Sunday, June 14, 2009

John Carter of Mars. Dustin Lance Black of California

Today's one-post-that-really-ought-to-be-two-posts's theme is gratuitous nudity.

Let's start with John Carter of Mars. My disappointment that the film would not be a Pixar animated effort (I was quite excited at the prospect of a 'toon that wasn't for little children and for Pixar to spread their current excellence into other genres) has been somewhat tempered knowing that Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo) will be trying his hand at live action (interesting). I like Taylor Kitsch who'll be playing the titular role. Anybody who watches Friday Night Lights knows that there's a nice unforced depth to his acting that you couldn't really see in his cameo in Wolverine. Lynn Collins (also from Wolverine) will play his eventual betrothed Dejah Thoris. Coming Soon reports that Thomas Haden Church may be appearing in the film as well. Since the role is supposed to be very dramatic and Church is a "name" I'm assuming we're talking about a substantial role. Maybe it's Tars Tarkas, the four armed martian warrior who begins the narrative as John's enemy only to become his ally. We're early in pre-production still.

In most depictions of this famous pulp series both John Carter and Dejah are nude or wearing itty bitty teeny weeny strips of cloth. Now, I'm no master swordsman but I feel very safe in stating that it's probably not a good idea to sword fight naked. Only try that if you're a quasi immortal like John Carter. In the book when John Carter first arrives in Mars (transported mysteriously from the Civil War era south) he's completely starkers. One expects that the movie will find a way to cover the hero up throughout, Hollywood cameras being so frightened of nudity, even when the bodies they're looking at are as perfectly sculpted as Kitsch's.

Speaking of perfectly sculpted gratuitous nudity...

As you may have heard elsewhere on the net this weekend, a certain famous "hated" blog posted explicit pictures of Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black
(Milk) that were taken in 2006. As one might expect a round of hypocritical judgments and holier than thou proclamations could be heard 'round the net. You see this reaction all the time: bad workplace decisions, bad parenting decisions, bad financial decisions, you name it... any mistake that is or becomes public is followed by faux horror and "what was he/she thinking?!?" as if the chorus of naysayers had never themselves and would never themselves experience a similar lapse in judgment or (in this case) experience a betrayal from a former friend.

I was disheartened to read the judgments... People were even putting Black's activist heroics in the past tense! Do people really think that gay marriage advocacy can't be performed by a person who has sex (GASP! and: um...who doesn't?). So I was happy to read on Pink is the New Blog that Dustin was honored this weekend in California for something else entirely and seems to be handling this invasion of privacy like a pro i.e. apologizing for the right detail and ignoring the rest. Well done. Move on.

P.S. First Diablo Cody and now Dustin Lance Black... since when do Oscar winning screenwriters become celebrities in their own right? And now it's happened in back to back years. Weird, that.


mB said...

Re: the PS (since most of your post is spot-on, who knew advocacy came at the cost of daily toils and troubles with a dash of unwise decisions?)

I'm actually enjoying this whole 'screenwriter-turned-celebrity' if only because it shines light on what must be one of the most underappreciated roles of filmmaking (though, we could go further: can cinematographers start becoming celebrities? Were the Oscar telecast hinting at that, perchance?). I'd love for people to start searching for films/TV series because of writers, but then I am one to say off-handledly that I love "Jane Espenson episodes of Buffy"... so maybe I'm already biased :P

Rob said...

"P.S. First Diablo Cody and now Dustin Lance Black... since when do Oscar winning screenwriters become celebrities in their own right?"

When the Oscar winning screenwriters happened to be hot, young people. Not too tough to figure out.

NoNo said...

To be honest I don't see why people are up in arms about Black's pictures and I'm not going to look at them (because I feel bad for him). That doesn't change what I feel about him and I'm sure there not as a bad as they seem. Everyone thinks that a celebrity shouldn't take nude photos because they will leak when I'm sure that there are hundreds of them who have and have managed to keep them private (A few of them admit it).

Douglas Racso said...

We have the same issue here in the Philippines. Apparently one quotable "hot" doctor takes videos of his sexcapades, unluckily for him the videos leaked. Turns out that one of his sexcapades is with a rising hot young actress. The actress sued the hell out of the doctor and wants the doctor to lose his license and claims that she was bastardized blah blah blah. They even brought the issue to the senate, which I think is stupid because doesn't the senate have anything better to do and they are even sparing time to discuss this over say AH1N1 virus?

If (actress) Katrina Halili will just follow Dustin Lance Black's example, then she would not be that hurt. Rub it all off. She is not going to get anything from it in the end. The videos will still be there. The damage is done move on and do something far special with her young life.

