Sign in to follow this  
TopBilled

Believability in certain roles

130 posts in this topic

True, actors should get parts regardless of sexual orientation. All I am saying is that the practices of the industry do not match the ideal we would hope for. 

 

Neil Patrick Harris played straight very well on How I Met Your Mother, and played well to the audience that way, can he get a role not on Broadway where he can play a gay character? I don't know. I haven't seen or heard any news pointing to yes. 

 

I would hope Neil Patrick Harris would be offered a role on Broadway, TV, or Movies where he plays a gay character since he is a very experienced actor.     I haven't seen or heard any news that confirms an industry bias.    i.e.  actual cases were a gay actors believes he wasn't hired for a gay part because he was gay.    I'm NOT saying this type of bias doesn't occur but I haven't seen or heard anything that leads me to believe it is widespread in the 21st century.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the overriding need for political correctness and excessive positive images becomes a form of posturing (saying 'look how good we really are'), which turns it into a negative thing, ironically. It ultimately can defeat the goal. It becomes unrealistic-- because a logical minded person knows that not all minorities are perfect; so trying to present them as perfect positive role models all the time may make them lose any sort of credibility and value. I think the idea of depicting minorities as flesh-and-blood human images with character flaws is the key here, not heavy-handed positive images.

 

Poitier did not exactly fight back years of negative images. At first it seemed so, but after a while, he became a bit of a caricature-- a predictable backlash to 'traditional' views about minorities. Many of his characters were written and directed by reactionary progressives. So in their hands, he becomes a new stereotype created and maintained by the left preaching to its own choir. Again, this is where minorities fighting for better representation make most of their errors. They are trying to swing the pendulum back the other way, and they go too far and fail to show balanced representations of how people really are in their subgroup. 

 

I agree with your overall take here.    I feel it is folly to view life like Viola Davis does using very broad stereotypes and generalizations.     There really isn't a 'black community' or a 'white community',  since that implies everyone in said community acts, feels and behaves the same.      Didn't the progressive movement help teach all of us to view and treat each other as individuals?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with your overall take here.    I feel it is folly to view life like Viola Davis does using very broad stereotypes and generalizations.     There really isn't a 'black community' or a 'white community',  since that implies everyone in said community acts, feels and behaves the same.     

Right. Plus some of the labeling erroneously suggests people are pure minorities. Some blacks are actually half black or 3/4 black, because they have European (or Asian or Latin) ancestry mixed in with their African ancestry. That's the main problem I had with TCM's Jewish Images series-- it implied that Jews in society and Jews in movies are 100% Jewish, and they're not. Some people are part-Jewish and hide that part of their identity due to anti-semitism (both externally and internally). This same thing applies to homosexuals and bisexuals who hide their sexual identity when they get by for awhile passing as straight. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the meantime, no one is talking about the dominant social group's errors in perception, but those don't exist because white heterosexual actors can play anybody and have nothing to complain about. 

You also should recognize that sometimes the non-dominant group has errors in self-perception. It's not totally a we-them situation. Errors in perception can exist on both sides. 

 

I do agree it's a problem when a lot of gay roles are played by heterosexual actors-- because even if they are the most skilled for the role, it's not going to have the same impact. In another thread we discussed what happens when we see someone like Dirk Bogarde playing a man struggling with his sexuality in VICTIM. As a gay man in real life, Bogarde's presence verifies the need to make this type of film more than if just any old heterosexual actor had played it. 

 

Also, and this is what Hollywood is quite guilty of-- if we keep hiring heterosexual actors to play gay roles in major motion pictures, it becomes a game of play-acting for the sake of play-acting. It basically says that you can be gay in a movie but in real life you wouldn't actually be gay. And that's a huge mixed message, working against any open-mindedness the scriptwriter may have been hoping to accomplish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You also should recognize that sometimes the non-dominant group has errors in self-perception. It's not totally a we-them situation. Errors in perception can exist on both sides. 

 

I do agree it's a problem when a lot of gay roles are played by heterosexual actors-- because even if they are the most skilled for the role, it's not going to have the same impact. In another thread we discussed what happens when we see someone like Dirk Bogarde playing a man struggling with his sexuality in VICTIM. As a gay man in real life, Bogarde's presence verifies the need to make this type of film more than if just any old heterosexual actor had played it. 

