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Author Topic: Hollywood's emperor has no clothes  (Read 2541 times)

berto

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Hollywood's emperor has no clothes
« on: April 10, 2007, 05:28:18 AM »

Hollywood -- "playing gay"

Let's face it: generally Hollywood sucks (and not in a good way) when it comes to telling queer stories. Sure, there *are* exceptions, including some that are notable -- "Boys Don't Cry" leaps immediately to mind -- but more often than not the better ones that I am familiar with are indy or foreign films. (Granted, though, I am no expert on queer movies, so feel free to chime in, anyone.)

Of late, however, the efforts of Hollywood in this area have been painful to watch. Oh sure, someone's going to mention "that cowboy story".... but they were sheepherders, not cowboys, it was yet another "dead queer story" -- I am *so* beyond tired of those, even though I did just mention BDC upthread -- and besides, as usual, Hollywood had two straight boys "playing gay". (I know, I know, but it's an ongoing complaint of mine.) But despite being probably one of the gayest places on the planet, and notwithstanding Doogie Howser and T.R. Knight on the small screen, Big Screen Hollywood continues to have the closet door nailed firmly shut (with wardrobes and make-up tables stacked against it).

Michael Jensen brings us word of the latest offering, with straight actors "playing gay", Memoirs of Hadrian...

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We've pretty well documented Hollywood's ignoble history when it comes to doing historical films that include GLBT subject matter. Hollywood especially sucks at historical accuracy when it comes to the ancient world, having already given us Ben Hur, Spartacus, Troy, and Alexander with an Irish accent and blond highlights. It looks like Hollywood is going to take yet another swing at the subject matter by turning the reportedly gay-friendly and well-written novel Memoirs of Hadrian into a film.

MOH tells the story of Roman Emperor Hadrian who was known for his military prowess, as well as his love of art, philosophy, and culture. Oh, and his passion for a young feller named Antinous. (Little known fact: J. Edgar Hoover called lover Clyde Tolson, ³my little Antinous² and loved dressing up in togas before being conquered by the ³barbarians². At least that's what the National Enquirer says.)

MOH was written by French writer Marguerite Yourcenar and published in France in 1951 where it was an immediate critical and commercial success. Strangely, the book wasn't a huge hit here. Hmmm....

So how will Hollywood handle this gay storyline? On the plus side, the director is John Boorman who directed such movies as The Emerald Forest, Excalibur, Hope and Glory, and Beyond Rangoon. While I haven't loved everything Boorman has done, he's not the sort of director aiming for the commercial bullseye and willing to pander to the lowest common (homophobic) denominator to succeed.

The film is still in production, but Charlie Hunnam is already attached to play Antinous and Antonio Banderas is in talks to play Hadrian. You might know Charlie as Bosie in Cold Mountain or more recently as Patric in Children of Men. I haven't heard much one way or the other about Charlie as Antinous, but there is already a fair bit of grumbling about Banderas as Hadrian. The complaints have primarily been that a) Banderas doesn't look Roman and b) can't act. All I'll say at this point is that at least Banderas has played gay numerous times (Philadelphia, Law of Desire) and would likely be more than willing to portray a man in love with a man as opposed to, oh, say, a man who once shook hands with another man, but really, really wants to snog whatever poor starlet gets cast opposite him as the chambermaid or the Roman Senator's beautiful, but wild daughter.


I don't know Hunnan's acting well enough to speculate, but Anthony Banderas? Grooooooooooooan!!!!! Listen, if we must suffer through having straight boys "playing gay" -- and I can't see Hollywood growing up anytime soon -- can we not maybe have hotties who can actually act?! If I was casting this film, I would move heaven and earth to get George Clooney for the title role, with Johnny Depp as his romantic interest. They are both good-looking, attractive guys who have big name star power attraction, they are both excellent actors (and I could *totally* see Clooney in the Hadrian role) and while there is no question that Depp could "play gay" very convincingly -- *yum* -- I have little doubts that Clooney could, too. AND, if they did it well enough -- the entire role, as well as the gay part -- it would prolly get them both an Oscar nomination. But no, if they *do* replace Banderas, we'll probably get Freddy Prinz, or something. *sigh*

Anyways, now I've gotta track me down a copy of this book....
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Feral

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Hollywood's emperor has no clothes
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2007, 07:43:37 PM »

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I don't know Hunnan's acting well enough to speculate,


He is (just a guess) best known for playing 'Nathan' in the original British series Queer as Folk. I have not heard that anyone thinks his acting is sub-par, or that he is unable to effectively play gay characters. The tricky bit will be for him to effectively play a younger character. Antinous died no older than 20. Mr. Hunnam is currently 27 (as of today, as it happens... Happy Birthday, Charlie). Some actors can manage this trick and some cannot.

Antinous was worshipped as a god and is today as well -- the Bono Deo Iuventutis Invicti. A certain sensitivity seems called for when casting such a character. Not, mind you, that sensitivity is ever much in evidence concerning pagan faiths.
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berto

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Hollywood's emperor has no clothes
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2007, 08:53:32 PM »

Ahhh, yes, but don't'cha thing Clooney and Depp would *kill* in these roles?
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Feral

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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2007, 10:32:58 PM »

If the story were about someone other than Antinous, I'd agree -- Clooney and Depp would make a fine romantic pairing. Were I to attempt to do something so potentially blasphemous as casting an actor to play one of the gods, I'd do so with a great deal of care. As fond as I am of the work of Mr. Depp, he's just too old to play Antinous. "Invincible Youth" means a great many things, but first and foremost is that it is young. I'd be more inclined to scour the theater departments of universities for an otherwise unknown actor who is 18 to 20, preferably 18. After all, you don't want the blush fading from that rose before filming is over and projects like this can take quite a while to finish.
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"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."

berto

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Hollywood's emperor has no clothes
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2007, 05:03:46 PM »

Here's an actor who's not only out and proud, but who is also active politically on behalf of queers:

Living Out Loud: Eric Millegan makes no bones about being a gay actor

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On the surface, an openly gay actor, one who majored in musical theater in college, may not run against the grain. But Eric Millegan is not one to be summed up and dismissed. The baby-faced 32-year-old -- New Jersey native by birth, Oregonian by rearing -- is full of surprises.

