hepclassic

The Color Purple- Celie & Shug

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Though Alice Walker refuses to be labeled for her sexual orientation, she has explained that the characters of Celie Johnson and Shug Avery are a couple in The Color Purple, and when the movie was made in 1985, how, considering the stigma of being GLBT in America in the height of the AIDS crisis, Spielberg and the producers kind of softened up the actual written relationship between Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) and Shug (Margaret Avery), leaving us with only a kiss, and a side toward wind chimes, which means, maybe sex. 

 

This is the only mainstream image I remember of GLBT women of color having a romantic and sexual relationship on screen, and while this scene may have contributed to the controversy surrounding the film, it isn't really talked about. At the most, Whoopi Goldberg said she played a lesbian in The Color Purple recently on The View. 

 

Since it's African-American History Month, and since there is a mainstream absence of GLBT women of color on screen, let alone GLBT men of color on screen, I thought this could be worth discussing. It seems that films about GLBT of color individuals barely achieve it past the indie circuit. Pariah (2011) won the highest honor at Sundance and Spike Lee produced the film, but it didn't have a mass distribution. 

 

Is Hollywood afraid of the many beautiful stories of GLBT men and women of color? 

 

Are there any Pre or Production Code films that hint at GLBT sexuality for men and women of color that aren't stereotypes? 

 

Or, do I have to just have this be my example for what I want to see in Hollywood today? 

 

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8b034674b30e98804413180fc90b4f14.jpg?ito

 

 

Though Alice Walker refuses to be labeled for her sexual orientation, she has explained that the characters of Celie Johnson and Shug Avery are a couple in The Color Purple, and when the movie was made in 1985, how, considering the stigma of being GLBT in America in the height of the AIDS crisis, Spielberg and the producers kind of softened up the actual written relationship between Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) and Shug (Margaret Avery), leaving us with only a kiss, and a side toward wind chimes, which means, maybe sex. 

 

This is the only mainstream image I remember of GLBT women of color having a romantic and sexual relationship on screen, and while this scene may have contributed to the controversy surrounding the film, it isn't really talked about. At the most, Whoopi Goldberg said she played a lesbian in The Color Purple recently on The View. 

 

Since it's African-American History Month, and since there is a mainstream absence of GLBT women of color on screen, let alone GLBT men of color on screen, I thought this could be worth discussing. It seems that films about GLBT of color individuals barely achieve it past the indie circuit. Pariah (2011) won the highest honor at Sundance and Spike Lee produced the film, but it didn't have a mass distribution. 

 

Is Hollywood afraid of the many beautiful stories of GLBT men and women of color? 

 

Are there any Pre or Production Code films that hint at GLBT sexuality for men and women of color that aren't stereotypes? 

 

Or, do I have to just have this be my example for what I want to see in Hollywood today? 

 

 

Could one of the reasons films featuring African-Americans didn't feature GLBT type relationships when movies featuring whites did (e.g. Making Love released in 1982) is because generally that community is more religious?      E.g.  Prop 8 won in CA and African-American religious leaders were for the ban and according to exit polls so were a majority of African-American voters.    

 

Is Hollywood afraid since the overall community is behind the times when it comes to acceptance of the issue of GLBT relationships?

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Could one of the reasons films featuring African-Americans didn't feature GLBT type relationships when movies featuring whites did (e.g. Making Love released in 1982) is because generally that community is more religious?      E.g.  Prop 8 won in CA and African-American religious leaders were for the ban and according to exit polls so were a majority of African-American voters.    

 

Is Hollywood afraid since the overall community is behind the times when it comes to acceptance of the issue of GLBT relationships?

Considering that African-Americans are more accepting of GLBT individuals today, and to note that that assumption probably doesn't even rest when we consider how many GLBT men and women of color were around in the eighties anyway, I think that the assumption doesn't fly anymore. 

 

You might as well say that there shouldn't be films regarding feminists who identify as Christian just because it would offend the Christian community. Films like Suffragette wouldn't have been made if that were the case. 

