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How can straight actors be more authentic when playing gay characters?


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#21 jaragon

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 06:48 PM

I think Tony was coy about his sexuality in mid-life, but in his later years he seemed to deny the gayer side of himself. People evolve. 

 

The Monroe example you provided doesn't quite work for me because things tend to be very exaggerated in comedies, especially Billy Wilder farces. Often in Wilder's films these are not authentic characters to begin with, so it's not as easy to connect them with authentic representations of same-sex relations. In Wilder's universe there is a lack of logic and the audience just goes along with it, and that includes any spoofing of gender or sexuality. But in a more serious minded story, none of this would be considered real or authentic.

Curtis was to cute in his youth not to have gay guys hit on him - later on he might have changed his tune but his persona and looks seem to suggest at least a bi sexual flight or two


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#22 rayban

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 12:14 PM

On "Days Of Our Lives", all of the four actors who were involved in the gay storyline, gave very competent performances.

 

And, while I didn't believe that any of them was actually gay, that fact did not distract from their "authenticity".

 

Even in their "intimate moments", they were convincing.

 

And, in an on-going soap opera, since there is so much more time to explore these relationships than in the average film treatment, I did feel that these particular actors were always up to the challenge.

 

Would actors that seemed genuinely gay to me have been more persuasive?

 

No, in this case, on "Days Of Our Lives", I do not think so.

 

Sometimes, mere talent can win out.

 

And, seriously, is it that hard to portray gay men who are attracted to other gay men?

 

Is there that much difference between heterosexual attraction and homosexual attraction?


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"I was born the day she kissed me.  I died the day she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." - Humphrey Bogart in "In A Lonely Place".


#23 TopBilled

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 11:36 AM

Which brings me to The Daughters. What is THEIR problem exactly? Why do they not want Daddy to be happy? Obviously they are uncomfortable in their own perception of sexuality and intimacy. 

 

screen-shot-2017-03-09-at-9-39-38-am.png

 

The daughters (Chrissie and Rebecca) do not want their father (Lawrence) to be happy with his partner (Ronnie) for a variety of reasons. The oldest one, Chrissie, is the manipulator and Rebecca follows her lead. In yesterday's episode, Ronnie decided to leave the house for awhile because he couldn't take the drama anymore with Lawrence and the daughters. Lawrence tried to convince him to stay and apologized for Chrissie's behavior, saying she's bitter and jealous. That she's afraid all Lawrence's affection will go to Ronnie and none to her or Rebecca. And also there was mention that Chrissie wants their inheritance protected, because Lawrence is quite wealthy, and she doesn't want Ronnie to get anything in case their father dies. So it's more than just her acceptance of his sexuality. In a way, it's kind of like a soap opera equivalent of King Lear with the ungrateful daughters, only in this variation, Lear is gay and has a partner.

 

screen-shot-2017-03-09-at-9-40-55-am1.pn


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#24 Jlewis

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 10:13 AM

Hmmm... perhaps. Wilder was quite the character himself though. One reason that comedy is a masterpiece is because it does explore emotions and society norms in a more complex way than first meets the eye. For example, you have the dialogue where Curtis asks Lemmon why a guy would marry a guy and Lemmon's response is "security". In one joke, Wilder mocks the "institution" of marriage twofold:

1.) too often marriage is based more on finance than romance... and this is very much the tradition going back to Old Testament times

2.) marriage is defined too much on a structure. While Lemmon is willing to experiment, Curtis has to give him a lecture that "it just isn't done". (Joe E. Brown's Osgood has no problem with anything they decide to do because "nobody's perfect".)

 

I like Wilder's films. They are wild, but also raise very important questions.

 

 

In one of these other stories, which I think is very well-written and performed, we have a wealthy man who is in his late 50s. He's a widow whose late wife was very domineering/controlling and an old friend of his from their younger days has come back into his life. It has been revealed he and his buddy had romantic feelings years ago but the wife stood in the way. Now that she's deceased, they are free to explore their feelings. But the widowed man has two grown daughters who are just as domineering and calculating as the late wife. So they are doing everything they can to keep their father from being happy with the man he truly loves.

