A couple of weeks ago, actor Alec Baldwin issued a series of tweets rife with homophobic slurs about a journalist, George Stark, who had written a Daily Mail article about the actor’s wife tweeting during James Gandolfini’s funeral. So far, Baldwin seems to be getting a pass on a very ugly incident in what is yet another sign that, even at a time of significant advances in LGBT rights — the Supreme Court had struck down DOMA the day before Baldwin’s homophobic Twitter rant — Hollywood still has a big gay problem.
Baldwin did send an apology to GLAAD, saying that his “ill-advised attack…had absolutely nothing to do with issues of anyone’s sexual orientation.” He deleted his Twitter account (as he has before) and said he was quitting Twitter (and said he was even thinking of quitting acting); the Daily Mail removed the article about his wife Hilaria.
Meanwhile, celebrity chef Paula Deen was being dropped by the Food Network, Walmart, Target, Smithfield Foods, Ballantine Books and Novo Nordisk, the diabetes drug manufacturer after allegations surfaced of her using racial slurs and wanting to hold a “plantation style” wedding with black waiters outfitted to look like slaves.
It can be argued that Hollywood has “helped move the country forward on the issue of marriage equality ” as Glee creator Ryan Murphy recently said in USA Today. The lack of repercussions Baldwin has faced is hardly the only recent sign that Hollywood still hasn’t got over its gay problem, though, not raising so much as an eyebrow when one of its members utters hateful speech and is wary of movies that are “too gay.”
1. Baldwin hasn’t been dropped by any corporate sponsors for his violent, homophobic remarks.
Gay rights activists have called for Capitol One to drop Baldwin as a sponsor, but the company has said not a word on the issue. Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture at Media Research Center, suggests that “companies know the media won’t beat them up for keeping Baldwin on board, despite his violent threat and homophobic comments.” The reason? Baldwin belongs to what conservatives would call “the liberal elite” and, as Gainor says, “the same rules don’t apply.”
2. Major Hollywood studios backed away from Behind the Candelabra
Behind the Candelabra, acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh’s movie about Las Vegas showman Liberace and Scott Thorson, his far younger live-in lover, was shown in cinemas in the U.K. and Europe. In the U.S., it has only been shown on HBO. Big Hollywood studios were wary of the film being “too gay.” As Soderbergh said to Mother Jones, it’s “not that anyone Hollywood is anti-gay” but that the studio powers are too aware, and nervous, about the bottom line and therefore unwilling to “think outside of the box.”
3. Brett Easton Ellis says a gay actor isn’t suitable for the lead role in “Fifty Shades of Gray”
After writing on Twitter last year that he was disappointed he had not been selected to write the screenplay of the film for “Fifty Shades of Gray,” writer Bret Easton Ellis then offered some thoughts about casting, opining that actor Matt Bomer “isn’t right for Christian Grey because he is openly gay. He’s great for other roles but this is too big a game.”
Ellis probably should have stopped tweeting then and there. Instead, he claimed he was “NOT discriminating Matt Bomer because of his sexuality” but that “Fifty Shades of Grey demands an actor that is genuinely into women. Get it?!?” A few days later, he professed that he was “not a homophobe” but “a misanthrope” and “hate[s] the way homosexuality is presented in our entertainment culture.” Too bad that last Tweet wasn’t the first thing he said.
4. Actor Luke Evans does a “backwards dance” about his sexuality
In a 2002 interview with The Advocate, actor Luke Evans talked about why he had decided, from the start, to be open about his sexuality. But a decade later, after appearing in films including The Hobbit, Immortals and The Three Musketeers and amid speculation that he could be America’s first gay action star, Evans has seemed “to be doing a backwards dance”; some reports have said he was dating a female publicist in London. As Paris Barclay, who interviewed Evans for The Advocate, comments, while Americans might be ready for a gay action hero, he is not sure if they would “accept an out gay romantic lead.”
5. Hollywood backs a film by anti-gay rights science fiction writer Orson Scott Card
Activists are calling for a boycott of the not-yet-released science fiction movie Ender’s Game, to protest the anti-gay views of Orson Scott Card, the author of the novel the film is based on. Orson (who is also a co-producer of the movie) has not been at all shy about his opposition to marriage equality (he says that it is the “end of democracy in America”) and to gay rights as whole. He claims that, because the novel is set more than a century in the future, it ”has nothing to do with political issues that did not exist when the book was written in 1984″ — suggesting Card’s lack of awareness that the fight for gay rights was most certainly an issue in 1984 and way, way before.
Geeks Out is calling on people not to spend their money on the movie via its “Skip Ender’s Game” website; the group has also protested DC Comics commissioning Enders to write for the Adventures of Superman series. As a member of Geeks Out says, “Superman stands for truth, justice and the American way. Orson Scott Card does not stand for any idea of truth, justice or the American way that I can subscribe to.”
6. Hollywood rewrites history by writing out gay characters
Noting that the majority of gay characters in Hollywood’s 2012-2013 were “flamboyant, economically well-off, clean, fashionable, domesticated, sassy, or hopelessly devoted to musical theater,” Jonathan Smith offers a suggestion for gay characters in a very different genre, the ancient war epic. One has only to turn to history to find many examples, including the Sacred Band of Thebes, 300 elite soldiers of paired lovers who were allied with the Athenians fighting against the Spartans in the 4th century B.C.E.
Hollywood could also stand to redo a long list of stories from ancient Greek mythology and history. For a start, how about a movie about the Trojan War that makes the love between the hero Achilles and Patroklos (clearly depicted in Homer’s Iliad) in the center, and not that of Paris and Helen? Or one about Hercules and his love for a boy name Hylas, or Zeus’ for Ganymede, who becomes his cup bearer on Mt. Olympus?
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