Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Breaking News

Apparently, the creator of "Glee" has now weighed in on the Newsweek article, calling for a boycott of the magazine. Read about it here.

And another thing: my review of "Is He Dead?" is in this week's Style. Check it out!

UPDATE: There have been a slew of responses to the whole Newsweek dust-up but here's another one that I like. There are a bunch of good lines in this one but the key line to me is near the conclusion: 'Actors who come out aren’t “distracting” except to those who are invested, for emotional or ideological reasons, in remaining distracted by them.' I agree.


Andrew said...

Not a single person with whom I've discussed this Newsweek article has actually read it before opining on its homophobia. Please read before you judge. His point may be clumsy and not very well phrased, but it's a valid one, and one that's not at all homophobic. The statement is more about what we as audience members accept than anything else.

I recommend reading it here:

Then reading the author's response to Chenoweth:

Dave T said...

I had read the original article but had not read the author’s response. Thanks for posting a link to it.

I agree that the author touches on an issue with some validity and when I first started to read it, I thought my response was going to be posting a defense of the typical over-reaction when a critic touches upon an incomfortable truth. But in the end, I think his article goes beyond making a point and dips into the homophobic and finally, into nearly irresponsible and overstated generalities.

For instance, this on J. Groff: “When he smiles or giggles, he seems more like your average theater queen, a better romantic match for Kurt than Rachel.” OK first, which “average” theater queen is he talking about? I know many of the theater geeks at my daughter’s high school, most of them play soccer and one of the male lead of their last musical wants to go to VMI. In an era full of effeminate heterosexuals, butch gay men, and lipstick lesbians, affect doesn’t necessarily translate into sexual identity. For every viewer who thought Groff was somehow “too gay,” I expect there were a dozen or more who thought he was a fine match for Rachel. And again, the Spring Awakening example is a striking one: Groff wasn’t just hetero in that show, but agressively so.

Another line from the original article: “The fact is, an actor's background does affect how we see his or her performance.” Actually, the fact is that most viewers don’t know much of anything about most actors’ background and what they think they know is usually twisted or distorted. Even more important, few viewers care.

The author doesn’t do himself any favors with his defense either, in my opinion. About a “Promises, Promises” review, he says: “This, to me, is code: it's a way to say that Hayes's sexual orientation is getting in the way of his acting without saying the word gay.” To me, this is the author accusing a critic of not beign frank in his appraisal. If I were that critic, I’d be pissed. (An aside: in a recent review, I said about the star of “Sex Drugs Rock & Roll” “his movements [were] a little too, well, white.” I could’ve used something else there, perhaps something more attenuated. I didn’t. I expect the same is true for the Times reviewer. If he meant Hayes being gay was somehow a problem, I think he would have said it.)

This line kills me: “When was the last time you saw a movie starring a gay actor?” My response: how the hell do you KNOW? Amd why the hell should you CARE? If Taylor whats-is-face from “Twilight” or Scarlett Johannson came out tomorrow, would they stop being hot? Would we have to reevaluate their performances through that lens? If we can have color-blind casting, why can’t we have sexuality-blind casting?

In the end, my problem with the original article is that the author writes about something that is his opinion and presents it as somehow “a problem,” one that has no solution. The only solutions I can think of are reprehensible: Gay actors should stay in the closet in case they are ever called upon to play straight. (Oh, and I guess Christian actors should keep their faith quiet lest they are ever have to play a Jew or a Muslim.) Or is the author suggesting that actors need to only play characters that are just like themselves? Or that they need to be hyper-vigilant about their private lives so that nothing ever leaks out about who they really are? None of these options seem viable.

If I’m totally missing the intent of the article’s author, then I’d be happy for someone else to enlighten me. Really.

Frank Creasy said...

Well, the author of the Newsweek article goes on in another link to respond to Kristen Chenowith, saying he wanted to start a dialogue. But he started a dialogue by making broad prejudicial assertions. I'd agree his most troubling assertion is that the vast majority of the audience can't get past a gay actor's sexual orientation if the actor is playing straight. Knowing gay actors who play straight most of the time, I really do find that troubling, because I don't see things that way, personally, so the writer certainly doesn't speak for ME. So his broad indictment is rather disturbing.

I have to wonder if the author's own skewed focus based on HIS sexual orientation unduly affects everything he perceives in an actor's performance. Before all this blew up, someone I know and respect said they had seen Sean Hayes's performance, and that it simply wasn't very good. But there was no mention of his sexual orientation and how it affected his performance - it was just stated that they thought his performance was just not good, period. In other words: It's the PERFORMANCE, stupid, not the sexual orientation! I don't view Olivier's "Hamlet" any differently based on my knowledge of his sex life.

So if the author wanted to open a dialogue, fine - IF the dialogue is about overcoming prejudice against gay actors. That would be great. But it seemed he simply opened a dialogue about his OWN prejudice and insecurity rather than seeking any productive outcome.

Maybe the Newsweek writer just needs to go get some more therapy, and let the rest of us go and enjoy performances of actors of whatever sexual orientation (which is none of our damned business and has nothing to do with their performances).

Andrew said...

I agree that the article is badly-written and written by an idiot. I just don't think it's necessarily homophobic or hateful, and DEFINITELY not worth all the brouhaha it has inspired.

Andrew said...

Aaron Sorkin's response is the best. I withdraw my own comments and subscribe to his. :)