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And Hollywood is afraid of many things, particularly because most studio execs and producers are old, white, heterosexual men who vote with their money, i.e. conservatives, which is probably why #OscarsSoWhite is so controversial.

 

Getting back to the actual discussion, outside of white fear of a sexual rainbow of colors, do you know of any films that would answer my questions? 

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I have only seen "The Color Purple" once, but my memory of Shug is that she was very important to Celie's development as a true human being who found her sense of self-worth.

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Considering that African-Americans are more accepting of GLBT individuals today, and to note that that assumption probably doesn't even rest when we consider how many GLBT men and women of color were around in the eighties anyway, I think that the assumption doesn't fly anymore. 

 

You might as well say that there shouldn't be films regarding feminists who identify as Christian just because it would offend the Christian community. Films like Suffragette wouldn't have been made if that were the case. 

 

I would be interested in polling data that shows that a larger percentage of African-Americans are pro-SSM then whites.    Clearly polling data shows African-Americans attend church more so than whites and there is a correlation between church attendance and being less then welcoming towards the GLBT community.

 

Also I didn't say there shouldn't be films featuring GLBT African-Americans;  Instead I said that maybe black film makers like Tyler Perry don't feature them because those characters wouldn't sit well with many in the community these filmmakers are trying to appeal to.

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I would be interested in polling data that shows that a larger percentage of African-Americans are pro-SSM then whites.    Clearly polling data shows African-Americans attend church more so than whites and there is a correlation between church attendance and being less then welcoming towards the GLBT community.

 

Also I didn't say there shouldn't be films featuring GLBT African-Americans;  Instead I said that maybe black film makers like Tyler Perry don't feature them because those characters wouldn't sit well with many in the community these filmmakers are trying to appeal to.

Thanks for clarifying. The point of logic I don't see, and this could just be my youth talking here, it's not like you don't see white filmmakers hesitant to make films about white GLBT individuals if it doesn't sit well with the white church-going community if the appeal is for everyone and anyone to see it. Unless you are suggesting reducing social groups to niche markets when they aren't niche markets. 

 

White, church-going heterosexuals are still afraid of films about GLBT individuals. Where else does the "homosexual agenda" come from with them? 

 

As for GLBT men and women of color, there was a youtube video that went viral showing an African-American minister tell his congregation that they need to be more accepting of their GLBT neighbors because many of them are probably in the church choir. It made sufficient rounds, particularly of people who believe people of color are more heterosexist than white people (even though the reverse is true), but I am sure that there are church-going African-Americans who went to see Brokeback Mountain, The Color Purple,  and Precious:Based On The Novel By Sapphire. What they came away with is what they came away with, but I'm sure they saw those films. 

 

The downside I am seeing with projecting this assumption is that, and please clarify, is that African-Americans would more likely obey their minister than anybody else, and I have problems with that assumption because African-Americans are intelligent, sentient beings who have a right to consent and a right to disobey like white people do. Again, please clarify, I don't want to read in too deep here and say something without a cause.  

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I have only seen "The Color Purple" once, but my memory of Shug is that she was very important to Celie's development as a true human being who found her sense of self-worth.

I think given how men abused her, to quote Alice Walker "it was natural then for Shug to fall in love with Celie." 

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Thanks for clarifying. The point of logic I don't see, and this could just be my youth talking here, it's not like you don't see white filmmakers hesitant to make films about white GLBT individuals if it doesn't sit well with the white church-going community if the appeal is for everyone and anyone to see it. Unless you are suggesting reducing social groups to niche markets when they aren't niche markets. 

 

White, church-going heterosexuals are still afraid of films about GLBT individuals. Where else does the "homosexual agenda" come from with them? 

 

As for GLBT men and women of color, there was a youtube video that went viral showing an African-American minister tell his congregation that they need to be more accepting of their GLBT neighbors because many of them are probably in the church choir. It made sufficient rounds, particularly of people who believe people of color are more heterosexist than white people (even though the reverse is true), but I am sure that there are church-going African-Americans who went to see Brokeback Mountain, The Color Purple,  and Precious:Based On The Novel By Sapphire. What they came away with is what they came away with, but I'm sure they saw those films. 

