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Contemporary 'classics'

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Actors no matter how skillfull can not pull off every role for example I never believe Al Pacino as a Cuban in "Scarface" and now they are threatning a remake with Leonardo DiCaprio - seriously they can't find ONE latino actor to play that role.  But of course acting is about pretending- Matt Damon who is straight- has played gay several times and pulled it off specially in "Behind the Candelabra"

I am an actor myself, and it's not about pretending, it is about truth. I don't mean to sound pretentious, but the best performances come from truth. And it's not that Hollywood couldn't find one Latino actor to play the role, it is just that Al Pacino and Leonardo DiCaprio bring in the bucks at the box office. They don't give a damn about the art form. They want their receipts to come in boatloads. And in film, a Hollywood film no doubt, there isn't really room for audience to see otherwise another actor in another role unless the public is allowed to see audition footage, and even then, its the audition of whoever is cast the lead in the film. There are plenty of actors who could play Scarface. Antonio Banderas, Edward James Olmos, Freddie Rodriquez, Michael Pena, but do the studio execs believe they will bring in the money? Probably not. There is a reason why those listed actors are better seen in independent films where they lead rather than mainstream films where they play the mainstream stereotype. Matt Damon and Michael Douglas got Liberace because the producers thought it would take big names for the supposed heterosexual audience to see the film, on television no less. 

 

But, where is the truth? The truth is is that Hollywood could easily cast actors of color if they choose to. They choose not, scapegoat the box office, condescend to the audience, and call it a wrap. By the time the Oscars roll around, they pat themselves on the back for continuing exclusionary business practices and call it progress when they let an under-recognized subject film get recognized, even though if its a GLBT centered film, the actor recognized is heterosexual. If it's a film about race, the actor of color will win for a role that could easily be the mainstream stereotype even if the performance is not, and if it's a film about race involving white people, reward the white actor for being the white savior because the Academy's voting body is old, heterosexual, white, and male anyway. We can call progress what it is and can appreciate it for what it is, but it won't be real until there is more diversity in recognition and in organization. We have white, heterosexual people complaining when a heterosexual actor wins for playing GLBT because the actor played GLBT and that social difference is contentious. We have white people complaining when an actor of color gets recognition, because objectively seeing a performance for performance's sake is reduced to the racist idea that "they only got it because their black." (case in point, Halle Berry, Octavia Spencer, Lupita Nyong'o). But the fault rests in the industry that continues to exclude and make exceptions while following the same narrative. 

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Rupert Everett has the right to be "bitter" because as soon as he came out, the roles dried up. Matt Bomer came out while he still working, I think that says something to the effect of Hollywood business practices. 

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Matt Damon who is straight- has played gay several times and pulled it off specially in "Behind the Candelabra"

And perhaps that is why, when someone interviewed him, he was asked about gays and gay roles in Hollywood. He was probably also suggesting that people have wondered if he's really gay. And if they believe he is, it's because he approaches his roles with a bit of mystery. LOL

 

I also think he's a fan of Rupert Everett and was bemoaning the fact that Everett's career as a leading man hit the skids, when maybe it didn't have to-- if Everett had stayed in the closet and kept playing the 'game.'

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I wouldn't buy it if they said that. Too many other things happening in the industry related to this issue. We have ones still deeply in the closet. And tied to those dramas is all the self-loathing going on in Hollywood, that even out gays and lesbians feel. This is going on in all segments of society. We see it here on these message boards with some posters who don't even realize the anger they are projecting. 

 

But because Hollywood is predominately left-progressive (my phrase), they want stories to reflect gay orientation. Some sitcoms are so cliched at this point they have an obligatory gay character (usually in support to a hunky straight lead). And despite the example you cite which is not the norm, mostly they are afraid to alienate the folks in Peoria too much. So they have to bring straight but gay-friendly performers into a lot of these roles. When you think about it, very little progress has been made on this front.

 

I find it hard to believe uptight anti-gay folks in Peoria (or anywhere really), would be more accepting of gay characters on screen because the actor isn't gay.    Of course I don't understand why anyone would be anti-gay to begin with so maybe these folks would react that way.    