 

You know how I exhaust you by OVER analyzing everything and everyone, including characters you create in your own stories. I never believe anybody is a set cardboard character. I always want to get "into" their heads.

 

Heck, I have even analyzed the entire $%#@ing Republican Party! I always chuckle over how Ted Cruz always changes the subject when asked if he has any "issues" with gays. Every time he hears the word "gay", he asks why Liberals are so obsessed with sex. Why? Because being "gay" means you have a strong libido. Apparently he thinks gays are incapable of doing anything else like... I dunno... listen to show tunes. Since he struggles so much showing intimacy with his own wife (and I am just talking about hugging her in public), you know he has a lot of issues with intimacy in general. Granted, he does have two daughters so he did what he had to do physically in order to get them even if he didn't enjoyed it.

 

With Mike Pence, he genuinely believes all "normal" people are heterosexual and good therapy and proper prayer can "fix" homosexuality. It doesn't matter what experts tell him. He stubbornly believes a man or woman's homosexuality can be fixed just like a leaky faucet. I don't think he necessarily believes they are cursed by God like Pat Robertson (who is obsessed with the Sodom and Gomorrah story even though he hasn't read it in decades and is basing every sermon on "memory"). Yet he doesn't understand why gays should feel discriminated against based on "religious freedom" because they can easily change and conform, unlike a black person who can't change their skin tone.

 

Which brings me to The Daughters. What is THEIR problem exactly? Why do they not want Daddy to be happy? Obviously they are uncomfortable in their own perception of sexuality and intimacy. This is something I have picked up with people who say their religious faith is why they are intolerant of gays. If Leviticus is as important as they say it is, they wouldn't be eating out at Red Lobster. Are The Daughters upset that Daddy is not fitting in with the status quo as they see it? Nazi Germany was all about the status quo under Hitler. If they resemble Mommy, who is deceased, you have to wonder what HER issues were. Was she aggressive with her husband because she feared unloved herself?

 

I am so sorry. This has nothing to do with what you want to discuss. Ha ha! Yet I do believe that a good on-going soap opera on TV has an advantage over a theatrical 90 minute movie in that characters can be explored more fully over time.


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#25 TopBilled

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 09:30 AM

I don't know Tony Curtis' full biography. Was he bisexual with intimate relations with both genders? That wasn't the vibe I got in an interview of his. In any case, I was just getting you to rethink the whole romance-with-Marilyn Monroe situation.

 

I think Tony was coy about his sexuality in mid-life, but in his later years he seemed to deny the gayer side of himself. People evolve. 

 

The Monroe example you provided doesn't quite work for me because things tend to be very exaggerated in comedies, especially Billy Wilder farces. Often in Wilder's films these are not authentic characters to begin with, so it's not as easy to connect them with authentic representations of same-sex relations. In Wilder's universe there is a lack of logic and the audience just goes along with it, and that includes any spoofing of gender or sexuality. But in a more serious minded story, none of this would be considered real or authentic.


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#26 Jlewis

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 09:24 AM

Not sure I agree. In a comedy, we can go a bit broader and stretch our suspension of disbelief. And it could be argued that henpecked husband roles are fairly asexual anyway-- with very little affection, intimacy or real romance occurring. 

 

Some actors like Tony Curtis were a lot more fluid and actively bisexual, which informs their persona. But unless they are playing bisexual characters then on some level they are not being authentic either.

 

I don't know Tony Curtis' full biography. Was he bisexual with intimate relations with both genders? That wasn't the vibe I got in an interview of his. In any case, I was just getting you to rethink the whole romance-with-Marilyn Monroe situation.

 

Oh... and sorry if I got off topic of Emmerdale. Ha ha!



