Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hollywood hypocrisy

I have never considered the Academy Awards to be a valid indicator of excellence in film. Most of the movies I admire were never even nominated. (See my Profile--sidebar--for favorites.) The voters for the awards are, many of them, untalented hacks, with predictable middle-brow tastes. Commercial and ideological considerations overrule aesthetic quality as criteria.

The ceremonies themselves are deplorable--incredibly lengthy extravaganzas of kitsch in which Hollywood reveals the embarrassing face of its collective narcissism.

Sean Penn gave a fine performance as Harvey Milk, though nothing supersonic. I was cheered by his comments about gays--that is, until I thought a bit about the matter. Hollywood loves homosexuals in the abstract, but is unwilling to follow through by casting them in major roles.

Most of the artists understand this, and stay completely in the closet, or impose their own glass ceiling. An exception, a very rare one, is the charismatic Rupert Everett, who is thoroughly out.

Openly gay, Everett was once denied a major Hollywood role by a studio boss who called him a "pervert." The MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING star was the first choice of the film's director and leading actress Sharon Stone, but the executive refused to permit casting Everett purely because of his sexuality. The actor considered taking legal action after the studio boss made the defamatory comment about him in public, but ultimately decided it wasn't worth his time and effort. As he stated, "Sharon wanted me to do it and I went to meet the director and he wanted me to. The director rang up the head of the studio and he said, 'Oh no, he's not playing that role - he's a pervert.' "He said this in front of lots of people. My agent and lawyer got worked up and we went into battle. Sharon was on the phone to me saying, 'We can close this movie down. This is your civil rights.' "I was moving towards a fight with the studio on this one. But in the end those kinds of battles are to exhausting to fight ... and I didn't."

Yes, Hollywood loves us gay people. As long as there is no need to do anything about it.



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