February 25, 2012 § 3 Comments
Since few major films with queer subject matter are in competition in this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, there is not much to be excited about for LGBT Americans tomorrow night.
Sure there were a few notable roles and/or moments (and maybe even entire films) distributed during last fall’s Oscar bait season that contained queer content. Many of those films were either tiny independent films that would never be nominated (Weekend) or were really terrible for a number of reasons (J. Edgar) and were ignored by the Academy or they actually were nominated but perpetuate the American film tradition requiring LGBT characters to die making them less than thrilling for the queer audience member.
A word of warning: FIVE films are about to be discussed and there will be NO caution about revealing parts of those films. If you haven’t seen these films and you intend to and you are deeply sensitive about having advance knowledge of a film then you should stop right now and go play outside. Also the bolded titles here contain links to trailers for each film.
Better yet, go see the fucking movies because they have been out for months.
Christopher Plummer is guaranteed an award tomorrow night for his portrayal of an elderly man that decides to celebrate his queer identity late in life in the film Beginners. Anyone that criticizes this film or the acting would have to be a cold, heartless bastard and/or an irreversibly bitter cynic. Beginners is sweet, sentimental, kinda boring, and inoffensive. As an actor, Plummer is extremely old (82 years old) and deserves another award just for continuing to have a pulse. The bottom line here is that Plummer plays a gay man that lived his life selfishly and closeted and when he makes the decision to embrace his queerness he is diagnosed with cancer and dies.
Another dead fag (ADF).
Beginners is harmless and we all kinda expect old people to die so the film doesn’t exactly inspire great resentment. Actually, Plummer’s character got off easy compared to a few queer women characters portrayed in other Academy Award nominated performances.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Albert Nobbs have a few nominations each and have leading women characters who experience varying amounts of same-sex desire. Both Glenn Close (Nobbs) and Rooney Mara (Tattoo) are nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role for their portrayals of women that have faced challenges and end up transformed. Both characters are also viciously raped by men – Mara’s character’s rape is depicted during the film and it is HIGHLY unpleasant.
Close plays a woman that adopts a male identity to protect herself following a rape as a teenager. She is so determined to remain in this identity that she has permanently assumed the name Albert Nobbs and distances herself from her female persona. During the film she meets another woman (played by Janet McTeer – also nominated) that has adopted a male identity – without being raped this time – who has found true love and shares a home with a woman. Those two women were even married as husband and wife. Albert begins to believe that kind of happiness may be possible for him too. The moment of hope is almost enough to cause a tear in the eye of the cynical viewer.
In the last act of the film McTeer’s wife dies of flu and before you know it Albert gets into a fist fight has his head slammed into a wall which causes him to have blood trickle from his ear which is a total give away. Within five minutes Nobbs is dead.
ADF – actually two queer women die in Albert Nobbs.
Mara’s character in Tattoo does manage to live at the end of the film (shocking, eh?), but her amount of queerness is pretty low – definitely not a fatal dose. Following her rape she dates women and cuts her hair funny and pierces her body and gets geeky on laptops – a real tom boy. Not very girly at all. Edgy! Then she meets Daniel Craig’s character. After a few scenes together it’s clear that their genitals were REALLY JUICY for each other and they start to fuck fuck fuck. Mara’s character isn’t dating girls anymore!! She had the scarred dyke fucked right out of her! Penises can be so magical, can’t they? If they are, you’d have a hard time convincing J. Edgar Hoover of it.
Do not spend much time fussing over the film J. Edgar. The Academy sure didn’t. The film was directed by Clint Eastwood, written by previous Oscar winner (and major Hollywood homo) Dustin Lance Black and stars Leonardo DiCaprio. It has the scent of Oscar all over it yet it really sucks. Hoover was portrayed as a mama’s boy, raised without a father figure, that was awkward around women and he cried every time he had to touch his penis. DiCaprio’s character was the only person in the world – man or woman – that would have been conflicted about making his life long companion (played by the blonde bombshell Arnie Hammer) ejaculate repeatedly.
It seems that the audience is supposed to assume that J. Edgar Hoover was a fudge packer because he was quirky.
Black and Eastwood presented a pathetically character for whom we were supposed to feel sympathy for and completely ignored the years Hoover spent harassing and intimidating his fellow American queers. The character of J. Edgar Hoover seems just as conflicted and riddled with sexual stereotypes and homophobia as the director of the film.
Also – Hoover dies at the end of the film. Even if J. Edgar is a shitty biopic it still counts as ADF.
Finally, a film that contains only a moment of queerness (a moment that raised my hackles) amid a resounding avalanche of hetero fucking that is my FAVORITE film of the year: Shame.
Anyone that says this film is about a sex addict is just being lazy or they are avoiding doing work in therapy. Brandon, the lead character played by a gorgeous and soulful yet soulless Michael Fassbender (who would have been nominated if this wasn’t a X rated film) has some demons. Those demons are readily apparent when his sister, played by Carey Mulligan, crashes at his place. Brandon’s drama spirals out of control until he hits bottom in a pivotal scene late in the film. After getting himself into trouble instead of getting himself off he roams the streets desperate for a sexual fix – something to help keep him from looking at what motives his behavior.
Brandon finds his fix at an unmarked club in a poorly lit, seedy part of town, in a room filled with men. The men are gyrating with each other wearing flannel and leather and all of them have mustaches. The audience in the movie theater can practically smell the santorum in the air. Brandon finds a man that quickly drops to his knees to orally draw out a batch of sperm from the apparently never ending lake of semen that is stored in Brandon’s scrotum.
We don’t see Brandon reciprocate. We don’t even know how long he stays at the club. All we know is that this marks the moment when our pussy pirate Hetero Hero Brandon has obviously crossed the line into pure desperation. How else could one explain the fact that Brandon debased himself by entering a gay sex club and ejaculating into a man’s mouth? The scene was an intentional nod to an audience that might have a hard time looking at a line that most heterosexual people could not, would not, and should not cross (if they want to maintain their heterosexual cred).
Because director Steve (he’s gay!) McQueen chose to put Brandon and the audience through that experience the egregiousness of the stereotype ploy adds to the gravity of the film.
Shame may not be a typical example of an LGBT film and that scene isn’t going to become a moment of Gay Pride for all queers to rally around but hopefully the film is a sign of new life in queer film. No more soppy sentiment tainted by death and violence and instead may we be treated to more intelligent explorations of the world we struggle to find peace in.
The Academy ignored Shame and Michael Fassbender while honoring material that feels safe and simple. No surprises there.
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