 

I don't agree that one's sexual orientation makes one more authentic by default.    The job of an actor is to make the character they are playing authentic.     A solid actor that is mild mannered should be able to pull off the role of a blustering bully just like a gay actor can pull off the role of a non gay character.   e.g.  Neil Patrick Harris as Barney.      

 

I do agree that gays are too often portrayed as over the top and overly feminine characters.    Once one gets to know the gay community one learns that their personas vary just like in any other community.   Of course maybe producers and directors feel gay characters need to be a certain way to ensure the audience get that they are gay but this is just feeding into a very narrow stereotype (one that is very dated based on my experience).

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I just saw this great video on you tube in which Jake Gyllenhaal talks about making "Brokeback Mountain" ( by the way is TCM going to run this classic during Oscar month?) and he makes some  very interesting points.   I agree that casting a lead in a movie has lot to do with an actor's box office appeal.

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I just saw this great video on you tube in which Jake Gyllenhaal talks about making "Brokeback Mountain" ( by the way is TCM going to run this classic during Oscar month?) and he makes some  very interesting points.   I agree that casting a lead in a movie has lot to do with an actor's box office appeal.

I just checked. And BROKEBACK is not scheduled this year. 

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I find it hard to believe uptight anti-gay folks in Peoria (or anywhere really), would be more accepting of gay characters on screen because the actor isn't gay.    Of course I don't understand why anyone would be anti-gay to begin with so maybe these folks would react that way.    

 

I don't agree that one's sexual orientation makes one more authentic by default.    The job of an actor is to make the character they are playing authentic.     A solid actor that is mild mannered should be able to pull off the role of a blustering bully just like a gay actor can pull off the role of a non gay character.   e.g.  Neil Patrick Harris as Barney.      

 

I do agree that gays are too often portrayed as over the top and overly feminine characters.    Once one gets to know the gay community one learns that their personas vary just like in any other community.   Of course maybe producers and directors feel gay characters need to be a certain way to ensure the audience get that they are gay but this is just feeding into a very narrow stereotype (one that is very dated based on my experience).

Well, the folks in Peoria probably wouldn't care for such stories-- but if they know the actor is not really gay, then they can take comfort in the fact that the gayness depicted on screen is not for real. And in a comedy, especially, who would be threatened or take it serious-- especially if gays (played by straights) are stereotypes, this type of let's pretend can be for them a fun form of clowning.

 

Regarding your second paragraph-- and I am not equating murder with homosexuality (just throwing out examples)-- but couldn't an actor convincingly play a killer, and not be one in real life, by studying case histories of convicted murderers? In the same way, an actor could study the struggles of gay men and lesbians in order to give a believable performance as a homosexual character, without being gay in real life. But I think deep down, the actor has to relate to the impulses-- in these examples, whether they are homicidal impulses or sexual impulses-- whatever compels the character to act in a certain way.

 

The last part of what you wrote is a whole other topic, actually. Producers are going to keep an eye on the bottom line. So at some point, they have to look at how palatable the story would be and who the target audience is, whether or not they will pay to see it.

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Well, the folks in Peoria probably wouldn't care for such stories-- but if they know the actor is not really gay, then they can take comfort in the fact that the gayness depicted on screen is not for real. And in a comedy, especially, who would be threatened or take it serious-- especially if gays (played by straights) are stereotypes, this type of let's pretend can be for them a fun form of clowning.

 

Regarding your second paragraph-- and I am not equating murder with homosexuality (just throwing out examples)-- but couldn't an actor convincingly play a killer, and not be one in real life, by studying case histories of convicted murderers? In the same way, an actor could study the struggles of gay men and lesbians in order to give a believable performance as a homosexual character, without being gay in real life. But I think deep down, the actor has to relate to the impulses-- in these examples, whether they are homicidal impulses or sexual impulses-- whatever compels the character to act in a certain way.

