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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Time to retire this Hollywood cliche

James Hudnall has an interesting essay at Big Hollywood : 10 Cliches That Must Die. He discusses film cliches and stereotypes that are "the products of hack writers, lazy minds, and innate bigotry". My favourite - The Gay Friend:
Gays are the perfect friend for single women. They give her all the tips she needs to get ahead with her man and act like a Greek chorus, cheering her on to victory. They also make funny stylists or interior decorators. Sometimes they’re the hilarious neighbor next door. You know, the guy with the pink sweater tied around his neck and swishy boy friend who always says something sassy. Gosh, aren’t they witty? They’re hilarious. All gays are funny, except, when they’re Republican - then they’re evil. Because that’s what all Republicans are: evil and secretly gay. Yes, all Nazis are gay too, but they’re not witty, either.

Note to Hollywood: This is the current incarnation of the token minority friend. Just like the black friend who pops up and says: “That was whack, yo!” The gay friend always has some snappy comment. They often mimic clichéd black girl mannerisms because it’s “funny.” Except, not all gays are funny. Not all gays are swishy and fey. Many gays act and dress like boring straight people. Or even macho straight people. And they’re not all sassy or current with the latest styling tips.

And no, all Republicans aren’t evil and secretly gay. Neither were the Nazis. Comparing Nazis to anything is a tired cliché. But if you think Republicans and Nazis are evil, why accuse them of being gay? Do you think being gay is evil, too? If so, what does that say about your much vaunted tolerance? And why can’t you write gay characters that don’t fit into a narrow caricature? Is it that, oh, I dunno…you think of gays in a stereotypical way? But aren’t there are lot of gays in Hollywood? So, why would you–Ah, I get it, this is how you get back at them. You really don’t like them. Ahhhh, I see now.

My sentiments exactly. For an industry that is supposedly "gay-friendly", the gay characters it churns out don't do us any favours. With rare exceptions, gay characters in Hollywood films are prancing, lisping drama queens with exquisite apartments and great taste in clothes. I think that's why Brokeback Mountain caused such a stir when it was released in 2005 - gay cowboys? Really? In Wyoming? No one would have batted an eye if the film was about two interior decorators in Manhattan. Compare that to the rapturous reception that La Cage aux Folles got when it was released. It harvested prestigious award nominations all over the world (including three Oscars) without any criticism whatsoever that I can remember. Hollywood likes its homosexuals flamboyant & feminine - all the better to dismiss them as irrelevant cartoon characters.

1 comment:

rabbit said...

I thought the #1 cliche - "Evil corporations/businessmen" - was dead on.

Writers can't seem to come up with original bad guys so they fall back on this tired old hack. Even "The Manchurian Candidate" was redone with a corporate villain, presumably because the Chinese government is no longer suitable.