Man on the street interviews can run the gamut from insightful to awkward to downright disturbing. On that scale, a recent Fox News segment measured right around facepalm. As part of an apparently reoccurring portion of the Fox and Friends program called "PC Police" in which our fearless hosts call out over the top societal trends designed to offend the fewest people possible, they took on the topic of gender neutral bathrooms. In this case, it was a new sign for bathrooms at Illinois State University depicting a blue and pink character with a man's upper torso and a woman's lower torso. The folks at Fox were flummoxed. They just could not figure out what the hell it meant. Out to the man in the street for confirmation!
In Houston, we've been fighting our own little battle over protection for the transgendered. After Houston City Council passed the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) in May, it didn't take long for those opposed to such a concept to gather enough petitions to force a ballot referendum on the issue this fall. Predictably, the biggest concern is men wantonly relieving themselves in the women's bathrooms or something.
When Fox took up the topic, no doubt they expected the people they had gathered -- "Fox fans" they called them -- to be as incredulous as they were. Then, something happened.
Pretty much every one of them responded with a collective "Um, that's for a family restroom where both men and women can enter, idiot." The first up was a kid followed by a line of others who concurred. The only question from the panel was why the characters were blue and red, "other than it being politically correct" one man said.
That's right, the one element this group of randomly chosen strangers (ahem) believed to be politically correct were the patriotic colors. They simply could not figure out, otherwise, what the big deal was.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
And we find it hard to imagine the people gathering this crowd of "Fox fans" picked people at random. Sure, it's New York City, but a couple of them looked like tourists and the final interviewee had a Texas drawl. Genders were clearly defined among this group and dare we say it seemed like a pretty normal, middle of the road group of white Americans...who couldn't figure out why Fox was confused by what the show called a "bathroom boondoggle."
Steve Doocy threw it back to the hosts by saying, "That's the question we had and that's the answer we got." Ouch.
Back at the studio, co-host Brian Kilmeade dropped this retort, "Well, they're better people than us. I could not figure it out and we had the story in front of us." No debating these people are better, but let's not pretend you didn't know exactly what you are doing. We'd all love to say, "Look at these Fox morons. They don't even know what a sign means," but of course they did. They just assumed everyone else would find this random sign to be horribly offensive or weird or terrifying or whatever, and they didn't.
Turns out, the people Fox chose to interview are better than the Fox and Friends talent. Shocker.