 

The last part of what you wrote is a whole other topic, actually. Producers are going to keep an eye on the bottom line. So at some point, they have to look at how palatable the story would be and who the target audience is, whether or not they will pay to see it.

 

Actors often take the time to dig deep into the inner working for the character 'type' they are playing so they can be as authentic as possible.  e.g.  Olivia DeHavilland spend time at a mental hospital to prepare for the role of a women with mental illness for The Snake Pit.       

 

If the overall issue here is increasing working opportunities for gay actors, I'm assuming the end result of 'only gay actors should play gay characters' would be less work for gay actors,  due to the fact that there are far more non-gay roles and gays can't be authentic in non gays role by default (if one buys in this paradigm of the need to aligning an actors sexual orientation with that of the role they are playing).    

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I find it hard to believe uptight anti-gay folks in Peoria (or anywhere really), would be more accepting of gay characters on screen because the actor isn't gay.    Of course I don't understand why anyone would be anti-gay to begin with so maybe these folks would react that way.    

 

I don't agree that one's sexual orientation makes one more authentic by default.    The job of an actor is to make the character they are playing authentic.     A solid actor that is mild mannered should be able to pull off the role of a blustering bully just like a gay actor can pull off the role of a non gay character.   e.g.  Neil Patrick Harris as Barney.      

 

I do agree that gays are too often portrayed as over the top and overly feminine characters.    Once one gets to know the gay community one learns that their personas vary just like in any other community.   Of course maybe producers and directors feel gay characters need to be a certain way to ensure the audience get that they are gay but this is just feeding into a very narrow stereotype (one that is very dated based on my experience).

I suppose if we tested out the reverse would audiences feel the same about authenticity. 

 

The musical Hamilton has been brought up in recent discussion regarding people of color playing the Founding Fathers, and the recent happenstance of a white actor playing Martin Luther King in a Ohio production of Katori's Hall "The Mountaintop." If only they could be considered the same things because they aren't. Hamilton is how an actor of color, who wrote, scored, directed, and starred in the show used the musical to relate to the Founding Father by connecting it to present America and hit on immigration. That's gotten flack because it blends freestyle rap with established showtune environment, and people, particularly white, would much rather stick to 1776 and leave it at that, even though 1776 took late 60s/70s style Broadway techniques to tell a story, and Lin-Manuel Miranda is just telling a story and making Broadway audiences less rich and white regarding appeal is all. As for The Mountaintop, I can see the argument that for a historical figure like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom we know plenty about and is more recent in our history, authenticity is WAY apart of the story telling the play presents. The director's choice to cast a white actor to test the waters of character content casting is doing what the director wanted to do- create discussion. Personally, I would have chose differently as to how best to accomplish that, but if that is what the director wanted to do, and he did it, and did it well, then this attention and discussion was the goal met. 

 

Now, we could parse the challenge of a white actor playing a black actor's role as apart of the challenge, but to assume that the white actor is better than the black actor is a racist take-away. Entertainment as a social institution takes away that a white actor is better qualified to an actor of color by default, because of the racist assumption that the black actor doesn't have the same level of training nor opportunities that the white actor has. It takes something extra to consider the black actor. Why does it have to be considered extra? 

 

The racism is in the default, rather than the equal opportunity. If Spike Lee directed 12 Years A Slave, would British actor Chitwetel Ejiofor be considered the lead still? Steve McQueen who directed and produced the film is British himself, and maybe he thought since Hollywood loves the British that the same could be true for British actors of African descent. Spike Lee, an American director, could have easily cast Denzel Washington or Michael B. Jordan as the lead in the film. But, McQueen argued for authenticity as you are doing right now, James. Imagine if Steve wanted Michael Fassbender to play Solomon Northup, would there be an argument for his right to do so? Would explanations be invented to justify the casting? 

 

I think we cannot make the rule for authenticity in entertainment when it only applies to white, heterosexual actors and not the same for actors of color, homosexual actors, bisexual actors, and transgender actors. It presents a double standard. 

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I suppose if we tested out the reverse would audiences feel the same about authenticity. 

