On the May 12 edition of the TBS current affairs variety show "Newscaster" comedian "Beat" Takeshi Kitano made a joke about homosexual unions during a discussion of U.S. President Barack Obama's recent comment in support of same-sex marriage. Kitano's mission as the program's resident chief commentator is to barbecue sacred cows and put an everyman spin on hard-news stories. He said that if you supported gay marriage "then eventually you would support marriage to an animal."

The other regular commentators chuckled uncomfortably, not sure exactly how far Kitano was going to take the joke, but actress Eri Watanabe was sufficiently shocked to ask him what he meant, prompting a conversation involving purported legal incest in Egypt and the bullying of children raised by homosexual couples. If Kitano had intended his initial statement as a gag, he hadn't bothered to work it into a routine. Then again, if it wasn't a joke he also didn't possess the rhetorical skills to develop his line of thinking into a coherent argument.

Which is to say, Kitano, whatever his real feelings about gay marriage, found himself with his foot lodged firmly in his mouth, and that is exactly the sort of situation he's paid huge sums of money to avoid. He is supposed to be a master of ad libs and the cuttingly truthful remark, and here he was sounding like a narrow-minded ojisan (old man) who has never had any conscious interaction with homosexuals, which is difficult to believe given that he's been a show biz fixture since the 1970s. Maybe it was an act, a calculated provocation, but Watanabe's reflexive response forced him into a defensive posture that seemed to reveal his real feelings.