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'F---ing Ben Affleck': This Joke, Again?

As the actor's imaginary love affair with Jimmy Kimmel continues to be a viral-video hit, columnist Mark Harris wonders why the idea of someone being gay is so hilarious

Ben Affleck, Jimmy Kimmel | JIMMY KIMMEL AND BEN AFFLECK cozy up in the wildly popular ''F---ing'' video. Get it? They're gay!
JIMMY KIMMEL AND BEN AFFLECK cozy up in the wildly popular ''F---ing'' video. Get it? They're gay!

Taking issue with ''Affleck'' vid

I spent an inordinately large chunk of last weekend trying to avoid writing — specifically, trying to avoid writing about ''I'm F---ing Ben Affleck,'' the Jimmy Kimmel parody video that has been having a big YouTube moment since the Oscars. When I write a column, I like to believe I have at least a fighting chance of winning something — a point, a fan, your attention. But this one seems like a losing proposition. Want to feel lonely? Try standing in a room and saying ''...but that's not funny'' while everyone around you is laughing hysterically. Straight people will roll their eyes (something they did not know how to do before they met us, by the way) and tell you to get a sense of humor. And so will some gay people.

Gays and straights are in a strange phase of their pop-cultural relationship right now: We've all seen Philadelphia and Brokeback Mountain and Will & Grace and watched Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O'Donnell host various things, and we all like Bravo and we all know the rules and We're All Good Friends. And since we're all good friends, we can share a laugh, right?

Right. In the movies and on TV, straight people have sort of agreed not to murder us or beat us up or make overtly vicious sport of us anymore, and to frown sternly in the direction of any heterosexuals who have not gotten that memo — offenders who, if necessary, will get the strongest punishment straight people can give out, which is a very severe talking-to from Katherine Heigl or a comedy about the importance of tolerance from Adam Sandler. And in exchange, gay people are expected to prove that we can take a joke. The same joke. Over and over again. Here's the joke: You know what would be completely hilarious? IF SOMEBODY WAS GAY!

Because that would mean that two guys would be...gay! And, you know, they'd sing ballads to each other and paint each other's toenails and do girly things together and touch noses and stuff, and wear spandex and short shorts and leopard neckerchiefs, and just act generally ultra-gay. Get it? Get it? Don't you get it? It's funny!

Yeah. I get it. As a gay man, I've heard that one before. In fact, it sounds remarkably like the kind of joke you straight people used to tell back when you hated us.

NEXT PAGE: ''I do wonder just how often gay people are going to be asked to grin along with this particular set of stereotypes before it's officially proven that we can have a laugh at our own expense and we can move on to, oh, maybe a different joke.''

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