[...]

Add to this his out of the ordinary career that has moved from incredible East Coast stage success in shows such as Harold and Maude: The Musical, Waiting for the Glaciers to Melt and Constellations, to a Los Angeles-based role on FOX Television's Bones as Dr. Zack Addy.

Though Millegan is maintaining a pace that's allowed him no time off for the past two years, he's adding some support for the community into the mix. When the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund holds its seventh annual champagne brunch on Sunday, April 22, Millegan will serve as emcee. The D.C.-based Victory Fund works to get qualified, openly GLBT candidates elected to office.

[...]

Metro Weekly: Why your involvement with the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund?

Eric Millegan: One of the great things about the Victory Fund that I'm learning is it's not even about the politics, Republican or Democrat. They just want to increase the number of out officials so straight politicians can see that there are politicians who are gay. Then maybe when they are dealing with legislation that might be anti-gay, they'll think, "Wait, this person I worked with is gay. So when I'm talking about gays I'm talking about someone I work with as well."

MW: Is that important in the same sense as you being out in your profession?

Millegan: The thing that's similar between me being out in Hollywood and people being out in politics is about how secrets can be more damaging than the truth. If I wasn't out, everybody would be talking about how I am gay. I'd have to deal with all the stuff being said on the Internet about how I had a relationship with so-and-so. But when you're open and honest about who you are, then it short-circuits people who would use the secret against you. I think it's the same thing in politics. People who are out just don't have to deal with people trying to expose that they are gay to hurt them.

But the Victory Fund is just about showing there are gay people in the real world so let's have them in Congress and in other leadership positions. I definitely feel that when I go and vote that I have to vote as a gay person. Part of me might ask, "Should a group specifically be trying to raise money for gay candidates just because they're gay?" But it's important because it increases awareness and it gives us representation now in the political field.

[...]

... I do think that it's important to have openly gay voices in politics. I think that's also true with sports -- the whole basketball thing with Tim Hardaway saying he hates gays. It would be great if someone he likes -- because he says he would never want a gay person in the locker room with him -- who has been in the locker room with him, who played basketball with him, who he has liked, says, "I'm gay." Then he'd have to say it's one thing to hate gays, but it's another thing to hate this specific person.

The Victory Fund is all about helping people get to know gays and lesbians as their friends, their neighbors, co-workers, representatives -- like the NBA thing -- getting people out there so people can see that gay people aren't just a concept, they're real people.


More # link...
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"The dignity of an animal is measured by his capacity to revolt in the face of oppression." -- Mikhail Bakunin

berto

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Hollywood's emperor has no clothes
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2007, 04:39:28 AM »

Afterelton asks, What Ever Happened to Queer Cinema?

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Oscar Night 2006 feels like a million years ago. You remember – it's the night that Brokeback Mountain, although being shamelessly robbed of its deserved Best Picture statuette, still managed to take home three awards. It's the night that Philip Seymour Hoffman's gay novelist squeaked past Heath Ledger's gay cowboy in the Best Actor race. Felicity Huffman was up for Best Actress for playing an MTF in Transamerica. And at the previous day's Independent Spirit Awards, pioneering queer filmmaker Gregg Araki was basking in multiple nominations for Mysterious Skin, a film considered to be a high watermark in an already remarkable career.

GLBT stories had made it to the grown-up's table. More importantly, they'd made it to the multiplex where they were enjoying both good reviews and impressive box-office tallies. The terrain was changing.

So what happened?


My own take on it? I've heard this crap about how "_______ has changed everything" and "things are going to be different now" and "a watershed moment has been reached" long before BBM. I heard it with  "Making Love", I heard it with "The Crying Game", I heard it with "Philadelphia", I heard it with "Angels in America", I heard it with "Boys Don't Cry", I heard it "Brokeback Mountain"... it's all a pile of crap. Hollywood is only interested in what they can exploit and make money off of, and the simple fact of the matter is that Middle America doesn't *want* to see actual fags and lezzies in their movies. They'll accept straight actors portraying fags and lezzies, as long as it's another "dead fag story" à la 'Boys Don't Cry' or 'Brokeback Mountain' where they can shed a tear, say "that's SO sad" and then turn around and vote for Republicans who will deny our human rights and portray us as a "danger to children" who should not be allowed to teach in schools, work as caregivers, or adopt our own children.

To paraphrase the anti-racism activist who was commenting on bigotry in America, "the reason the United States is a homophobic nation is because there's so damn many homophobes."

If Afterelton thinks otherwise, or that things have somehow magically changed because of "Brokeback Mountain" (or "Making Love", or "The Crying Game", or "Philadelphia", or "Angels in America", or "Boys Don't Cry").... they are deluding themselves.
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"The dignity of an animal is measured by his capacity to revolt in the face of oppression." -- Mikhail Bakunin
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