#27 TopBilled

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 09:20 AM

I want to go back to Emmerdale for a moment. In addition to our frontburner supercouple Aaron & Robert, there are actually two other gay storylines occurring. As I've said before, there are six episodes produced weekly so with all that airtime they can feature a lot of characters and there are five out gay male characters in frontburner stories at the moment (three besides Aaron & Robert). 

 

In one of these other stories, which I think is very well-written and performed, we have a wealthy man who is in his late 50s. He's a widow whose late wife was very domineering/controlling and an old friend of his from their younger days has come back into his life. It has been revealed he and his buddy had romantic feelings years ago but the wife stood in the way. Now that she's deceased, they are free to explore their feelings. But the widowed man has two grown daughters who are just as domineering and calculating as the late wife. So they are doing everything they can to keep their father from being happy with the man he truly loves. 

 

In the third gay story on Emmerdale we have a young guy who is about 19 or 20 and in college. He's become obsessed with another guy his own age who is deeply in the closet and can't reciprocate the same feelings. Since he can't be with the guy he wants, his older brother has been taking him out to a local pub to try and help him find someone else.

 

The level of authenticity varies in all three storylines. I do think the five actors in these roles are doing the best job possible. The writing is uniformly excellent. In the story with the two older men, the dialogue is a little more wry and the performances seem wiser. In yesterday's episode one of the older guys, when commenting on his partner's scheming daughters, complained that they're turning him into the type of bitter old queen he never wanted to become! 


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#28 TopBilled

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 09:10 AM

I dunno... Tony Curtis really enjoyed playing Josephine in Some Like It Hot in addition to wooing Monroe. In one biography interview, he kept attracting men on a daily basis in his early years of the 1950s and thought he himself might be gay for a while despite not having any sexual experience with men. While he may have been comfortable in Spartacus in a subtle gay scene with Laurence Olivier, later in life he did have some issues and reportedly was not a fan of Brokeback Mountain and other films of its type.

 

I should add that Pangborn did a great comic role as a "hassled husband" many times, often with a woman who was more aggressive than him or, in some cases, just nutty and he has to "control" her. Many heterosexual husbands back then and today resemble his performances. Even in a short subject like the early Technicolor Menu (MGM Pete Smith "Oddity", 1933), he is simply an easily agitated husband fussing over his tummy.

 

Not sure I agree. In a comedy, we can go a bit broader and stretch our suspension of disbelief. And it could be argued that henpecked husband roles are fairly asexual anyway-- with very little affection, intimacy or real romance occurring. 

 

Some actors like Tony Curtis were a lot more fluid and actively bisexual, which informs their persona. But unless they are playing bisexual characters then on some level they are not being authentic either.


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#29 Jlewis

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 07:35 AM

We're not talking about "acting" as much as we're talking about an actor's persona. A straight actor's persona (and truth) is different than a gay actor's. It may not seem authentic no matter how great an acting job they do. For example, Franklin Pangborn could have been the most trained Shakespearean actor who ever lived, but nobody would believe him playing a man who had the hots for Marilyn Monroe. His persona does not lend itself to an authentic reading of that. And we can apply this to straight actors who just do not give off the vibe they're into the same sex.

 

I dunno... Tony Curtis really enjoyed playing Josephine in Some Like It Hot in addition to wooing Monroe. In one biography interview, he kept attracting men on a daily basis in his early years of the 1950s and thought he himself might be gay for a while despite not having any sexual experience with men. While he may have been comfortable in Spartacus in a subtle gay scene with Laurence Olivier, later in life he did have some issues and reportedly was not a fan of Brokeback Mountain and other films of its type.

 

I should add that Pangborn did a great comic role as a "hassled husband" many times, often with a woman who was more aggressive than him or, in some cases, just nutty and he has to "control" her. Many heterosexual husbands back then and today resemble his performances. Even in a short subject like the early Technicolor Menu (MGM Pete Smith "Oddity", 1933), he is simply an easily agitated husband fussing over his tummy.