 

The downside I am seeing with projecting this assumption is that, and please clarify, is that African-Americans would more likely obey their minister than anybody else, and I have problems with that assumption because African-Americans are intelligent, sentient beings who have a right to consent and a right to disobey like white people do. Again, please clarify, I don't want to read in too deep here and say something without a cause.  

 

I didn't mean to imply that African-Americans 'obey their minister' more so then others.   I don't believe that is the case.   But I do feel church going folks (say people that go to church at least 3 times a month),  are more likely to follow church teachings then those that don't attend church very often (and of course agnostics)  AND it is my understanding that African-Americans (as well as Latinos) attend church more often then whites and that a higher percentage of under 40s whites are agnostic then in other community.    BUT I could be referring to old stats since acceptance of GLBT has changed fairly rapidly in all communities in the last 5 or so years. 

 

The bottom line here is that regardless of race the GLBT community stories should be shown in mainstream films in a positive light with less dated stereotypical behaviors.   Hollywood needs to get on board.   

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On youtube, you can watch the entire feature The Celluloid Closet (1995). I am not going to upload it here since I don't know what the copyright issues are (a.k.a. it would probably get deleted by the mods). For a while, only excerpts were available for viewing. I had seen it on AMC in the later '90s and personally think TCM could easily air it with limited or no controversy since there isn't much that is "shocking" compared to what you see on other channels on network TV. There are some fleeting bare bosoms on display in, I think, Personal Best, but no other nudity. The focus is on "mainstream" cinema below an R-rating. All kissing scenes are surprisingly chaste, with probably the most "heat" represented with Greta Garbo in 1933's Queen Christina.

 

They do include the scene from The Color Purple, but don't discuss the "lack of" racial representation there. However, there IS a discussion about how black performers could express more alternative "orientation" with ease compared to white performers, as seen in films like Next Stop, Greenwich Village and Car Wash. This echoes how black music performers from Cab Calloway through Little Richard could always show more "oomph" in their performances than white musicians pre-Elvis could. (Of course, the 1960s changed all of this with members of the all-white Who destroying their guitars as energetically as Jimi Hendrix.)

 

In addition, this documentary covers the fact that many heads of corporations (whether movie related or manufacturing or publishing or whatever) tend to be conservative and cautious because they have a phobia of losing everything with a public backlash. For example, 20th Century Fox backed Making Love with full support until it was taken over by new owners (I think Rich & Davis, just before Rupert Murdoch) and the director was forced to screen the finished film to executives alone because others involved panicked.

 

This would explain why Spielberg tended to downsize the lesbianism in his promotion of The Color Purple. A "like" discussion was made with Green Fried Tomatoes. (Nonetheless most of the kissing scenes in The Celluloid Closet involve women since average viewers are less disturbed by that and "straight" males actually enjoy it more than are offended by it.) It is not that the director or producer is necessarily skittish and not broad-minded enough, but public reaction and its impact on finances always held sway. That is why today's cinema is focused on crashes and explosions, since everybody is comfortable with THAT.

 

On another note, another documentary on youtube (that I can't remember the title of) stated that the MPAA ratings involve many parents screening films and judging according to what they personally feel comfortable or uncomfortable with their pre-teens watching. Sex is still very disturbing to many parents today, but violence is NOT because they "assume" their children won't copy-cat violent acts like they would the hopping-into-bed scenes. Also bare in mind that 1 in 3 voters polled recently in South Carolina who are voting on the Republican ticket are still very much against gay rights because they primarily view it all as a "sexual" issue rather than a "social / human rights" issue.

 

America still has a loooooong way to go. Although we see a lot more interracial couplings in public than we did, say, twenty years ago, even THAT is hardly "mainstream" and (despite ii being legal for almost FIVE decades), these couples still get looked at a lot in public places. So... don't hold your breath about a great many social issues in America because it is a country that only wants to see change happen slooooowly.