 

Also, and this is what Hollywood is quite guilty of-- if we keep hiring heterosexual actors to play gay roles in major motion pictures, it becomes a game of play-acting for the sake of play-acting. It basically says that you can be gay in a movie but in real life you wouldn't actually be gay. And that's a huge mixed message, working against any open-mindedness the scriptwriter may have been hoping to accomplish.

I recognize that non-dominant groups have errors in self-perception, and that errors can exist on both sides. The mixed messages are there, and authenticity can alleviate those. My point in mentioning the dominant group is because the dominant group has determined how to view the non-dominant group, even amid individuals of that group who believe themselves to be otherwise. On one side, the dominant group has no idea the impact on that perception because it isn't real to that perception by experience, and more than likely leads to victim-blaming, i.e. "I wish they would stop feeling this way about themselves." On the other side, the non-dominant, the perception is real based on experience it just that because they belong to a non-dominant group, be they Americans of color, women, GLBT, poor, disabled, not Christian, or a combination of both, the dominants don't want to listen to those views and perceptions because it threatens their views and requires personal responsibility for them, and no one wants to take it. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I recognize that non-dominant groups have errors in self-perception, and that errors can exist on both sides. The mixed messages are there, and authenticity can alleviate those. 

Yes. I would say authenticity in portrayals, with any minority group, will help build more accurate definitions of the population being represented on film. And in order to be fully accurate, filmmakers have to show all sides. It cannot be done narrowly.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes. I would say authenticity in portrayals, with any minority group, will help build more accurate definitions of the population being represented on film. And in order to be fully accurate, filmmakers have to show all sides. It cannot be done narrowly.

True, and that is why I enjoyed discovering and seeing the independent "race" films of the 30s and 40s, because they combated mainstream stereotypes with dimensional performances of characters and creating opportunities that way. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

True, and that is why I enjoyed discovering and seeing the independent "race" films of the 30s and 40s, because they combated mainstream stereotypes with dimensional performances of characters and creating opportunities that way. 

Of course, we can correlate this to films produced independently today (without studio backing) that more authentically depict LGBT issues.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, we can correlate this to films produced independently today (without studio backing) that more authentically depict LGBT issues.

Independent film works wonders that way. It's a shame there are people who only see independent film in the supposed "artsy" kind of way when they could see it in the artful, risk-taking way that it originally was. It's amazing what filmmakers could do with the budget and resources they had, and what beautiful works of film have been created under those constraints. 

 

I try to watch more indies than mainstream for those reasons myself. What binds the classic and the modern are those taking risks and experimenting. The future is in independent film. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Independent film works wonders that way. It's a shame there are people who only see independent film in the supposed "artsy" kind of way when they could see it in the artful, risk-taking way that it originally was. It's amazing what filmmakers could do with the budget and resources they had, and what beautiful works of film have been created under those constraints. 

 

I try to watch more indies than mainstream for those reasons myself. What binds the classic and the modern are those taking risks and experimenting. The future is in independent film. 

Exactly. Independent film made great strides in the 1990s. But sometimes it gets overshadowed by the latest waves of blockbuster moviemaking. The individual has to make a conscious attempt to seek out independent films and support them. 

 

As you indicated, usually patronage for these kinds of productions occurs at art-house cinemas. In a way, that makes them a specialized genre (for marketing purposes). And that can interfere with the freedom and the 'message' of independence.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly. Independent film made great strides in the 1990s. But sometimes it gets overshadowed by the latest waves of blockbuster moviemaking. The individual has to make a conscious attempt to seek out independent films and support them. 

 

As you indicated, usually patronage for these kinds of productions occurs at art-house cinemas. In a way, that makes them a specialized genre (for marketing purposes). And that can interfere with the freedom and the 'message' of independence.

That's why I am drawn to pioneers like Oscar Michaeux, Noble Johnson, Dorothy Arzner, and Ida Lupino. They were truly independent filmmakers. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's why I am drawn to pioneers like Oscar Michaeux, Noble Johnson, Dorothy Arzner, and Ida Lupino. They were truly independent filmmakers. 