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#30 Jlewis

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 07:26 AM

Actors are expected to play people other than themselves. That's the point of acting.

 

What about gay actors playing straight characters? Wasn't Barbara Stanwyck a lesbian? Yet she was completely convincing as a straight woman in a lot of her films.

 

What about straight actors playing straight characters who are in love with someone other than their real-world partners? For example, how many women did James Stewart kiss in films? Yet he was married for years to one woman. The actors might even hate each other in reality, but on screen, they might be playing a couple.

 

If you go back a page or two, I too mentioned in two posts about how many gay actors have played straight romances in the past century... and discussed Jimmy Stewart too! Jimmy also did a slightly gay-ish role as the older "friend" of the male couple in Rope. Also mentioned how much March and Lake hated each other in I Married A Witch, as did countless other male/female couples once the cameras stopped rolling. As Gene Kelly joked in Singin' In The Rain, "I'd rather kiss a tarantula!"

 

However an important issue... and you know this too, but I am just repeating it... being gay is still not considered "normal" in much of our culture, so many heterosexual-identified actors are not comfortable in gay roles even if they think it is JUST acting. (Whether they are actually 100% heterosexual per the ol' Kinsey scale may be another issue altogether, but that debate would take us way off topic.) As TopBilled explained, some have trouble convincing others there is a difference between screen work and real life and may worry about family members and fans who expect them to be heterosexual. If the worry is that great, they won't bother with any gay roles, but if doing one to expand their acting experience, they may not get "into" their role as much as they should in order to be convincing. It is easier for a gay actor to do the opposite since he/she is conforming to what is more widely accepted.

 

In another discussion, we mentioned how romance in most movies before the 1960s didn't involve bed-hopping. Instead it was just talk, simple kisses and singing Gershwin tunes. Anybody can do that regardless of your orientation.

 

I do believe in the sixties and seventies, when gay characters were no longer just villains a.k.a. Dracula's Daughter but accepted as slightly "sane" on screen post-Victim, many actors and actresses were more comfortable with alternate orientation roles. In reference to Sunday Bloody Sunday, the heterosexual (I am guessing they were) male leads felt their performances were advancing a cause for wider acceptability, advancing the motto that gay romance was as interchangeable as straight romance and it should no longer be viewed as a mental disorder. Of course, Peter Finch and Murray Head may not have been attracted to each other in real life, but they were comfortable kissing each other and expressing affection since they believed strongly in their roles being positive role models for the public in general.

 

Things changed in the 1980s, partly due to more conservative politics and the AIDS homophobia panic, and a lot of actors and actresses became more cautious. Although a gay star like Rupert Everett did very well in straight romances early on, his career suffered after he came "out" in the '90s because... and this relates to my above paragraph... most movie goers would no longer accept him as a straight character. Real life interfered with "reel" life regardless of how convincing he may be on screen.

 

After the success of Tom Hanks in Philadelphia, there was finally... FINALLY... a gradual reverse move in the pendulum in the same direction it was going at the time of Sunday Bloody Sunday. We are still not quite there yet, not so much due to AIDS generated homophobia but because conservative politics are still impacting society.


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#31 TopBilled

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 07:02 AM

Actors are expected to play people other than themselves. That's the point of acting.

 

What about gay actors playing straight characters? Wasn't Barbara Stanwyck a lesbian? Yet she was completely convincing as a straight woman in a lot of her films.

 

What about straight actors playing straight characters who are in love with someone other than their real-world partners? For example, how many women did James Stewart kiss in films? Yet he was married for years to one woman. The actors might even hate each other in reality, but on screen, they might be playing a couple.

 

We're not talking about "acting" as much as we're talking about an actor's persona. A straight actor's persona (and truth) is different than a gay actor's. It may not seem authentic no matter how great an acting job they do. For example, Franklin Pangborn could have been the most trained Shakespearean actor who ever lived, but nobody would believe him playing a man who had the hots for Marilyn Monroe. His persona does not lend itself to an authentic reading of that. And we can apply this to straight actors who just do not give off the vibe they're into the same sex.