Derreck said...

I posted this on the Open Discussion thread, but it seems more appropriate here.

while unfortunate, i don't believe that something like this will have such a negative effect as some people have described. Other stars like Vanessa Williams, Sylvester Stallone and more have been caught with indecent photos/videos and have gone on to successful careers. I think i even remember Brad Pitt having some full-frontal nudes taken of him...even with him with his member between his legs like a vadge. :P
this might seem like big news now, but after a while, it will die down and be forgotten, and Black will be able to go on as a great writer. The crowd is fickle. It will be super difficult and embarrasing for him, but to say that his dignity and all the stuff he has done to be erased is kind of jumping the gun.

BBats said...

nudity = fame, yo.

Anonymous said...

I would not have had any problem with the photos themselves, per se, except Mr. Black was engaging in unprotected sex which is completely irresponsible. Ironic that an image of the AIDS quilt appears at the end of Milk and Mr. Black is exposed as engaging in behavior that spreads HIV - virus that causes AIDS. Like the film, I am sure there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of young, impressionable gay teens that look up to Mr. Black now that he has won an Oscar. It is extremely disappointing that Mr. Black's previous actions now gives these impressionable young gays that barebacking and getting bred is acceptable and even cool.

I also find it disheartening that Nathaniel not only calls anyone who criticizes Mr. Black a hypocrite, but also doesn't even mention WHY some are critical (unprotected sex NOT just some sex tape).

JoFo said...

I'm the first person to be advocating for safe sex, but I also think its totally reasonable for two people in a committed relationship who know everything about one another to not have to do it, if its definitely safe.

Wasn't he in a committed relationship at this point?

Such a shame he should be embarrassed by something stupid like this.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone even know the circumstances of the relationship? Too many appear to be on this tangent that gay men and unprotected sex automatically equals HIV/AIDS. If these two men were both tested negative and in a mutually monogamous relationship, why should they use condoms if they chose not to? These conversations about sex, HIV/AIDS, and every damn else in general have got to evolve beyond (Insert ANY issue) = BAD.



anon 8:42... I'm generalizing sure but I do think the human race has problems, like 'epidemic' problems, with hypocrisy. I'm sure I do too. Every time i watch the news i get sick to my stomach at all the clucking as if nobody who is ever asked to comment on anything with a microphone shoved in their face has ever made a mistake in their life.

and i'm not just talking about sex. i'm talking about everything. I think there's a distinct lack of compassion in news, blogging, pop culture.

This set me off because I hate hate hate the faux horror that's always expressed in the media when a celebrity has sex or nude pictures. As if the people reporting on it and people reading about it don't. I used to work in a photo development shop in high school before everything went digital. Back then people KNEW that if they took nude or sexual photos of yourself that other people would be developing/seeing them.

and here's my point: They still took them. Tons and tons and tons of people still took them. I was young and totally scandalized at the time. ;)

I can't imagine what the percentages are like now that everyone has the capacity to enjoy pictures entirely privately.

YES it's sad that the pictures featured unsafe sex (I did mention it "apologizing for the right things") but I think it's totally unfair to judge someone harshly for something in their past because of their new fame.

wrap up: I don't care what he did in 2006 personally. I'm just glad he stood up at the Oscars in 2009 in front of hundreds of millions and told it like it is.

I respect your passion on the subject. I just haven't liked the general tone of the coverage elsewhere so maybe I tipped a little extreme in the other direction.

Rob hmmm. isn't there more to it. Haven't there been hot young writers before?

mB Jane Espenson for the win. Can you believe she's never even been nominated for an award. ARGH. Her "awards" field on IMDB is totally blank.

Anonymous said...

I don't know the exact nature of their relationship, although Nathaniel refers to the equally troubling guy as Mr. Black's former "friend" and not boyfriend, lover or partner. In addition, if Mr. Black cannot trust the guy to not reveal intimate photos and video of their time together, then I am not sure how Mr. Black can trust him with his life. (People cheat, forge tests, AND we don't know if they even discussed/got tested)


and I'm with val on this one too. We will be able to begin to do the hard work on solving / improving a LOT of societal issues surrounding sex -- not just disease -- if people can ever get away from the 'sex=bad' equation.

BUT HOW ABOUT THAT JOHN CARTER OF MARS. has anyone read the books?

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel - We will be able to begin to do the hard work on solving / improving a LOT of societal issues surrounding sex -- not just disease -- if people can ever get away from the 'sex=bad' equation.

