New on NewsReal – Looking for Hate in All the Wrong Places: Is Hollywood Homophobic?

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

By now it goes without saying that middle America is hopelessly homophobic, at least according to leftist dogma, the average American’s opposition to “marriage equality” sufficiently proving their ignorant prejudice. But the scourge of homophobia is apparently even more far-reaching than any of us could have guessed—according to Ramin Setoodeh at the Daily Beast, even Hollywood is caught in its grasp, as demonstrated by Tinseltown’s refusal to let gay actors play gay roles. Or something:

With the film industry swept up in the congratulatory swirl of awards season, not a single openly gay actor is up for an Oscar nomination. Of course, that’s probably because no openly gay actors even starred in any big films of 2010. The lovable lesbian wives in The Kids Are All Right were played by the heterosexual actresses Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. The quirky couple in I Love You Phillip Morris were portrayed by straight men Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.

You could say that’s why it’s called “acting.” But that’s little comfort to gay actors, who are routinely shut out of the studio system, even though Hollywood is supposedly one of the most “gay-friendly” towns. Movies need to attract the broadest possible audience, and filmmakers worry that if they cast a gay person as a romantic lead, audiences will be too grossed out. Instead, straight actors get the roles, and everybody talks about how brave they are. Stanley Tucci has played gay so many times (The Devil Wears Prada, Burlesque) it’s like he’s switched teams. Eric Dane and Bradley Cooper were lovers in Valentine’s Day, and they follow a long tradition of straight actors who play gay and collect accolades: Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain), Sean Penn (Milk), Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote), Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry), Charlize Theron (Monster), Tom Hanks (Philadelphia) and Robin Williams (The Birdcage). The blog could only name nine working gay TV actors, and they all hold minor or supporting roles. The new gay guy on 90210 is played by heterosexual hunk Trevor Donovan.

Somebody needs to explain to me why a moviegoer who would be grossed out by a gay romantic lead would be seeing a movie about gay characters to begin with. If anything, that there’s a “long tradition of straight actors who play gay” to begin with seems to undermine the theory that Hollywood’s consciously trying to avoid more traditional sensibilities. Indeed, Setoodeh’s list suggests that a lot of Hollywood’s heaviest hitters relish the thought of bringing positive and nuanced (though not always accurate) depictions of homosexuals to theaters.

You could argue that no one gay is on the A-list, so Hollywood has to hire straight people to fill those roles. But it also has to do with something else. Society still shows a prejudice against gay people, especially those who fit the stereotype: feminine men and masculine women.

Setoodeh too quickly dismisses the simplest explanation, that the number of gays in Hollywood is small to begin with, simply because the number of gays in the general population is so small.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.


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