Saturday, January 22, 2011

So GLAAD to Be a Gay

As I'm sure you ascertained from this recent blog post, GLAAD and I are not on very good terms. We often disagree on what constitutes a "positive" portrayal of gay life in movies and TV--they either like nice, quiet gays coming out of the closet or loud, in-your-face crusaders while I tend to prefer characters with a little more shading or, heaven forbid, an evil gay--so it pisses me off that this lousy group is supposed to be "representing" me and my best interests. Anyways, they recently announced the nominees for their Media Awards, so I thought it would be fun to take a gander at what they thought was the best in gay cinema this past year.

Outstanding Film - Wide Release
  • Burlesque
  • Easy A
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

I haven't seen The Girl Who Played With Fire--hell, I barely made it through The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo--but I have seen the rest so let's tackle them in alphabetical order. As a film, Burlesque is a heaping pile of shit. Not even Cher in all of her Cher glory nor an impressive star turn from Cam Gigandet can save this Fosse-wannabe from being anything but a joyless, soulless imitation of far better films. With that being said, the depiction of homosexuality in Burlesque, even the "gay stuff" that extends far beyond Stanley Tucci's character, didn't offend me in the slightest. Actually, I quite enjoyed the films enthusiasm for treating Cher like the God of the Gays she is and for giving into every cliché you'd expect from a Gay Romp like this: Glitter? Check. Belting divas? Check. Catfights? Check. Cher being a bitch? Check. Cher looking fiercer in outfits than many women half her age? Check. For once, I believe GLAAD is looking beyond the surface as to what a "gay" film means and for that I must, gulp, applaud them.

Know we are up to Easy A and I'm afraid this love fest must end. I know, that was quick. Listen, I thought Dan Byrd was hilarious and his chemistry with Emma Stone made their witty repartée that much funnier, but to suggest that his character's representation of a gay male is either positive or progressive is grossly offensive. This is a character who asks a friend to help make other people in his school think he's straight by pretending to have sex with him because he's too much of a pussy to ignore the haters and thinks that things will get magically better when he goes to college. The whole scene where he asks Emma Stone to help him was so uncomfortable for me to watch both times I've seen the movie. Maybe it's because my own personal philosophy has always been to either come out or shut up but never, ever pass for straight, but I can't stand behind him as any sort of positive role model.

I wasn't a big fan of The Kids Are All Right, but even I can't argue about it's importance as a gay film. Sure, I do have a reservation or two about that fact that when Julianne Moore's character has an affair it is with a man and not another woman, but I obviously understand why it happens and it's necessity to the story. Doesn't mean I have to agree, though. Either way, this film is on it's way to an easy win so congrats!

And, finally, we have Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I liked this film far more than I ever thought I would. The trailer made it seem overly quirky, even by my standards, but in the finished product, everything sort of fell into place. Keiran Culkin plays the gay roommate of Michael Cera's Scott Pilgrim and while I liked the character, once again I'm not sure if it was entirely a "good" gay creation. Culkin's character Wallace is wickedly funny, yet he also steals his female best friend's date, has sex with him while in a relationship with another guy and then tells Scott when he questions it that, basically, it's okay for him to do it because he's gay. In the words of Cher Horowitz, "As if!" How revolting. With that being said, I did enjoy that Wallace and Scott's friendship was never once threatened by his homosexuality; Scott could care less either way. That's quite a big leap forward in the depiction of gay/straight male friendships in the movies.

So, all in all, not exactly a bad batch of films here. The only one I would be quick to replace is Easy A, although I'm not exactly sure what to replace it with. Black Swan, perhaps? And as much as I bitch about GLAAD, let's all be grateful that they didn't go for something completely horrible like, as Glenn suggests, Kick-Ass or even Valentine's Day for that dumb "twist" ending.


RJ said...

Your shit talking of Burlesque is why I like reading your stuff. Gays can hate campy shit just as much as anyone else.

Dame James said...

And that's why I enjoy having you as a reader. I never know quite what to expect from you :). Thanks!