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#32 TikiSoo

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 07:00 AM

"How can straight actors be....?"

 

.....anything?

 

It's called ACTING.


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#33 kjrwe

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Posted 09 March 2017 - 03:10 AM

Actors are expected to play people other than themselves. That's the point of acting.

 

What about gay actors playing straight characters? Wasn't Barbara Stanwyck a lesbian? Yet she was completely convincing as a straight woman in a lot of her films.

 

What about straight actors playing straight characters who are in love with someone other than their real-world partners? For example, how many women did James Stewart kiss in films? Yet he was married for years to one woman. The actors might even hate each other in reality, but on screen, they might be playing a couple.



#34 Jlewis

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 08:00 PM

Straight audiences are more comfortable watching straight sex on screen because they are use to it- most audiences have not seen gay sex-  I really miss the tv series "Looking" which was very sexual and had interesting characters.

 

I guess I should be fair and say that this was 2005. Hopefully that lady has  "grown up" since then, especially since there are more gay relationships appearing on TV and movies than a decade ago.

 

I have mentioned Andrew Heigh's Weekend multiple times here because I think that is a good alternative choice to Brokeback Mountain (not saying better, but just different) and I do think TCM could potentially show both late at night. The sex scenes are tastefully done (a.k.a. "simulated" like the other since one guy was straight). In the Criterion DVD documentary, the director said that he was bombarded with questions from those who had never seen a gay sex scene before in a mainstream movie. They all thought that two guys can't physically look at each other or kiss while doing The Act. They didn't know any better since they had only seen a man and a woman together in countless other films.

 

Maybe someone should start a gay version of Netflix- TLA has some interesting titles but also a lot of stuff that is basically European soft core gay porn

 

Showtime, HBO and other cable networks have been providing the European heterosexual soft core since the early 1980s at least. Yeah, I have sat through the dreadfully boring Emmanuelle (1974) more than once. Nice Thailand location photography, but otherwise... zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Except I felt sorry for how Sylvia Kristel was used and abused by men for their enjoyment, when she seemed so much happier being around women.

 

Off topic, but semi related to Emmanuelle, I never fully understood the appeal for this series except that the audience tends to be heterosexual-identifying female: http://www.dvdtalk.c...-shades-darker/


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#35 jaragon

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 06:53 PM

I really need to get out more. A lot of these movies I have never seen or heard of. Is the TLA Releasing filmography worth investigating?

 

Once the folks on this forum overcome the shock of Robert Osborne not having a wife, I think a June Pride Month (or week) is in order for Turner Classic Movies. Maybe an airing of silent era classics like Different From The Others (1919) and Michael (1924) up through The Celluloid Closet and beyond. Is Midnight Cowboy too "adult" for a pre-10 PM audience? It won Best Picture when rated "X" simply meant over-17. They have shown more potent material in the past like I Am Curious Yellow. Sunday Bloody Sunday is downright tame compared to what the major networks air these days, with just one key kiss and a tastefully discrete bed scene. If anybody gets angry over that film, they are simply paranoid of everything gay. I do think both Brokeback Mountain and Weekend could be shown without much fuss as long as it is late enough at night after the kiddies go to bed. As if they see anything worse on prime time these days.

 

I understand that many here are just not comfortable with anything not "heteronormal", but I think an education is in order. Few of these films are as explicit as the hetero material everybody is already used to. Also we have many politicians (in one party in particular) who hardly showed any sympathy for victims of the Pulse tragedy in Orlando last year and it is highly unlikely that the president and VP will even acknowledge the first anniversary this June. Yet TV programmers have some responsibility in improving society.