 

In any case, that is a good documentary covering all discussed here and is an especially good one for homophobic Republican viewers to watch as well, since there isn't much that would put them into a state of rage and they may actually learn something about themselves in the process. After all, it predated Brokeback Mountain by a decade and all that has followed since.

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As

 

On youtube, you can watch the entire feature The Celluloid Closet (1995). I am not going to upload it here since I don't know what the copyright issues are (a.k.a. it would probably get deleted by the mods). For a while, only excerpts were available for viewing. I had seen it on AMC in the later '90s and personally think TCM could easily air it with limited or no controversy since there isn't much that is "shocking" compared to what you see on other channels on network TV. There are some fleeting bare bosoms on display in, I think, Personal Best, but no other nudity. The focus is on "mainstream" cinema below an R-rating. All kissing scenes are surprisingly chaste, with probably the most "heat" represented with Greta Garbo in 1933's Queen Christina.

 

They do include the scene from The Color Purple, but don't discuss the "lack of" racial representation there. However, there IS a discussion about how black performers could express more alternative "orientation" with ease compared to white performers, as seen in films like Next Stop, Greenwich Village and Car Wash. This echoes how black music performers from Cab Calloway through Little Richard could always show more "oomph" in their performances than white musicians pre-Elvis could. (Of course, the 1960s changed all of this with members of the all-white Who destroying their guitars as energetically as Jimi Hendrix.)

 

In addition, this documentary covers the fact that many heads of corporations (whether movie related or manufacturing or publishing or whatever) tend to be conservative and cautious because they have a phobia of losing everything with a public backlash. For example, 20th Century Fox backed Making Love with full support until it was taken over by new owners (I think Rich & Davis, just before Rupert Murdoch) and the director was forced to screen the finished film to executives alone because others involved panicked.

 

This would explain why Spielberg tended to downsize the lesbianism in his promotion of The Color Purple. A "like" discussion was made with Green Fried Tomatoes. (Nonetheless most of the kissing scenes in The Celluloid Closet involve women since average viewers are less disturbed by that and "straight" males actually enjoy it more than are offended by it.) It is not that the director or producer is necessarily skittish and not broad-minded enough, but public reaction and its impact on finances always held sway. That is why today's cinema is focused on crashes and explosions, since everybody is comfortable with THAT.

 

On another note, another documentary on youtube (that I can't remember the title of) stated that the MPAA ratings involve many parents screening films and judging according to what they personally feel comfortable or uncomfortable with their pre-teens watching. Sex is still very disturbing to many parents today, but violence is NOT because they "assume" their children won't copy-cat violent acts like they would the hopping-into-bed scenes. Also bare in mind that 1 in 3 voters polled recently in South Carolina who are voting on the Republican ticket are still very much against gay rights because they primarily view it all as a "sexual" issue rather than a "social / human rights" issue.

 

America still has a loooooong way to go. Although we see a lot more interracial couplings in public than we did, say, twenty years ago, even THAT is hardly "mainstream" and (despite ii being legal for almost FIVE decades), these couples still get looked at a lot in public places. So... don't hold your breath about a great many social issues in America because it is a country that only wants to see change happen slooooowly.

 

In any case, that is a good documentary covering all discussed here and is an especially good one for homophobic Republican viewers to watch as well, since there isn't much that would put them into a state of rage and they may actually learn something about themselves in the process. After all, it predated Brokeback Mountain by a decade and all that has followed since.

 

As for seeing interracial couples or gay and lesbian couples;   here in So Cal,   there are many commercials that feature these type of couples;  e.g.  commercials on insurance,  cable T.V.  companies,   mobile device services etc.. 

 

Very noticeable change in the last few years.  Some even have them waking up in the morning and getting ready (clearly implying these are sexual couples).    

 

I wonder if these type of commercials are shown to the same degree in other parts of the country like the Midwest or the South?

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Oh I agree that it has improved a lot... in terms of interracial relations and all other kinds of relations... and we can actually THANK  the producers of TV and movies... and commercials (even if that One "Thousand" Moms group went into a state of rage over the "two dads" Campbells Soup ad). I am not saying that this country isn't progressing. One plus: the internet has made things happen faster.

