We pay tribute to Professor and filmmaker Marlon Riggs, who died Tuesday. His film about gay black sexuality, "Tongues Untied," unleashed a storm of controversy for its graphic content; it was used by Senator Jesse Helms (Republican, North Carolina), to argue against government grants to the arts. Another RIGGS film was "Color Adjustment," a critique of prime time TV's myths and messages on American race relations. RIGGS was on the faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley. (Rebroadcast of 7/11/1991)
Filmmaker Marlon Riggs. His film about gay black men,"Tongues Untied," was shown on PBS last year, and it unleashed a storm of outrage in powerful right-wing circles. Sen. Jesse Helms (R, NC) even put together and distributed a seven-minute tape of scenes from the film, which, taken out of context, completely distorted Marlon Riggs' intentions. The documentary is often used by Congresspeople as an example of what's wrong with public broadcasting, and why it shouldn't be federally funded.
Film maker Marlon Riggs. His documentary about the lives of gay black men in America "Tongues Untied," airs next week on the public television series, "P.O.V." However, many PBS stations will not be showing the film, citing the films strong language and imagery. We'll also talk with three public broadcasting executives involved in the controversy: