Showing posts with label Gay TV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay TV. Show all posts

January 5, 2017

Ellen Discusses with Pharrell Williams Kim Burrell’s Anti Gay Statements

Thursday's episode of The Ellen Show is a bit different than originally planned. 
Gospel singer Kim Burrell was originally scheduled to perform a song from the Hidden Figures soundtrack with Pharrell Williams on the talk show, but her appearance was canceled after a video of Burrell making anti-gay statements at Houston's Love & Liberty Fellowship Church went viral. In the video Burrell calls homosexuality "perverted." On Tuesday, DeGeneres announced to fans on Twitter that Burrell would not be performing on the show, and Pharrell posted to Instagram denouncing “hate speech of any kind."
In a clip released from the episode, Pharrell and DeGeneres discuss Burrell and her comments directly. "(Burrell) made a statement, and she said some very not nice things about homosexuals, so I didn't feel that was good of me to have her on the show to give her a platform after she's saying things about me," the host explained, before turning to Pharrell.
“There’s no space, there’s no room for any kind of prejudice in 2017 and moving on. There’s no room,” the artist said.
He added that Burrell is a "fantastic singer," and "I love her, just like I love everybody else and we all got to get used to that. We all have to get used to everyone’s differences and understand that this is a big, gigantic, beautiful, colorful world and it only works with inclusion and empathy. It only works that way."
“Whenever you hear some sort of hate speech and you feel like it doesn’t pertain to you because you may not have anything to do with that, all you got to do is put the word black in that sentence, or put gay in that sentence, or put transgender in that sentence, or put white in that sentence and all of the sudden it starts to make sense to you,” he continued. “I’m telling you, the world is a beautiful place but it does not work without empathy and inclusion. God is love. This Universe is love and that’s the only way it will function."
And while he acknowledged hate can be powerful, he concluded with a further championing of inclusion.
"And I get it, sometimes the divisive stuff works in life. We learned that lesson last year that sometimes divisiveness works," he said. "But you have to choose what side you’re on. I’m choosing empathy. I’m choosing inclusion. I’m choosing love for everybody just trying to lift everyone. Even when I disagree with someone, I’m wishing them the best and hoping for the best because we can’t win the other way.”