Maybe someone should start a gay version of Netflix- TLA has some interesting titles but also a lot of stuff that is basically European soft core gay porn


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#36 jaragon

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 06:51 PM

You will just have to forgive me, jaragon. I have weird reactions to movies when I see them.

 

I did not view them as "rough" in the strict sense. Don't take me too literally. Granted, that obnoxious lady in the theater was taking "rough" literally. She was a woman of strong opinions and, thankfully, I never had to meet her in person. I hate people like that. I think you can see my point about her likely being comfortable with heterosexual couples behaving like that.

 

Regarding the stars taking it down a notch, I meant more tender, softer scenes as an addition. I think they might have been trying just a little too hard. (Now I will have to re-watch it, because it has been quite a few years.)

Straight audiences are more comfortable watching straight sex on screen because they are use to it- most audiences have not seen gay sex-  I really miss the tv series "Looking" which was very sexual and had interesting characters.


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#37 Jlewis

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 01:39 PM

They were brave back in 2007 even if The Boys of the Band was the most recent title.


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#38 TopBilled

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 01:31 PM

Once the folks on this forum overcome the shock of Robert Osborne not having a wife, I think a June Pride Month (or week) is in order for Turner Classic Movies. 

 

I didn't start watching TCM until July 2008, but from what I've read, TCM did have a "gay images" spotlight in June 2007 called Screened Out. I agree it's time for another one, because there is still a need for on-going education in this area.

 

You can see which films TCM's programmers spotlighted in 2007 by going to a wiki page someone made about it:

 

https://en.wikipedia...ki/Screened_Out


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#39 Jlewis

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 12:54 PM

I really need to get out more. A lot of these movies I have never seen or heard of. Is the TLA Releasing filmography worth investigating?

 

Once the folks on this forum overcome the shock of Robert Osborne not having a wife, I think a June Pride Month (or week) is in order for Turner Classic Movies. Maybe an airing of silent era classics like Different From The Others (1919) and Michael (1924) up through The Celluloid Closet and beyond. Is Midnight Cowboy too "adult" for a pre-10 PM audience? It won Best Picture when rated "X" simply meant over-17. They have shown more potent material in the past like I Am Curious Yellow. Sunday Bloody Sunday is downright tame compared to what the major networks air these days, with just one key kiss and a tastefully discrete bed scene. If anybody gets angry over that film, they are simply paranoid of everything gay. I do think both Brokeback Mountain and Weekend could be shown without much fuss as long as it is late enough at night after the kiddies go to bed. As if they see anything worse on prime time these days.

 

I understand that many here are just not comfortable with anything not "heteronormal", but I think an education is in order. Few of these films are as explicit as the hetero material everybody is already used to. Also we have many politicians (in one party in particular) who hardly showed any sympathy for victims of the Pulse tragedy in Orlando last year and it is highly unlikely that the president and VP will even acknowledge the first anniversary this June. Yet TV programmers have some responsibility in improving society.


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#40 rayban

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Posted 08 March 2017 - 12:12 PM

A perfect example of a straight actor who ruins a gay film -

 

Kevin Bishop's hugely unconvincing performance as the object of Paul Rhys' affections in Ventura Pons' first English-language film, "Food Of Love", which was based on David Leavitt's novel, "The Page Turner".

 

Of course, you could say that Mr. Bishop was A TERRIFIED VIRGIN -

 

but you can't really believe it -

 

and what gay youth wouldn't want to have a love affair with such a highly desirable man like Paul Rhys' highly accomplished pianist? -

 

Paul Rhys himself gave a really persuasive performance in the film and certainly seemed to be working from his own life experience -

 

  foodofl1.jpg

 

(Of course, Mr. Pons might have wanted "the discomfort" of a straight actor who was experiencing his first gay love affair, but, Mr. Bishop was just much too "straight" to register any of these multiple colorings in his basic make-up.)


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"I was born the day she kissed me.  I died the day she left me.  I lived a few weeks while she loved me." - Humphrey Bogart in "In A Lonely Place".





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