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Originally published in Honcho magazine - August, 1996

 

HOLLYWOOD HORSESHIT

 

by Lefty Boylan (aka Michael Kirwan)

 

 

There's been something stuck in my craw for months now, and if I don't bitch about it, I'm going to punch somebody in the head. A couple of years ago when I was living in Miami, I went to a production of the gay play Jeffrey it was well-done and I enjoyed myself. Whenever the opportunity presents itself (when I can spare the cash and the material isn't too cloying or self-referential) I try to do my bit to support homo-positive art. Okay, so when the movie came out, I was still giddy from seeing Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and The Sum of Us, and thought I'd throw some box office bucks at Jeffrey despite the fact that I already knew the story from seeing the play. I'd seen all the interviews, all the "straight" actors yakking about their sensitive portrayals and the whole rigmarole. Then I went to see the film.

So I'm sitting in the theater, listening to the familiar dialogue, when there comes a time in the movie when two guys kiss. All of a sudden, there's a shot of some double-dating teens in mock movie seats reacting. The girls go "oohhh" and the boys go "Uulghh!" This scene wasn't in the play; the audience I watched the play with didn't make any particular noises at this juncture, so what was the point? Well, obviously to tip off the movie-goers that this was a "MOVIE KISS," the "ACTORS" were doing this disgusting thing, but they had to remind you that "THE KISS WASN'T REAL." What the fuck was that? Have you ever seen a movie wherein the director pulls out of the story line to emphasize that the actor isn't really a serial killer, or a wife-beater, or a cannibal, or a Nazi? Do actors in these roles feel impelled to disassociate with the heinous acts their characters perpetrate? Has anyone out there ever seen such a blatant refusal to meld actor and role? In my humble opinion, this is the most insulting nod to the gay community from Hollywood yet. The critics (including the gay press) tried to put a positive spin on Jeffrey, but that one ten-second scene was like a slap in the face. My face burned from the humiliating sense that the filmmakers had taken a nice, witty, funny piece of gay art and turned it into a homophobic declaration. For cryin' out loud, the cast had been on every crappy television show hawking the film (and mentioning their wives, girlfriends, kids, and macho regalia more often than strictly necessary), and I can't remember a time when any actor was accused of being the part they played in a movie. But apparently being thought "queer" is just too revolting, too career-threatening, and perhaps too evil for these particular thespians to abide.

I am totally over Hollywood's negative attitude toward homosexuality. Europeans, Australians, and Asians all manage to treat the subject matter with some dignity and humor. Why can't the good old U.S.A. come up with a production that isn't so tensely apologetic? Why is it that slaughtering scores of human beings is somehow okay, but when the action requires two men to show some tenderness toward each other, all of a sudden everyone gets antsy and squeamish? If an actor is too weirded-out by homo activity, if he imagines that it'll ruin him, if he finds the part too "controversial," why not just pass on it and let someone with some balls take the role? And where exactly is this "gay Mafia" that's supposedly infiltrated Hollywood? Where the fuck is their input? My advice is, if you've got a gay play or fag novel that they want for a movie, make sure there's a clause in it to protect you from the sly insult inserted into Jeffrey. In the meantime, stick to the foreign and independent flicks.

 

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