December 20, 2016

SNL Gay Robot Scene

April 4, 2016

We Need Less “Out” Narratives and More Gay sex on TV Like the Straights Do

Adam Goldman in The Outs' second season. Photo: Vimeo
Adam Goldman’s 2012–2013 web series The Outs follows Mitchell (Adam Goldman), his best friend Oona (Sasha Winters), his ex-boyfriend Jack (Hunter Canning), and Jack’s new boyfriend Paul (Tommy Heleringer) through breakups and upsets that rearrange their relationships with one another. The first season (with seven episodes in less than three hours altogether, a very manageable binge) was funded on Kickstarter, and, after a three-year hiatus, the series was given a second season, which premiered Wednesday as a Vimeo Original.
Goldman conceived, directed, and co-wrote the series with Winters, his real-life friend and roommate, and much of the show’s feel is due to their smart, sharp writing and the distinct aesthetic of the show’s director of photography, Jay Gillespie. “From our perspective it still feels very scrappy,” Goldman told me, explaining that he and Gillespie edited the season together, much as they did the first, to save money on editors. “It’s the same team, and it still feels pretty DIY — just better-funded DIY.” 
Over lunch in Brooklyn, I talked to Goldman about season two, the problem with gay sex on HBO, and why we need fewer coming-out narratives.
Now that you’ve made one season of The Outs in this DIY way and a second season as a Vimeo Original, what do you see as the value or the place of web series in the television landscape?The only variable that exists is the quality, because now more than ever, people are ingesting this work — I hate the word “content,” so I never use it — on laptops. Or you’re watching it on your Roku or on your Apple TV. You’re watching it all the same way, and that’s incredibly intimate. So if it’s bad, people won’t watch it. Vimeo can produce that or Amazon can produce that or Netflix can produce that, and in a funny way those things are at an advantage, rather than network television that you have to watch on your TV.
The tricky part is, there’s nowhere to discover anything. This is why I ask everyone that I talk to, Is there any queer web stuff that I should be aware of? Because it’s everywhere. And if you have a friend who has a friend who has a friend in Portland who made a great gay web series, there’s no reason I should have heard of that. There’s no central channel. And not that there should be, or that there even can be because so many people are creating stuff, but I like what Vimeo is doing because they’re picking artists that they like and they’re supporting their work.
Did Vimeo approach you about picking up The Outs or had you reached out?They approached me. They did several episodes of High MaintenanceHigh Maintenance got picked up by HBO, and Vimeo wanted to keep doing original narrative work, so they reached out to me and said we should work on something. We talked for a while about doing a second season of The Outs or a second season of Whatever This Is. [another Goldman-Gillespie web series about reality-TV production assistants working in New York] and that was kind of my preference, and they were like, “We would rather do The Outs.” The more I thought about it, it made sense to return to The Outs. I resisted a little at first, but I got over it.
I’ve been talking a lot lately about this artsy-fartsy term I use: “longitudinal storytelling.” A longitudinal science study [takes place] over years and years; so it’s the same thing with narrative. I like returning to characters, and my favorite movies are big movies, like There Will Be Blood or Boogie Nights, that are about people over the course of their whole lives, so I love the idea of television that you can, in real time, weave in and out of people’s lives. It’s a really cool opportunity to do that.
It feels more realistic, the idea that you might lose touch with a friend, or that all your friends don’t hang out all the time at the same time. It’s a great twist on what sort of is a “friends” show — or, a show about relationships.It’s a show about relationships. That’s a good way of putting it. And to take those characters, frankly, out of the Girls-y realm of “What am I doing? Where am I going? I don’t know, I’m just an aimless millennial,” you know, to give them a little more grounding. Also to prove that that can happen. Because, for example, on something like Girls, it doesn’t seem to happen. Those characters are still very much up in the air. Which is valid, but we don’t have a lot of narratives of millennials landing. The only stories that have been told so far are like, “I can’t get a job, I can’t pay rent.” I wanted to capture that landing trajectory a little more.
I like that Jack has a job that he just doesn’t like, and that a job is not a main trait of any of the characters on the show.People bristle at that sometimes, but I feel like everyone I know in our cohort just gets a job and is dispassionate about it, until it crushes you and then you realize you have to do something else. There’s this wonderful English show called Pulling from a few years ago that ran for two seasons — it got a Christmas special and then it got canceled. It’s the biggest influence on the show. It’s the same main woman as on Catastrophe, Sharon Horgan, she’s a genius. You never learn her job on the show — and I didn’t realize this at the time, but it’s the same thing that we did on The Outs — because she was like, if it doesn’t matter to her, it doesn’t matter to the audience. So she’s always just in an office, answering a phone, doing a thing with paperwork. That’s really in the first season what Mitchell’s job is.
In the second season you know what he’s doing, but Jack is now in this anonymous paper-pushing job, and that is his arc of the season. I wrote that scene in the first episode of the season, where he has this ridiculous interaction with his co-worker that’s a really nothing interaction, as a placeholder, and then I was like, no, when you’re in that job, every day is a placeholder. And that wears you down, and then you go home, and you have your beer, and you talk to your boyfriend who’s away, and it’s not fun.
It’s an uncommon way of framing anyone’s life in New York, but work is the least interesting part of most of my friends’ lives.It’s funny, I was talking to a friend of mine the other day about, like, where is our gay medical drama? Or our gay cop procedural? So much queer media is just about being queer. And that’s tricky, and I think that was a problem with, for example, Looking. I was thinking the other day about how many bad queer movies there are, and how many coming-out narratives, and the truth is, in a funny way, all those shitty movies about coming out need sequels. Because I’m interested in who all of those people become, I’m just not interested in where they started. Like, they’re all superhero origin stories, and that’s not interesting because queer people are more interesting than where they came from, inevitably.
I wanted to talk about queer politics. One of my favorite scenesin the first season of The Outs is in the Chanukah Special, when Mitchell talks about getting called “faggot” at a Whole Foods. Those kinds of conversations are so central to queer friendships, the fact that you can empathize and argue about what you’re supposed to do because it’s a common experience.I mean, you look at a lot of other gay stuff and it’s just about being a cockhound. And that does represent six hours of your life a week, but that’s not all we do all the time. And in a funny way, it’s rare to see queer people talking about that stuff.
I agonized over that [scene] in the days leading up to shooting it, because I really didn’t want to have anyone get the shit beaten out of them. You’re not going to get beat up in a Whole Foods, but you know … I had just heard Margaret Cho saying her advice to people who [encounter hate-speech] is to walk away, because that person being hateful to you is not all there, and they hate you, and you should swallow your pride and you should take your safety into your own hands. But at the same time I couldn’t find someone else out there saying, Actually, it’s okay to stick up for yourself sometimes. And that felt important. [That character] says in the episode, “Use your brain, but use your balls, too.” And I do think you have to strike that balance. But yeah, almost in this Bechdel Test way, there’s just not a lot of queer people talking about queer politics. People are like, “Is it a gay show? Does it appeal to a gay audience?” I don’t know the answer. I would like to think that the straight people in my life would be interested to hear how gay people talk about gay politics. I don’t know if in a mainstream way that’s sexy for people — and I don’t care. 
 I love a sex scene, but it has to be in service of something. I’m not going to do it just because it’s hot. There’s enough of that. One of the things about Looking that bothered me was the sex, because it felt engineered to titillate, but HBO is still extremely squeamish about male nudity, so they couldn’t do anything interesting. There was a little gay sex scene on [a recent episode of] Girls, and it had more heart and humor and honesty in it than anything that happened on Looking. Just because they have a level of frankness on that show that, you know, sex is ridiculous, and it’s okay to admit that sex is ridiculous, and not have it be all blurry rim jobs and moaning. ... But unfortunately, that’s sort of what we have to work with.
I don’t want to be caught talking shit, but we have a lot to be angry about. If you’re an engaged viewer of queer media, you have a lot to be up in arms about. I said some terrible thing in an Interview magazine interview in2013 where I was like, “I don’t want to say broadly that more representation is better,” and I regret that now, because of course more is better. I know at the time I was reacting [to] a different media landscape, and when there’s so little, you really do put a lot of pressure on every representation that comes out, and if it portrays your whole culture as, like, a hard cock, then that’s something we are allowed to object to.
The Outs is frank and nonchalant about sex — casual references to having had threesomes, for instance. In the Chanukah Special it’s an aside that comes off like it could be a joke, but it’s not a thing.And it’s not relevant. It’s interesting to know that they had threesomes with people, but it’s not about figuring that out. I was talking to someone the other day who was like, “I’m so curious who in those relationships is the top and who’s the bottom.” Like, really? You’re so curious about that? That accounts for, like, 4 percent of that relationship. I’m happy that you can think of the show when you’re jerking off and, like, plug and play, but that’s so irrelevant to character.
Paul and Jack talk about their relationship in this very adult way that feels open to the possibilities that queer relationships have. It’s a strength of The Outs that you bring things up, and you have issues that are present, but they’re not, like, “A special message from The Outs.”I had to lean into that, giving the audience credit, or assuming that part of the reason the audience is there is for those conversations, is for that very granular, talking it through, and that that’s not boring to people.
Mitchell and Jack feel like they’re still the heart of the show, that they’re friends in this way I think gay men can be uniquely. It’s not a Rachel and Ross thing.It’s so funny because straight people, like my roommate Sasha, who plays Oona, she’s like, “I really want Jack and Mitchell to be together.” They see it and for them the will they/won’t they is central to the show, but really the impetus of the show is that they won’t. [Laughs.] That’s not the point of the show. And even if they do, they won’t. Even if they slept together, it wouldn’t mean that they’re soulmates. And that was where the whole show came from, was examining that — knowing people who loved each other and then hated each other and then came out the other side, and you still have that intimacy with someone, but it doesn’t mean the same thing.
How did you get Alan Cumming to be on the show?Oh! So he tweeted at us after like the fifth episode of the first season. He was like, “I’m obsessed with this show.” And then I met with him and he was like, “I wanna be on the show, can’t I just like shag one of the guys?” And I was like, “No, because at a certain point it will become the Alan Cumming episode.” So I’m actually really proud of the way in the Chanukah Special when he shows up, you’re like, “Why is this cameo here?” and then it turns out to be a plot point and it fits in. So he’s back in the second season.
I like that he’s kind of a sad sack.He’s a sad sack, and he’s playing a very slutty version of himself. It’s fun to play with him. He always wants to be more involved, but he just has a crazy schedule because he’s doing The Good Wife, and so it’s about finding the right way for him to enter the story, cause a little chaos, and leave.
This interview has been edited and condensed.