 

The musical Hamilton has been brought up in recent discussion regarding people of color playing the Founding Fathers, and the recent happenstance of a white actor playing Martin Luther King in a Ohio production of Katori's Hall "The Mountaintop." If only they could be considered the same things because they aren't. Hamilton is how an actor of color, who wrote, scored, directed, and starred in the show used the musical to relate to the Founding Father by connecting it to present America and hit on immigration. That's gotten flack because it blends freestyle rap with established showtune environment, and people, particularly white, would much rather stick to 1776 and leave it at that, even though 1776 took late 60s/70s style Broadway techniques to tell a story, and Lin-Manuel Miranda is just telling a story and making Broadway audiences less rich and white regarding appeal is all. As for The Mountaintop, I can see the argument that for a historical figure like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom we know plenty about and is more recent in our history, authenticity is WAY apart of the story telling the play presents. The director's choice to cast a white actor to test the waters of character content casting is doing what the director wanted to do- create discussion. Personally, I would have chose differently as to how best to accomplish that, but if that is what the director wanted to do, and he did it, and did it well, then this attention and discussion was the goal met. 

 

Now, we could parse the challenge of a white actor playing a black actor's role as apart of the challenge, but to assume that the white actor is better than the black actor is a racist take-away. Entertainment as a social institution takes away that a white actor is better qualified to an actor of color by default, because of the racist assumption that the black actor doesn't have the same level of training nor opportunities that the white actor has. It takes something extra to consider the black actor. Why does it have to be considered extra? 

 

The racism is in the default, rather than the equal opportunity. If Spike Lee directed 12 Years A Slave, would British actor Chitwetel Ejiofor be considered the lead still? Steve McQueen who directed and produced the film is British himself, and maybe he thought since Hollywood loves the British that the same could be true for British actors of African descent. Spike Lee, an American director, could have easily cast Denzel Washington or Michael B. Jordan as the lead in the film. But, McQueen argued for authenticity as you are doing right now, James. Imagine if Steve wanted Michael Fassbender to play Solomon Northup, would there be an argument for his right to do so? Would explanations be invented to justify the casting? 

 

I think we cannot make the rule for authenticity in entertainment when it only applies to white, heterosexual actors and not the same for actors of color, homosexual actors, bisexual actors, and transgender actors. It presents a double standard. 

There is a big difference between casting a play and a movie- plays can be more stylized but cinema even though is a less realistic medium needs more realistic casting.  A movie about slavery in the south would never get away by casting white actors as  slaves unless it's some sort of  satirical comedy.  In the theater I think the audience has a greater sense of imagination the best production I ever saw of Romeo and Juliet was with an all male cast and bare stage- the power of the story and Shakespeares' poetry mad it work.

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I suppose if we tested out the reverse would audiences feel the same about authenticity. 

 

The musical Hamilton has been brought up in recent discussion regarding people of color playing the Founding Fathers, and the recent happenstance of a white actor playing Martin Luther King in a Ohio production of Katori's Hall "The Mountaintop." If only they could be considered the same things because they aren't. Hamilton is how an actor of color, who wrote, scored, directed, and starred in the show used the musical to relate to the Founding Father by connecting it to present America and hit on immigration. That's gotten flack because it blends freestyle rap with established showtune environment, and people, particularly white, would much rather stick to 1776 and leave it at that, even though 1776 took late 60s/70s style Broadway techniques to tell a story, and Lin-Manuel Miranda is just telling a story and making Broadway audiences less rich and white regarding appeal is all. As for The Mountaintop, I can see the argument that for a historical figure like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whom we know plenty about and is more recent in our history, authenticity is WAY apart of the story telling the play presents. The director's choice to cast a white actor to test the waters of character content casting is doing what the director wanted to do- create discussion. Personally, I would have chose differently as to how best to accomplish that, but if that is what the director wanted to do, and he did it, and did it well, then this attention and discussion was the goal met. 

