The Problem With Dan Savage On MTV


Dan Savage is a good sex columnist. He’s opinionated, idiosyncratic, and has helped a lot of people. The It Gets Better project is a major achievement. But is he the best one to give advice to high school students?

Dan Savage has never made any bones about the fact that his column is a reflection of nothing but his personal views. And when you make the choice to read it, you do so with the understanding that he thinks vaginas are gross, he’s made a lot of problematic statements about “fat people” (see Kate Harding’s response for a good overview), and a lot of people view him as anti-trans and even anti-bi. But that he’s given a lot of great, sex-positive advice and done a power of good for LGBT youth. Few of us have uncomplicated views of him — but then, he’s never been a unilateral authority.

But if he’s put in the role of teen sexpert, presented by MTV as The Adult Expert, will this be true? Reports EW, the MTV pilot “follows Savage as he tours college campuses giving his brand of brutally honest (and sometimes graphic) sex and relationship advice. In the format, Savage takes questions from an auditorium audience (similar to his recently completed college tour).” That’s great — and we’re sure his audience will learn a lot — but the audience will surely be a lot younger than college-age for the most part.

Much of how the show turns out will, of course, depend on editing. On the one hand, Savage probably won’t address fat acceptance (or lack thereof) or the grossness of the vadge on TV. On the other hand, he might! Will MTV edit for maximum education, or for maximum outrageousness? Are they going to focus on advice, or a “character?” Will we hear differing views or counterpoints if Savage shares his most controversial opinions? Surely some will object to the graphic nature of the content, but my concern is much more with projecting negativity on issues like fat acceptance — and our objections with that being lumped in with prudish sex-negativity.

Dan Savage is a complicated guy with a complicated track record. Let’s just hope MTV communicates this.

Advice Columnist Dan Savage Lands MTV Pilot [EW]

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