February 11, 2016

No More Nice Guy Gay Character on TV ‘Where is Will and Grace?’

 “Will and Grace’ There was no other gay character show before  or after

Threats to gay men’s self-esteem come in many guises, from Grindr chats that end abruptly after sending a shirtless pic, to the 16% of Britons who think gay sex should be made illegal (thanks guys), to the five remaining countries that believe we should be put to death. Until now, I hadn’t factored in that we may all be silently agonising over whether or not we compare favourably to Will Truman from TV relic Will & Grace – but according to new research, that is precisely what has been knocking our confidence.

Psychologists from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge have found that the positive portrayal of gay men on TV “can be damaging”. Apparently, gay men may have been left depressed by movies and TV shows that promote an assumption that we all must be well-dressed, emotionally available and whip-smart. The project leader, Dr Daragh McDermott, argues: “On the face of it, stereotypes associated with gay men, such as being fashionable or witty, appear positive. However, by their very nature, these stereotypes pigeonhole what it means to be gay and lead to unrealistic expectations of how gay men are expected to behave. Gay men who don’t fit the common stereotype are often marginalised for not living up to these expectations, which can have an impact on their mental health.”

If gay men are being portrayed with unrealistic positivity – which I don’t believe – perhaps that would go some way to counteract the negative stereotypes that have existed in film and TV for years. A study published in 2014 by the US gay rights campaigning organisation Glaad found that the majority of LGBT characters featured in major studio releases are still offensive or defamatory portrayals (funny that, from an industry that bankrolled Lesbian Vampire Killers).

 The Jungle Book’s villain, Shere Khan, talks (with ‘gay’ voice) to the snake, Kaa.
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 The Jungle Book’s villain, Shere Khan, talks (with ‘gay’ voice) to the snake, Kaa. Photograph: Snap/Rex/Shutterstock
In his recent documentary, Do I Sound Gay?, film-maker David Thorpe explored how Disney villains, from Captain Hook to Shere Khan, often have stereotypically “gay” voices, meaning that generations of kids have been raised to associate being gay with being evil, if kind of fabulous.
Setting aside purely negative portrayals, the results of this latest study lead me to question whether the researchers can possibly have been watching the same programmes as I have – programmes where modern gay characters are often just as complex, damaged and infuriating as their straight counterparts. Apparently not. In fact, judging from the examples cited in the findings, their televisions have been operating on a time delay of 10-20 years. Alongside Will & Grace, they refer to characters from Sex and the City and My Best Friend’s Wedding. This last one was released in 1997, which, as a pop-cultural benchmark, was the same year the Spice Girls’ debut album was nominated for the Mercury prize.

While I agree that these examples promote an unhelpful stereotype of gay men as funny, sexless sidekicks, I’m unconvinced that these are qualities most gay men aspire to (most gay men I meet just want to be Russell Tovey, but that’s another story). If these shows have had a negative impact, it’s not because they have left swaths of gay men tremoring with insecurity that they’ll never measure up to Stanford Blatch.

