N. Ireland’s Homophobic Mrs. Robinson Gets Song Shout Outs

by Steve Weinstein

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday January 15, 2010

If you saw the movie The Graduate (and if you didn't shame on you), you'll instantly get the reference as soon as you hear the opening chords and those delightful "dee-dee-dee's": "Mrs. Robinson," the signature song from that landmark countercultural film.

The scene the song so poetically conveys is that of the cockeyed universe of Mrs. Robinson, a middle-aged woman who seduces her best friends' young son and then abandons him. The movie and song showed the scars--as well as the growth--involved in a much younger man's affair with a woman who now would be described as a cougar.

The song has been given a new lease on life in Northern Ireland, thanks to the tawdry scandal of a real-life Mrs. Robinson.

As a lawmaker and the wife of the province's first minister, Iris Robinson was the most powerful female politician in that troubled part of Great Britain. She made headlines last summer when she claimed gays could be "cured" and that homosexuality was sick and against God's order.

Then, earlier this month, she was caught in a sex scandal with a man, then 19. The news followed the announcement late last year that she would not run for re-election because she was being treated for severe depression.

But it didn't end there. It turned out that the real-life Mrs. Robinson may have been involved in some financial chicanery. The BBC accused her of bankrolling her young paramour's pub-and-restaurant business.

The young man, Kirk McCambley, has become something of a minor folk hero for helping to expose Mrs. Robinson and to help get out of office. A Facebook homage page contains items for sale and a statement of support.

Meanwhile, a campaign to get Simon and Garfunkel's hit song, now 40 years old, back on the U.K. charts has gained momentum. The song has entered the U.K.'s top 25 and is rising fast. After only a day of sales, it soared on the charts.

The Pink Paper reported that banners promoting the song have appeared all over Northern Ireland's Assembly building in Belfast and throughout the city. The campaign has gone international and even Boy George tweeted about it.

And what about the real-life Benjamin, Kirk McCambley? He's apparently gone into hiding. The editor of Attitude, a popular U.K. gay magazine, wants to put the handsome buck on the cover.

Inevitably, the song has inspired a YouTube tribute. A couple of Irishmen have done a satiric version of the song that recaps the real Mrs. Robinson's saga. The song was done by Irish comic Keith Law, and even if you don't get the local references, it still works:

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).