Good point. Lupino and her ex-husband Collier Young had their own production company (The Filmakers) and were able to maintain a certain artistic vision with their stories. They had distribution deals through RKO, so I am sure Howard Hughes had a little say, but mostly they were allowed to do as they wished. They were free to take risks and be more inventive (provided their films earned money with audiences).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've enjoyed the discussion in this thread. I think it's been very productive!

 

I considered changing the thread title but at this point, since we have gone in a few directions-- I am not sure what the best title would be. :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was an actual discussion that developed into something greater, but I wouldn't change the title of the thread because we threaded into something productive, respectful, and informative all around. Personally, I've missed having these discussions here, and while I am no longer at the Classic Film Union, it was healing and comforting for me to talk film this way like this. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was an actual discussion that developed into something greater, but I wouldn't change the title of the thread because we threaded into something productive, respectful, and informative all around. Personally, I've missed having these discussions here, and while I am no longer at the Classic Film Union, it was healing and comforting for me to talk film this way like this. 

Glad you have found it helpful. As this thread went in new directions, I began to get ideas for future threads in this sub-forum. I think there is so much more to discuss!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think I am going to rename this thread. It needs to be a bit less specific, more general. I am going to ponder this and hopefully tomorrow or the next day, I will have come up with a better thread title.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I modified the original post and retitled the thread...I think this is a better way to proceed with the topic. Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if this thread might be better served in "General Discussions." On the one hand, it doesn't really deal exclusively with LGBT issues; on the other, even if it does deal with them, we don't want LGBT issues to be totally relegated to this section -- they have a place in General Discussions as well.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if this thread might be better served in "General Discussions." On the one hand, it doesn't really deal exclusively with LGBT issues; on the other, even if it does deal with them, we don't want LGBT issues to be totally relegated to this section -- they have a place in General Discussions as well.

That's a great point. There is a universalness to these issues, and as you said, they do not apply exclusively to one group.

 

Not long ago I created a thread in this sub-forum about Brando's role in REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE. I could easily have placed the thread in General Discussions or Your Favorites. The film itself is rather mainstream and references to Brando's character having homosexual tendencies are quite downplayed from McCullers' novel. But I wanted to gain the perspective of those who read and post on this sub-forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a great point. There is a universalness to these issues, and as you said, they do not apply exclusively to one group.

 

Not long ago I created a thread in this sub-forum about Brando's role in REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE. I could easily have placed the thread in General Discussions or Your Favorites. The film itself is rather mainstream and references to Brando's character having homosexual tendencies are quite downplayed from McCullers' novel. But I wanted to gain the perspective of those who read and post on this sub-forum.

Believe me, those of us who read and post in LGBT also look and post in General Discussions, so we won't miss anything, and you can have the benefit of our perspectives there. General Discussions is where this thread belongs. Please don't dilute the LGBT part of the site.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Believe me, those of us who read and post in LGBT also look and post in General Discussions, so we won't miss anything, and you can have the benefit of our perspectives there. General Discussions is where this thread belongs. Please don't dilute the LGBT part of the site.

I don't agree. We can also have general LGBT discussions here-- it is part of what this sub-forum serves.

 

This thread has been very productive and I have renamed it, not to dilute anything, but to bring more accuracy and overall focus to the thread. There are other threads here that someone can read if they feel this particular conversation does not suit them.

 

Thanks for understanding.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't agree. We can also have general LGBT discussions here-- it is part of what this sub-forum serves.

 

This thread has been very productive and I have renamed it, not to dilute anything, but to bring more accuracy and overall focus to the thread. There are other threads here that someone can read if they feel this particular conversation does not suit them.

 

Thanks for understanding.

Well, I don't understand. Look at the other threads in this part of the board -- they stick to their subjects. A practice which has been dear to your heart in other situations, at least when you're on the other side of the argument!