 

Now, we could parse the challenge of a white actor playing a black actor's role as apart of the challenge, but to assume that the white actor is better than the black actor is a racist take-away. Entertainment as a social institution takes away that a white actor is better qualified to an actor of color by default, because of the racist assumption that the black actor doesn't have the same level of training nor opportunities that the white actor has. It takes something extra to consider the black actor. Why does it have to be considered extra? 

 

The racism is in the default, rather than the equal opportunity. If Spike Lee directed 12 Years A Slave, would British actor Chitwetel Ejiofor be considered the lead still? Steve McQueen who directed and produced the film is British himself, and maybe he thought since Hollywood loves the British that the same could be true for British actors of African descent. Spike Lee, an American director, could have easily cast Denzel Washington or Michael B. Jordan as the lead in the film. But, McQueen argued for authenticity as you are doing right now, James. Imagine if Steve wanted Michael Fassbender to play Solomon Northup, would there be an argument for his right to do so? Would explanations be invented to justify the casting? 

 

I think we cannot make the rule for authenticity in entertainment when it only applies to white, heterosexual actors and not the same for actors of color, homosexual actors, bisexual actors, and transgender actors. It presents a double standard. 

 

First my post only address homosexual actors and not race.   But since you mention race;  in many cases race or ethnic background  is different since it is very obvious to the audience that someone isn't the same race or ethnic background;  e.g.  it would be very difficult for Elvis to appear authentic paying the part of James Brown in a film.   

 

But to me the above doesn't apply to the playing of a homosexual character in a film OR a homosexual character playing a NON homosexual character.    I don't know if you have ever seen How I Met Your Mother,  but Neil Patrick Harris is very believable as a non homosexual character.       

 

If Hollywood producers where to increase the casting of homosexual actors for homosexual roles due to what you feel is 'truth',  shouldn't these same producers also reduce the casting of a homosexual actor in a non homosexual role?   OR does this 'truth' only work in one direction?

 

In addition this so called 'truth' would also apply to actors based on where they were born.  e.g.  Laurence Harvey was Lithuanian;  if this so called 'truth' is applied universally,   Harvey wouldn't have been cast in 99% of the films he was in since there wasn't many Lithuanian characters in movies at the time.    

 

The above is why I'm not buying into this so called truth. 

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There is a big difference between casting a play and a movie- plays can be more stylized but cinema even though is a less realistic medium needs more realistic casting.  A movie about slavery in the south would never get away by casting white actors as  slaves unless it's some sort of  satirical comedy.  In the theater I think the audience has a greater sense of imagination the best production I ever saw of Romeo and Juliet was with an all male cast and bare stage- the power of the story and Shakespeares' poetry mad it work.

But, the reality of the inequality (ies) rest in this- this absurd practice of whitewashing and cisgendering actors towards character has been going on for a while, and groups of people still feel neglected by the practice. The dominant white, heterosexual narrative is that these groups are "sensitive" when in actually, they just want equal respect. 

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Also, one has to consider the hidden history here, as there were Europeans of African descent in Shakespeare's time

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But, the reality of the inequality (ies) rest in this- this absurd practice of whitewashing and cisgendering actors towards character has been going on for a while, and groups of people still feel neglected by the practice. The dominant white, heterosexual narrative is that these groups are "sensitive" when in actually, they just want equal respect. 

Can you explain what you meant by "cisgendering actors towards character"...I have no idea what you're trying to say there. Thanks.

 

And in another post you used the word "ablesit." Did you actually mean ableist...?

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Can you explain what you meant by "cisgendering actors towards character"...I have no idea what you're trying to say there. Thanks.

 

And in another post you used the word "ablesit." Did you actually mean ableist...?

I do mean ableist, thank you for pointing that out  :) .

 

Cisgender is what the regular gender is called. Or binary, meaning only two genders. As to cisgendering actors toward character, I mean having heterosexual actors portray GLBT characters. 

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I do mean ableist, thank you for pointing that out  :) .

 

Cisgender is what the regular gender is called. Or binary, meaning only two genders. As to cisgendering actors toward character, I mean having heterosexual actors portray GLBT characters. 

Okay, I get it now. I appreciate the explanation of these terms.

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