 

Yeah... there are still plenty of towns in this country that will not show "socially progressive" TV ads.

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Maybe it speaks to the intelligence of this reactionary groups why they won't just turn off the television if they see a Campbell's soup ad or a JCPenney commercial, let alone a television show with gay characters or a movie with gay characters.

 

I can see them publicly saying to "live and let live" but the reality of it is "I'll let you live if you just shut up about this." 

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Gay and Lesbian characters are now more visible on tv and in commercials- but going back to the thread- as I recall the relationship between Celie and Shug was rather tame.

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Maybe it speaks to the intelligence of this reactionary groups why they won't just turn off the television if they see a Campbell's soup ad or a JCPenney commercial, let alone a television show with gay characters or a movie with gay characters.

 

I can see them publicly saying to "live and let live" but the reality of it is "I'll let you live if you just shut up about this." 

 

Oh Hep. I know you eagerly expect a Soap Box Speech out of me over this remark.

 

I'll give it to you, but shrink down the text if other readers don't want to bother with it. :D

 

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One thing I really love about the Republican debates is that they are forcing us to recognize all of our own prejudices and personal hang-ups that have been hidden by being "polite". Donald Trump simply "tells it like it is" and you are entitled to be either outraged or join him in expressing yourself with no filter.

 

One reason I absolutely ADORE Ted Cruz as a psychological study (and everybody here moans "we know... you keep discussing him relentlessly..."  ) is because he is totally clueless about himself. He has no self awareness, in contrast to a TV character like, say, Archie Bunker who at least occasionally "stepped outside of himself" and recognized (if not always admitted) his stubborn opinions about those different than himself. Cruz is so convinced that his word is God's word that he doesn't even understand himself, let alone his own religion.

 

On the other political threads, we have discussed him being asked several times by reporters... point blank... "Why do you dislike gay Americans?" Not once has he given a straight answer (such as... say... "I don't dislike them, but I don't agree with gay marriage" or "I take Leviticus very seriously and feel they should be punished" or "I disliked them because Pastor Kevin Swanson tells me to and he is always right" or "They make me sick" or any other LOGICAL answer we would expect ANY politician to say). Instead he consistently re-directs a question to avoid answering: "Why does The Left have an obsession with sex?" (as if that is all gay Americans and "The Left" do in life and nothing else) or "Do you dislike Christians?" (as if there is no way on God's Green Earth that a Christian would EVER associate with a gay American any more than he/she would associate with a Jew or Muslim, two other "groups" Cruz intensely dislikes but doesn't admit up front). Also, instead of discussing whether or not "gay Americans" are being treated fairly in this country by those exercising their "religious freedoms", he will change the subject to ISIS: "you should be concerned about Radical Islamic Jihadists because they KILL homosexuals". (This is just like a white southerner used to say to the "colored folk": "you should be happy that slavery was abolished".)

 

Those who have what they want in life already do not like hearing those "beneath them" complaining about not being treated equal. If they do, then they are accused of "wanting special privileges". This is why Black Lives Matters activists are aggressively tossed out of Trump rallies with chants of "All Lives Matter" since the all-white attackers think, since THEY are fairly treated in society, everybody must be and nobody should be "wanting special privileges".

 

******************************

 

Oh-Kay Dokey. Soap Box Time over. Back to topic...

 

As suggested in my earlier post, back in the 1980s and '90s in "mainstream Hollywood", it was easier to show The Kiss in The Color Purple than to suggest anything lesbian-ish in, say, Green Fried Tomatoes because the latter features Caucasian leads. This would be more offensive to the "majority" watching. It is OK for "minorities" to do certain things, since that is... "them". Ditto: Thelma & Louise only kissing before they kill themselves driving off a cliff!!

