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David Poland

By David Poland

Is Being Gay On The Big Screen A Win?

Fron a Slate interview with a writer who feels that Rent was ripped off, in part, from here work…
“Slate: Let me play devil’s advocate. Isn’t Rent progressive? It revolves around people with AIDS. It shows men kissing, women kissing

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18 Responses to “Is Being Gay On The Big Screen A Win?”

  1. eoguy says:

    The difference between Brokeback and a a retrogressive film like Rent “representing” and “acknowledging” gays in America is that mainstream cinema (and society as a whole, I argue) may feature depictions of gay people, but they aren’t seen as equals.
    Brokeback is a fairly standard love story — and I think that’s why some people see it as being progressive. It’s placing two members of the same sex in a plotline traditionally exclusive to a man and a woman.
    The reason it is being celebrated is because instead of saying “here’s a film about a gay man — oh yeah, and he has AIDS and is dying” it actually places some sort of merit on these characters as human beings that are individuals hindered by somewhat common strifes rather than some sort of sickness that is stereotypically delegated to a specific group of people.
    Automatically the audience is presented with characters that aren’t begging for your pity, but are instead somewhat relatable.
    For the record, I don’t think Brokeback is necessarily a film to celebrate for breaking down barriers, but it’ll be nice to see a wide release film that actually acknowledes gay characters. It’s a little thing, but to a gay teen in the middle of the U.S. it might actually mean something to see a representation on the silver screen that doesn’t envolve flamboyant button-ups or musical numbers.

  2. jeffmcm says:

    Sounds like the same movement in history that African-Americans had to make, between being represented as holy Sidney Poitier-types and then being able to be seen as ordinary people.

  3. JckNapier2 says:

    For me, the progressive thing about Rent is that it got a PG-13, with all its subject matter more or less intact. A far cry from ‘The Incredibly Cool Adventures Of Two Girls In Love (1995)’, which was a more or less chaste love story that got an R because of its core subject matter.
    Scott Mendelson

  4. Crow T Robot says:

    Reminds me of a famous Simpsons episode where the family watches a gay pride parade march down their street…
    Gay guys: “We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!”
    Lisa (annoyed): “You do this EVERY year, we ARE used to it!”
    Gay guy: “Spoil sport!”

  5. Blackcloud says:

    And then that “still in the closet” float comes along:
    Smithers: We’re gay, we’re glad…
    Patty: But don’t tell mom and dad!
    Marge: Wouldn’t it be great if that man and woman got together?
    By the way, I don’t have much sympathy for this Schulman person. “Rent” the movie is probably great for her, since it will pluck her momentarily from obscurity. Maybe a double-edged sword, but as they say, all publicity is good publicity.

  6. Blackcloud says:

    P.S. Is there anything in life to which “The Simpsons” doesn’t apply?

  7. Bruce says:

    Being “gay” isn’t exactly a great box office thing. Takes a little more to get the masses there.

  8. David Poland says:

    I think you are dead on, J-Mc.
    And interestingly, I still find that many people who love the film don’t believe that Ledger’s character is really “gay,” but does fall in love with a man…

  9. martin says:

    gay is the new retarded. young non-retarded actors playing retards because it’s good for the career. nothing more, nothing less.

  10. James Leer says:

    Yeah, nothing more, nothing less. Congrats on being reductive.
    DP, I don’t exactly get what “Brokeback Mountain” point you’re trying to articulate vis-a-vis the Schulman chick. What do you mean by the “it’s our movie” mentality and what does it have to do with what she’s saying about “Rent”?

  11. jeffmcm says:

    Yeah, it sure would be great if ANYONE HAD SEEN Brokeback Mountain so that proper discussions of it could be had and we could all know what you’re talking about.

  12. James Leer says:

    Indeed, JeffMCM — although I have seen it, and I suspect maybe one or two other posters have here.
    I suspect the “gay thing” won’t be as much of a problem for everyone as the film’s length, though I personally didn’t mind that at all. Though some scenes could seem superfluous, when you look back on the film as a whole, it adds up to nothing less than the portrait of a life.
    So, I can’t believe I’m actually looking forward to cries of “Brokeback was too long!” At least it will be a change from the totally hypothetical arguments we’re engaging in now.

  13. KamikazeCamelV2.0 says:

    So only gay actors can portray gay characters? Wow, then can people like Hilary Swank, Tom Hanks and everyone else of that ilk hand back their Oscar.

  14. jeffmcm says:

    Who’s saying that?

  15. jeffmcm says:

    I think what’s most wrong-headed in the article up-top is the statement that ‘most Americans know people who are openly gay’. I find that hard to believe considering that most states are voting for efforts to ban gay marriage.

  16. James Leer says:

    And that “knowing” automatically connotes loving or acceptance or even understanding. Schulman’s point of view is what’s retrogressive here.

  17. PandaBear says:

    “gay is the new retarded”
    I don’t know what that means but I am laughing at it. Maybe at it’s stupidity.

  18. jeffmcm says:

    Based on today’s Hot Button, imagine the awesomely amazing discussion people will have about Brokeback Mountain…
    once it’s released.

The Hot Blog

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon