Sep 26, 2015

Why You Shouldn't Boycott "Stonewall"

Every LGBT person knows, or should know, that on the night of June 28th, 1969, patrons of a Greenwich Village dive bar called the Stonewall Inn fought back against police harassment, starting a rebellion that would result in the decriminalization and depathologization of gay people, hundreds of gay-positive churches, thousands of gay elected officials, gay studies courses and majors at hundreds of colleges, and positive media images, including the new Stonewall movie.

Stonewall wasn't sacralized until the late 1970s, when gay historians such as John D'Emilio and Jonathan Katz seized upon it as The Moment That Changed Everything.  That contention has been  been disputed -- Stonewall got no media attention at the time, so no one outside of New York City knew that it happened.  There had already been many rebellions against harassment, and lots of gay organizations were already in operation.

It's a little simplistic to talk about "Gay Life Before/After Stonewall."

Still, it sounds more substantive, more definitive, than "Gay Life Before/After the Black Cat" or "Gay Life Before/After Compton's Cafeteria."

In the 40 years since, Stonewall has undeniably united us as a people with a history and a destiny.

I haven't seen the 2015 Stonewall movie, directed by Roland Emmerich -- it's not playing here -- but it's apparently about a young, white, clean-cut, heart-throb type guy in a 2015 haircut named Danny Winters (Troy Irvine, who has muscles and a bulge to draw in the gay male audience).

He arrives in New York from, I mean Indiana, meets a group of nonwhite, transgender, and colorfully-dressed gay hippies, and helps them overthrow the Wicked Witch of the, I mean Ed Murphy, the Big Bad who runs, I mean the Stonewall Inn.

It's not just the plot of The Wizard of Oz -- it's the plot of every colonialist movie every made, from Tarzan on down.

We now know who threw the first brick at Stonewall -- not any of the real people, who were really there, and claim the honor -- but the young, white, clean-cut, heart-throb leader of the natives, Danny Winters.

And apparently the 1960s gay people have a distinctly 2015 mentality, responding to their exploitation (with Danny's help) as if it were happening today.  No 1960s closets for them!

And apparently the heavy-handed "We Must Fight Oppression!" dialogue sounds like it comes from a movie musical, not a serious historical drama.  In this shot, one does expect them to break out to song.

But this isn't a review -- I can't review a movie I haven't seen.  It's a reflection.

Stonewall has been released.

A positive movie about LGBT people, with a gay director and some gay actors in the cast, has been written, directed, produced, and released.  

Isn't that, in itself, a cause for celebration?

See also: The Stonewall Veteran and the Bodybuilder in the Park.

Sep 23, 2015

The Beefcake is Back: Axl in Underwear on "The Middle"

Beefcake alert -- I just saw the season premiere of The Middle.  The episode itself wasn't great -- about Sue going off to college.  But Axl (Charlie McDermott) spent the entire first two acts in his underwear.

He was fully clothed most of last season.

It's nice to see the beefcake back.

I've been watching The Middle since it premiered in 2009.  It's a striking contrast to Modern Family, which comes on ABC shortly afterwards: two "family sitcoms," but the families are rich/poor, big city/small town, West Coast/Middle America, and inclusive/not-inclusive

White -- all white all the time.  Christian.  And heterosexual.  I was holding out for quirky youngest kid Brick (Atticus Shaffer) to be gay, but nope, he "discovered" girls, and now he's as hetero-horny as his brother Axl.

The flamboyantly feminine Brad, one of high schooler Sue's friends, appears occasionally.  But the joke is that no one thinks that he's gay except Sue's parents.  Not even him.

Other than that, nothing.  Not a word or a scene suggesting that same-sex desire, behavior, or identity exists.  This is a complete, utter heterosexist wasteland.

To what can we attribute this void?

Maybe the producers, Eileen Heisler and Deanne Heline believe that all gay people live in L.A. or Manhattan, so Orson, Indiana must obviously be gay-free.

Or the suits at ABC

Or the cast.  Most are not exactly gay allies:

1. Patricia Heaton (Mom Frankie), formerly the wife on the heterosexist Everybody Loves Raymond, is openly conservative, although she states that she has gay friends.  She complains that the kids of The Middle would never display themselves as sexual objects, like the kids of Glee.  Um...Axl and his friends are displayed semi-nude in nearly every episode because....?

2. Neil Flynn (Dad Mike), formerly the sardonic janitor on Scrubs, doesn't have any gay roles on his resume and hasn't made any pro-gay statements.

3. Charlie McDermott (the shirtless Axl) has played in several movies with "aren't gay people ridiculous?" jokes, such as Sex Drive (2008) and Hot Tub Time Machine (2010).

4. Eden Sher (the over-enthusiastic Sue) has a gay best friend.

5. Atticus Shaffer (Brick) had a role in the homophobic Year One (2009), but he was only 11 years old at the time, so you can't really blame him.  He hasn't made any pro- or anti-gay statements.

I guess we'll have to make do with subtexts.

See also: Raising Hope/The Middle and Brock Ciarlelli: The Uncle Tom of The Middle

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