 

Intriguingly both film storylines feature an abusive husband. While he is NOT representative of men in general (and there are "gentle" men in both films too), we don't see any other tender and considerate heterosexual love-making in either film. On the plus side, Danny Glover's character in The Color Purple at least recognizes his faults long after Whoopi's Celie leaves him and eventually reunites her with her sister... even though HE was the reason they were kept apart in the first place. In Green Fried Tomatoes, HE even gets killed after all of his abusiveness (and tries to kidnap his son from the mother) and we are then given a mystery story... "it is all in the barbecue sauce". Yet both films have very lesbian-ish overtones because the ladies find their most comfortable relationship with somebody of the same gender, NOT the opposite gender.

 

I guess those who believe people are not born gay but "become that way" could use these two films as an "excuse" for the same sex kiss in the one and the no-kissing-but-plenty-of-curious-bonding in the other.

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As suggested in my earlier post, back in the 1980s and '90s in "mainstream Hollywood", it was easier to show The Kiss in The Color Purple than to suggest anything lesbian-ish in, say, Green Fried Tomatoes because the latter features Caucasian leads. This would be more offensive to the "majority" watching. It is OK for "minorities" to do certain things, since that is... "them". Ditto: Thelma & Louise only kissing before they kill themselves driving off a cliff!!

 

Intriguingly both film storylines feature an abusive husband. While he is NOT representative of men in general (and there are "gentle" men in both films too), we don't see any other tender and considerate heterosexual love-making in either film. On the plus side, Danny Glover's character in The Color Purple at least recognizes his faults long after Whoopi's Celie leaves him and eventually reunites her with her sister... even though HE was the reason they were kept apart in the first place. In Green Fried Tomatoes, HE even gets killed after all of his abusiveness (and tries to kidnap his son from the mother) and we are then given a mystery story... "it is all in the barbecue sauce". Yet both films have very lesbian-ish overtones because the ladies find their most comfortable relationship with somebody of the same gender, NOT the opposite gender.

 

I guess those who believe people are not born gay but "become that way" could use these two films as an "excuse" for the same sex kiss in the one and the no-kissing-but-plenty-of-curious-bonding in the other.

 

Isn't it a 'not born gay' POV that women are not born lesbians but instead become one because they grew up around abusive men (e.g. a step-father that abused them sexually)   i.e. if they grew up around caring men that didn't abuse them,  they would end up loving men instead of hating them and turning into lesbians.

 

So I view this 'excuse' 180 degrees differently than you (or I'm misunderstanding your POV here). 

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Isn't it a 'not born gay' POV that women are not born lesbians but instead become one because they grew up around abusive men (e.g. a step-father that abused them sexually)   i.e. if they grew up around caring men that didn't abuse them,  they would end up loving men instead of hating them and turning into lesbians.

 

So I view this 'excuse' 180 degrees differently than you (or I'm misunderstanding your POV here). 

 

You probably are misunderstanding me.

 

I don't subscribe to that concept myself... being more of the born-that-way persuasion than the become-that-way thinking that many of the anti-gay religious sort strongly support.

 

However... what I was questioning here (or insinuating) is if "mainstream" Hollywood panders to that logic in order to avoid trouble (or did back in the more conservative 1980s). The same sex affection in The Color Purple and similar films (Green Fried Tomatoes being the one film that is open to comparison here) over emphasize the abusive male as if he may be "the reason" women become intimate together.

 

I probably still have you confused, don't I?

 

Going back to the Midnight Cowboy vs. Brokeback Mountain discussion on the other thread. It seemed that Hollywood (a.k.a. Academy voters) was more comfortable with the earlier film because the lead character Joe was "forced" into a gay life in order to make ends meet... and every effort was made to show him NOT being intimate in any way with Rico despite sharing living quarters.

 

Now... I probably have you more confused.

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Gay and Lesbian characters are now more visible on tv and in commercials- but going back to the thread- as I recall the relationship between Celie and Shug was rather tame.

Spielberg probably made it so given the subject nature. I mean, imagine throwing white America over the shoulder with African-American characters who weren't one-dimensional stereotypes, and on top of that, two of those character have a long-standing gay love story! 

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jlewis- I get your logic. 