I NEVER said sex=bad. Hell, I like to get baaaad myself but with protection. Unless I have been in a committed relationship for a few YEARS, I am not engaging in unprotected sex. But that is my decision. My point is that Mr. Black is a writer who won a prestigious award for a work that (due to its subject) concerns sexual politics, therefore, this situation is quite different than some Paris Hilton tape.

Oh, and if Mr. Black doesn't experience discrimination/homophobia from this situation then he will get a career BOOST like Paris, Kim Kardashian, etc. Now THAT is what's hypocritical in the media, not the mere criticism or mention.

Douglas Racso said...

I think that if the guy is his one and only partner, and they are practicing monogamy, I do not think that there is an issue at all.

Runs Like A Gay said...

On the subject of John Carter of Mars (an infitely safer discussion topic, I think), whilst I am curious to see what Pixar do with it I can't help but think that it's missing a couple of tricks.

First, I'd like to see this animated - when you consider how the rest of the World seems able to produce animated films for adults the states is well behind the curve. And surely the talent available in Pixar should be able to put together a stunning film that captures the animated aesthetic with a distinctly grown-up tone.

I'm also not sure Stanton is the man for the job. Wouldn't Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The incredibles) be a more natural fit for an action adventure?

Douglas Racso said...

hmmm I think that john carter of mars may go extremely either ways. It may be really bad a la Elektra. Or it can go Spider-Man or Dark Knight.

Davey said...

I think it's nice that screenwriters are getting some added celebrity status nowadays. It of course probably is for all the wrong reasons, but that's the culture we're in. But if that celebrity places added emphasis on the work and the craft itself, maybe it'll give some more respect to screenwriters and writers in general, and that's a welcomed thing.

I'll be one of those "don't ever film yourself fucking" holier than thou people for a minute, though none of this diminishes in my mind how great Dustin Lance Black has handled this, or lessen the work he's done for the gay community, or invalidate the worthiness of his Oscar win for "Milk." It's unfortunate and embarassing that this had to happen to him and that he was betrayed by a former lover, and I truly feel for him, but what's done is done, and hopefully now it'll just be one of those "yeah, whatever" things that we know about in the back of our heads but get over fairly quickly and just move on from.

And to be honest, he might just get the last laugh from all of this after all. It certainly doesn't hurt matters that Dustin's body is insanely hot and his um, equipment is, yeah . . . there's no such thing as bad publicity . . .

Rob said...

I know we all are obligated to love Dustin Lance Black if we're gay, so let me play the asshole for the moment:

1) I'm sorry, but he is not a "great writer." The screenplay is easily the weakest aspect of MILK, and according to some in the know, DLB's draft was heavily re-written to end up with what we got.

2) The uproar has nothing to do with HIV or that he had pictures taken during sex, but that he's seen barebacking in them, when he's been outspoken about how important safe sex is in the gay community (bringing up that 'hypocrisy' Nathaniel talked about). Trust me, considering his '35-year-old twink' looks and how the gay community treats their celeb-heroes, I have no doubt the publicity would be nothing but positive were he not having unprotected sex in these pictures.

3) Are people really buying that he was in a 'long-term relationship' with this guy?

Iggy said...

I've decided not to look at Lance Black's pictures.
I made that mistake with Colin Farrell's and now every time I see him in a movie, it's hard not to remember his mmmm... farrelly.

If I were him, the only thing I'd regret would be having trusted (and you need to trust someone to have unprotected sex) someone who obiously wasn't reliable.

But what really pisses me off about these kind of stories is that the people (whatever media that published them, I don't know) who bought the pictures never get judged for it. Everyone focuses on the content and on judging Black in this case, but never on the dealer of the photos. Is it more morally acceptable to pay for private pictures than to have unprotected sex with your partner?
Because if it really is, as they say, "stop the world I want to get off".

Douglas Racso said...

i agree with iggy 100% :)

But anyways. I really admire how DLB handles the issue. I think that we should not judge him but what he did in the past, but look at what he is doing today.

The problem with media nowadays is that they wait for celebrities (or any well known people) to fuck up. Scandal sells.

AlE said...

and according to some in the know, DLB's draft was heavily re-written to end up with what we got.

By whom? Gus Van Sant? Someone else? Why didn't he/she get a co-writing credit then? Isn't it par for the course for screenplays to sometimes differ greatly from what is written to what makes it on the screen? Is that necessarily the screenwriter's fault, or the fault of an exacting director?

As for the unprotected sex part, I was more taken aback by the possibility of a longterm partner doing this to him than anything else. That shows a clear violation of basic trust, so if that can be violated, then who's to say that the guy DLB was barebacking with was really clean either? That's the message I'm worried about most. If you're in "love" and "trust" the other person, no matter how long you've known each other, safety is a casualty along with common sense. I don't know the details of that relationship, but something about all of this really comes off as vile and coldhearted. He didn't deserve this blow to his reputation like that, not when he's carving out his mark as a truly talented and out Hollywood player.

