gets asexuality wrong



Sounds to me like they blew it.
Well, I guess that would count as not being asexual...
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