We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

The slippery slope of KissCam pair-ups

The Washington Post‘s Mike Wise has an interesting column today on the culture clash between the two biggest fan bases for local WNBA team the Washington Mystics: daddy-daughter pairs and lesbian couples. One casualty of the perceived rift between the “family values” seat-fillers and the same-sex set? The KissCam.

The Jumbotron tradition—-where two sports fans are caught on the big screen and encouraged to kiss—-wouldn’t be “appropriate” at a Mystics game, according to team brass. Wise explains why:

Really, why doesn’t the inclusive WNBA franchise in the nation’s capital, of all places, send their video cameramen and camerawomen to find unsuspecting couples in the stands during timeouts and capture their mugs for all of Verizon Center’s crowd to see? And wait for the couple’s reaction, which usually involves a polite, if awkward, peck on the lips.

Just like they do at NBA games and other sporting events in which the participants are men.

“We got a lot of kids here,” Sheila Johnson, the Mystics’ managing partner, said when asked last week at a game. “We just don’t find it appropriate.”

Understood is that women’s professional basketball has two major fan bases: dads and daughters, and lesbians. The KissCam issue, frivolous on its surface, puts the effort to cater to both audiences squarely at odds.

But of course: the Mystics KissCam is being suppressed for the sake of The Children, with a side of Protecting the Gays from Ridicule. But by nixing the KissCam, the Mystics protect something else, as well: the inherent homophobia of the KissCamera Operator.

Wise notes that most professional sports KissCams limit their smooch solicitations from heterosexual couples:

On the Jumbotron at Wizards games, couples on their first date sometimes balk at kissing, which generates laughter. Other times couples are ready for the lens — passionate kissing and theatrical groping, which usually brings the building to a crescendo of hilarity.

Funny, huh, not one same-sex couple has ever been shown on that screen.

But Wise fails to recognize one time-honored KissCam tradition: Using thesame-sex KissCam to make fun of gay people!

One Philadelphia Phillies fan has seen the same-sex KissCam, and she doesn’t like it: “the Phillies ‘kiss cam,’ after showing various (straight) couples smooching, zoomed in on two men and the crowd erupted into laughter,” she writes. And the Washington Blade noted the practice in a 2004 story on the Washington Capitols‘ Capitals’ KissCam: “A fairly routine joke now is to find two men wearing jerseys of the opposing team who are sitting next to each other, and encourage them to kiss.”

No, this isn’t about protecting The Children from learning that gay people kiss, or protecting gay couples from an arena of laughs. If the KissCam goes gay, the worry isn’t that homophobic sports fans will make gay jokes about the couple kissing across the arena. The real worry is that they will no longer be able to make gay jokes about the straight guys being targeted on the KissCam operators. If same-sex couples are featured like normal humans on the KissCam, where will they find the homophobic punchline? If two men can kiss on camera, how will we make fun of the two men asked to kiss on camera?

Photo by megnificence