Rob said...

Rewrites very often go uncredited due to specific WGA rules.

And why are you all assuming he was in love with and "deeply trusted" the dude barebacking him in the pictures? A large portion of the disappointment/backlash is that this appeared to be a potentially random, drunken (look at Black's face in the first picture -- that's a drunkface if I've ever seen one) hookup that he let fuck him without a condom.

I'm not assuming this is definitely the case, but it seems strange that all of you are giving DLB the benefit of the doubt on every single detail of this story ("It must have been a long-term boyfriend for him to get barebacked!" "They must have been in love!" "He must have deeply trusted this guy to let him take pictures!")

Ted said...

All this story does for me is remind me of how bitter I am that his mediocre and formulaic screenplay won an Oscar amidst much better options. Apparently I have trouble moving on.

Jake said...

I don't believe that "Milk" was "rewritten" anymore than a normal screenplay would in going through the process of page to screen.

Here's Dustin Lance Black's statement on the matter:

"It is unfortunate that individuals and other outside parties are trying to profit from material which is clearly private," Black said in the statement released to me Friday afternoon. "I have had the privilege to speak to people across the country, both gay and straight, on a number of critical issues including safe sex. More important than the embarrassment of this incident is the misleading message these images send. I apologize and cannot emphasize enough the importance of responsible sexual practices."


rob but why not give him the benefit of the doubt?

ted i wouldn't have handed him the Oscar either BUT I do know the feeling of having trouble moving on from Oscar decisions ;)

the good girl said...

What, there are Diabo Cody's porn pictures out there ??

Where have I been ?

Is she a real noiraude ?

elodie said...

I think he was just shooting an early draft of Milk.

He sure is taking it like a pro (no pun intended)

Sally Belle said...

I am so sick of all the gossip and hate mongering blogs and websites. Do we have to live our lives judging celebrities as if they weren't human, and as humans, prone to making embarrassing decisions or putting themselves in embarrassing positions or maybe just saying something embarrassing? Holy crap, as long as they're not hurting anyone else, give them a fucking break. Most people who live in the public eye aren't there just to be in the public eye.

Black, like so many other crucified celebrities, are trying to do what they love...write, act, make music...whatever. Our culture makes them celebrities...and apparently, public property.

Nathaniel...I hope that you will never again link to any of these lowlife gossip bloggers again, as you see the kind of shit they're up to. "He that shall not be named" is making millions, and has become a celebrity himself with his no class "journalism".

I think Black has handled this with aplomb and should be proud of himself for not sinking to their level.


sally i don't think i've ever linked to the one you're referring to (i don't read the site and i find it depressing that so many people do when it's so vicious) but i do occasionally link to gossip blogs. I read a few.

I guess I should thank reality television for keeping my gossip diet at a minimum though. I don't care a rat's ass about reality television stars (not "stars" to me. just people who are exhibitionists) really and that's all the gossip blogs seem to care about: heidi & spencer who??? what movies have they been in? ;)

I'm human and i think gossip is fun even though i know it's not "good"... but I do try to avoid the sites that thrive on ripping the celebs to shreds.

One thing i have noticed about Hollywood and Gossip: it's a sick two-way relationship. I swear to god every celebrity I follow on Twitter follows the one you speak of. even the ones you think of as higher class. WHY DO THEY FOLLOW HIM? I think it's like stockholm syndrome. I think Hollywood (in general... as a symbiotic mass entity) actually loves the abuse.

Wayne B. said...

Sally Belle - "I am so sick of all the gossip and hate mongering blogs and websites. Do we have to live our lives judging celebrities as if they weren't human, and as humans, prone to making embarrassing decisions or putting themselves in embarrassing positions or maybe just saying something embarrassing?"
Bravo and thank you! I completely agree. We all make mistakes and it just so happens Mr. Black's was made public, that's all. I'm sure we all have things that would embarass us to no end if they were made public.

Sally Belle said...

Remember that the others get there smut fom "him" sometimes and one untrue statement can make it's rounds on the internet until it it becomes gospel!

I just think it's a crap way to make money. Just Jared does quite well without ever saying a mean thing about anyone.

All the rest, are all the same.
Your site is far too good to include any of them.

Ryan said...

the whole dustin lance black thing makes me sick. they're really are nasty, cold-ass people out there.

thanks nathaniel for the screen-writer gone celeb bit. was needing a silver lining.