So that controversial Newsweek article "Straight Jacket" -- which suggests that no gay actor can ever successfully play a straight character -- is still rocking the internet. Or at least Twitter. The article's author Ramin Setoodeh is also the Oscar blogger for Newsweek and I swear my fury at him has nothing to do with the fact that I'm terrific at Oscar blogging and have been for a decade but I never get employed by household name magazines to write about them ;) I swear it. I didn't actually know he was their Oscar blogger until today.
Mr. Setoodeh is gay himself -- as he and his new enemy Kristin Chenoweth were both quick to point out -- but that's really neither here nor there in this discussion because homophobia knows no sexual orientation. It can exist in anyone. And whether or not he intended the cynical piece to be self-serving (he's certainly more famous now), that's the effect. So it's hard to listen to him whine about how angry people are at him.
In his latest piece, a response to the attacks that have come swiftly down on him for the piece (including from celebrities like Kristin Chenoweth, Glee's Ryan Murphy and Cheyenne Jackson), he claims that it's been entirely miscontrued and tries to reconfigure the article as being only about two things: the Tony nominated performance of Sean Hayes in Broadway's Promises Promises and that there's no test case for a major male movie star coming out and how the audience would respond and why is that and wouldn't they reject it?
ShareI use the word "reconfigure" because those were only two of the points he made in the article (and one of them isn't a point but a leading question) and they were the two that offended me the least. I haven't seen Promises Promises but when I saw Damn Yankees I felt that Sean Hayes wasn't playing the role much differently than he played "Just Jack" on Will & Grace and that that was a problem in a new context. So maybe he is all wrong for that part... who knows? And it's true that a major male movie star hasn't really come out in their prime to test any of these theories. But so what? Just because something hasn't been done before doesn't mean it won't be done eventually...in fact it almost always means the exact opposite.
Here's what I wrote in response (albeit cleaned up for grammar as I get sloppy when I'm angry)
This is a dodge when what's needed is an apology.
I take no issue with citing one actor for a specific role --- there have been and will always be specific roles for which any actor is not well suited. The problem is that the primary example, Sean Hayes in Promises Promises, is used to paint a large and unflattering picture of gay actors with broad strokes.
It's pretty horrifying to suggest that Sir Ian McKellen, widely regarded as one of the greatest actors in the English language, is unsuited to 90% of the great roles throughout history. Who in their right mind (I mean a mind without homophobic impulses) would suggest this?
And the examples are obviously cherry-picked to draw a conservative "stay in the closet!" picture for actors who haven't come out. I haven't seen one single thing to suggest that audiences want Cynthia Nixon replaced as Miranda in Sex & the City now that she's come out of the closet. I mean, really!?
More troubling still is the not-so veiled suggestion that some of the greatest movie stars of all time suddenly have worthless filmographies. I'd venture that anyone willing to enjoy Hollywood classics won't see the work of Montgomery Clift for example and think 'Damn... this movie is pretty good but IF ONLY HE HAD CHEMISTRY WITH LIZ TAYLOR.' As if A Place in the Sun doesn't offer a striking fascinating chemistry between two of the greatest stars who ever lived.
So in short (too late) I think we still need an apology.
According to Newsweek logic, these terrific beloved actors pictured above (among hundreds of others) are unsuitable for about 90% of the roles they've ever played. What a shame! So many classics and memorable entertainments must now be dismissed because these people are queer. [/sarcasm]
Anyway, sometimes you just have to vent. I must let this go now. Are you still thinking about this controversy or are you just waiting for it to go away?