 

Considering the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in the mid-1980s would be doubly affronted by showing sexual diversity on top of having a "diverse"(which was code for "black" in the longest time post-Production Code) film would have to be walked into the idea. Remember these are the same people, those whom are still living if they are, who would only consider recognizing a colorful talent like Halle Berry if she had cinema sex with someone as visually repulsive as Billy Bob Thornton playing a repulsive character like he did in Monster's Ball (2001), for a person of color to achieve a Best Actress Oscar statuette. 

 

It's not that America as a whole needs to be guided through accepting stories of "different" social groups on a basic level to relate to (i.e. Tom Hanks in Philadelphia (1993), Sidney Poitier in any film of his in the 1960s), but I am thinking that Oscar bait end-of-the-year released films are to appeal to Academy voters than the film-going public. There would be no point in releasing those films that late if there wasn't a campaign strategy planned. 

 

I don't mean to discredit the films released, but as a film watcher, the question of "why" presents itself strongly as of late. One can see trends in Oscar voters based on their results. Right now, the Academy wants to reward, not only people that resemble their majority (i.e. white males), but resemble their age and the struggles of age, like films exploring Alzheimer's (i.e. The Iron Lady, Still Alice), or a do-gooder white savior film where someone supposedly completely politically opposite does a nice thing for their political opposite (i.e. The Blind Side, The Queen, The King's Speech, The Iron Lady), and making a campaign off of the "challenge" of satisfying a voter trend. 

 

Regarding GLBT representation on screen, I wonder if the lack of ambiguity comes from a hesitant industrial fear that leads to films not getting any advancement in funding, and private advancement via Oscar campaigns. If Spielberg didn't have American Graffitti, Jaws, and E.T., would The Color Purple had any chances at all for the recognition of a nomination? Probably not. Does the film have faith to the story of which it was based? Sure, not counting the creative license of taming the lesbian love affair between Celie and Shug because America at the time was too busy being scared to death of their GLBT neighbors for fear of AIDS. But in modern discussion, I think it's safe to say, if The Color Purple were to be remade, would America still be hesitant to see Celie and Shug's relationship in full authentic extent, or would blame go to the African-American community for the white half-tolerance of GLBT individuals? 

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I recently learned that the "average" age of an Academy voter is roughly 60 (basically a baby boomer today, but also likely white too... with a slight preference to British Rock over Hip-Hop... and, no, nothing wrong with that).

 

We also know that corporations are timid. There were a lot of gay-themed films screened at Sundance and the various European film festivals throughout the 1980s, but you never saw these getting Oscar nominated pre-The Crying Game and Philadelphia... and not often later. Hollywood is still run by timid corporations who will only change gradually with the times. Just like politicians in Washington D.C. are run by timid corporations, which is why a Republican senator will never vote against the NRA.

 

I personally think The Color Purple and Schindler's List are Spielberg's masterpieces, more so than Jaws, Close Encounters, E.T., the Jurassic Park franchise or the vastly overrated (just my personal opinion) Saving Private Ryan. Part of my reasoning is that, like D.W Griffith with Intolerance, he was in a position to do whatever he wanted and did not conform necessarily to what the Bank of America thought would bring an easy profit. Was he still too cautious in how he adapted the original story's Celie/Shug relationship to the screen? Perhaps. Was there much else in mainstream Hollywood (run by corporations) that was as daring? Probably NOT.

 

Again, I view something like The Color Purple (oh... she kissed Shug because the men in her life were so abusive) much as I would Midnight Cowboy (oh... he only became gay out of necessity because the ladies weren't payin') in that, yes, they made excuses in their storylines, but at least they pushed the envelope a little bit in making something more acceptable on screen. Thanks to Midnight Cowboy, that director (John Schlesinger) was able to make Sunday Bloody Sunday.

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So, maybe it's a matter of time more than anything, and unregulated business practices corporations have in America that influence media presentation, and media suppression in regard to film distribution. 

 

Old, white, heterosexual, male studio execs do not support films made about the people whom they don't know and don't want to know call the shots on the representation without proper and respectful agency of the groups who demand better. Seeing the film industry as a larger social system where corporations owning film studios, rather than the studios having enough money for self-sustainability (thank you 1970s America) are, therefore, less likely to produce films like The Color Purple without known share-holders at the table. 