 

But at least your approach does give me license to return to bringing up LGBT films in General Discussions. For example, there's are thriving threads there related to specific movies, e.g. Captains Courageous as well as threads on other films. Perhaps it would be best, for example, for me to bring up threads like Eastern Boys; or other gay-themed films. Why should they not be seen by a broader audience? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I don't understand. Look at the other threads in this part of the board -- they stick to their subjects. A practice which has been dear to your heart in other situations, at least when you're on the other side of the argument!

 

But at least your approach does give me license to return to bringing up LGBT films in General Discussions. For example, there's are thriving threads there related to specific movies, e.g. Captains Courageous as well as threads on other films. Perhaps it would be best, for example, for me to bring up threads like Eastern Boys; or other gay-themed films. Why should they not be seen by a broader audience? 

I've sent a PM to you, because I feel you are definitely misinterpreting things here. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I can respond to the current discussion, I do like the new title of this thread, and since it is a universal, well-drawn out conversation look at authentic representation of different social groups in film, I don't see why it wouldn't be a General Discussions thread also. But I also agree as to why its been regulated to this specific sub-genre discussion thread.

 

I often wonder why we as a culture separate discussions, views, entertainments, and topics to the labels of difference. We aren't a society that celebrates differences as positive things unless there is a guise of denial to it saying "I know you are a human being, but don't tell me how society treats you for being different because I don't want to hear it." It's a constant excuse that often leads to heated discussions about race, sexual orientation, gender, class, disability, and the like. How we socialize difference in our ability to not discuss another person's experiences and history of those experiences is not helping advance anything. 

 

It took a long time for TCM to grant us this sub-genre space called LGBT because in the General Discussions, things were getting heated to a point of lava in a volcano and people wanted a space to talk about LGBT films and themes in film relating to the LGBT experience. Personally, I think because this individual thread merits more than just LGBT- centered representation in film, but representation of other social groups deemed different, and maybe that's why the OP thinks that it would be better suited in the General Discussions, but since this is ( I hope) a "safe space" I can see why there is an upset to suggest this topic shouldn't be here, even though the origin of conversation started and carried to a point of authentic representation in film. 

 

I think if we could return to talking about authentic representation in film and less on where the place is in this forum, the better. I have a few new thoughts on the matter myself and would like to articulate them at some point. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I can respond to the current discussion, I do like the new title of this thread, and since it is a universal, well-drawn out conversation look at authentic representation of different social groups in film, I don't see why it wouldn't be a General Discussions thread also. But I also agree as to why its been regulated to this specific sub-genre discussion thread.

 

I often wonder why we as a culture separate discussions, views, entertainments, and topics to the labels of difference. We aren't a society that celebrates differences as positive things unless there is a guise of denial to it saying "I know you are a human being, but don't tell me how society treats you for being different because I don't want to hear it." It's a constant excuse that often leads to heated discussions about race, sexual orientation, gender, class, disability, and the like. How we socialize difference in our ability to not discuss another person's experiences and history of those experiences is not helping advance anything. 

 

It took a long time for TCM to grant us this sub-genre space called LGBT because in the General Discussions, things were getting heated to a point of lava in a volcano and people wanted a space to talk about LGBT films and themes in film relating to the LGBT experience. Personally, I think because this individual thread merits more than just LGBT- centered representation in film, but representation of other social groups deemed different, and maybe that's why the OP thinks that it would be better suited in the General Discussions, but since this is ( I hope) a "safe space" I can see why there is an upset to suggest this topic shouldn't be here, even though the origin of conversation started and carried to a point of authentic representation in film. 

 

I think if we could return to talking about authentic representation in film and less on where the place is in this forum, the better. I have a few new thoughts on the matter myself and would like to articulate them at some point. 

What got me started about this thread was the sidetracking of it into what became a chat about independent films in general. The great thing about this thread was (and I'm sorry I can no longer say "is") the specificity of the subject, just like any other sub-genre subjects: pre-code, westerns, etc.  It has become much more of a thread that fits the exact type of thread that one finds in general discussions.  And I fear what may come next -- a thread that changes thread titles regularly? Oy vay. This has all made me realize that, although this LGBT space is a good one, I think it may NOT be a good idea to keep these sorts of discussions from non-LGBT view; hence, although I may join in a thread here if I find it interesting, any future threads I begin related to LGBT issues will probably find themselves in General Discussions.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us