 

So, what can the film-goer do to change this? Particularly if they are not of the socialized identity traits of an old, white, heterosexual male studio executive. Right now, all I can do is point out that I like the Celie & Shug relationship. It relates to a reality of my life that doesn't get represented well in media still, regardless of social progress. I would like to see more of it, and concurrent to the point I made on a previous posting, my box office choices DO reflect my desires to see a more inclusive film industry. Change takes time, but I am not in the waiting room- I am behind the desk working to make sure the right projects come in and that the bosses like this. 

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So, maybe it's a matter of time more than anything, and unregulated business practices corporations have in America that influence media presentation, and media suppression in regard to film distribution. 

 

Old, white, heterosexual, male studio execs do not support films made about the people whom they don't know and don't want to know call the shots on the representation without proper and respectful agency of the groups who demand better. Seeing the film industry as a larger social system where corporations owning film studios, rather than the studios having enough money for self-sustainability (thank you 1970s America) are, therefore, less likely to produce films like The Color Purple without known share-holders at the table. 

 

So, what can the film-goer do to change this? Particularly if they are not of the socialized identity traits of an old, white, heterosexual male studio executive. Right now, all I can do is point out that I like the Celie & Shug relationship. It relates to a reality of my life that doesn't get represented well in media still, regardless of social progress. I would like to see more of it, and concurrent to the point I made on a previous posting, my box office choices DO reflect my desires to see a more inclusive film industry. Change takes time, but I am not in the waiting room- I am behind the desk working to make sure the right projects come in and that the bosses like this. 

 

As I have said 100 times,  making movies is all about making money.   So studio producers (old, white,  hetero etc...) will make any type of film about any subject IF they believe it will make money.    i.e.  It isn't about not supporting certain type of subject matter.

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You probably saw it before, Hep, but go ahead and find The Celluloid Closet on youtube and give it another viewing. I recommend that documentary for any ol' movie buff, regardless of "orientation", since it covers a lot of fascinating material spanning from 1912-1994. Also Lily Tomlin is a good narrator.

 

Also both you and jamesjazzguitar realize that the three of us are part of a dying breed. Many in the younger generation are not into movies much. Their entertainment is found in youtube, video games, maybe Netflix (until the novelty wears out) and other venues. Some are forecasting the death of television itself within the next two decades.

 

On the plus side, the younger crowd is also more open to variety... and less subject to prejudice... than their parents. Gay themed entertainment is very much alive and thriving, but it is more of a specialty market (a.k.a. TLA Video, etc.) just like video games, country music, golf, NASCAR and everything else. Heck, even TCM is a specialty market these days.

 

They say the average movie shown on a movie screen must consist of special effects because the average movie goer is a twenty five year old male who can see any kind of sexuality on the internet for free. Heck... we no longer see "topless babes" on screen any more unless it is 50 Shades Of Grey.

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As I have said 100 times,  making movies is all about making money.   So studio producers (old, white,  hetero etc...) will make any type of film about any subject IF they believe it will make money.    i.e.  It isn't about not supporting certain type of subject matter.

In light of that point, The Color Purple had great box office. 

 

As of late, The Help had great box office. Colored Girls had great box office. The Butler and 12 Years A Slave had great box office. Selma had fantastic box office. So, a film about, made by, and starring African-Americans makes great box office and the trend is swinging. However, the Old Establishment of Hollywood, is hesitant, which means it would take a lot more money for them to recognize these films on a yearly basis. Reaching out to diversify the voting bodies would help, but it's on par with finding African-American political figureheads to endorse this candidate or that candidate along with appealing language from the candidate in question. 

 

(This is a political metaphor here, so bare with me as this is subject related)

 

Hollywood according to studio execs is the Hillary Clinton to the film-going audience's Bernie Sanders. Sanders is edging close, causing Clinton to get defensive and up the game, as the Academy has done. However, what will be at bay when the sun rises in a year will determine who will be shining under it and experiencing the glow for the first time. 

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