Yes, series such as Will & Grace and Sex and the City reinforce a two-dimensional notion of what it is to be gay – basically, you’re kinda into Liza Minnelli – but things have moved on significantly since then. Take Looking, the HBO show about a group of gay friends living in San Francisco. Among their number are Eddie, a HIV-positive outreach worker for LGBT youth, and Dom, a struggling waiter in an open relationship with an older man. All in all, a slightly more complex take on modern gay life than Jack McFarland and his Cher doll.
Fox’s hip-hop melodrama Empire has been roundly celebrated for confronting the musical genre’s history of homophobia head-on. Jussie Smollett stars as Jamal, the black sheep middle child of a record executive, who is pushed out because of his sexuality. Jarring flashbacks to his abusive childhood sit alongside more – dare I say it? amusing – flashes of pernicious prejudice, such as his formidable mother Cookie’s insistence on referring to his boyfriend as “Dora”. Despite this, it’s clear that she loves him, which feels like a rounded take on a knotty subject.

On British screens, Russell T Davies’s Cucumber was similarly nuanced, exploring the life of a middle-aged gay man in all its messy, complicated glory. The protagonist, Henry, was a grumpy, selfish narcissist, entirely disillusioned with his own life. Most of the characters were gay, but were they in any way cute or aspirational? God, no. Or, at least, not from where I was sitting.

Although the new study relies on dated characterisations, the researchers and I can agree on the need for more multifaceted gay characters – not least to quiet the vocal minority. Perhaps as more gay characters reach our screens, both aspirational and abominable, less will hinge on the few that we do see. Because no TV show can be all things to all gay people – and shouldn’t be expected to try.

June 10, 2015

False Gay Characters on TV are Toxic


One-dimensional uber-camp clowns, storylines centred on “being gay”, potential sexual menaces who want to get into the pants of straight men, lesbians whose sexuality makes them a challenge for men to turn: here are how LGBT characters often appear on our screens. But that’s if they even appear at all. According to a new study by Glaad – which campaigns for LGBT representation in the media – there has been a small increase in films with LGBT characters, but from a low base. Out of 114 films they looked at, released in 2014, 17.5% featured non-straight characters, up from 16.7% the year before. Many of these depictions were problematic, with only just over half passing the “Vito Russo test”, which measures the quality of the representations. (A film only passes the Vito Russo test if it includes a LGBT character, where they are not entirely defined by their sexual orientation or gender, and they have a significant impact on the plot.)
Take Get Hard, the new so-called “comedy” starring Will Ferrell, which taps into the revulsion of some straight men at the very idea of gay sex. The release of such films is a salutary experience for many LGBT people. Look how far we have come, we often rightly think: the overturning of anti-LGBT laws across the western world, the transformation of once overwhelmingly hostile public opinions. And then, in 2015, it is still acceptable to release a film that taps into the very much still present fears and prejudices that many have about LGBT people.
With trans people, the situation is even worse. Attitudes towards trans people are stuck roughly where they were for gay men back in the 1980s: a toxic rhetoric of disgust abounds, with a frightening prejudice that trans people are sexual predators who will somehow trick the unassuming into having sex with them. As well as facing violence – sometimes murder – there are still legislative attempts to oppress and stigmatise them, like a bill submitted by a rightwing Miami Republican to ban trans people from using public toilets. And according to Glaad, there are all too few films featuring trans people. The need to show the reality of life for trans people is surely desperately needed.
Let’s face it: representation of LGBT people on our screens is comparable to how it was for those one-dimensional, insulting portrayals of black people that used to be so widespread in mainstream popular culture. Not that I’m saying that battle has been won either: Lenny Henry has been leading a campaign to tackle the lack of black and minority people in the entire media industry. The entertainment industry remains institutionally racist. But many gay writers have suggested that the portrayal of gay characters is sometimes analogous to those old minstrel shows, which are now rightly seen as unacceptable. Silly, cardboard cut-out gay men, comically mincing around for our general amusement.

Both TV and film reflect society’s general attitudes, but they also help reinforce them. More nuanced and complex takes on LGBT life are all too often ghettoised with shows such as Cucumber and Banana. A character being gay is often a storyline in and of itself: surely we need characters who simply happen to be gay, rather than being defined by it. Yes, some men are camp – loudly and proudly so – and all of us need to get over that. But others are football-obsessed, or metalheads, or any other repudiation of the pervasive stereotypes that exist. Some are bisexuals, facing prejudice from all sides and airbrushed out of existence. Orange is the New Black, with its mostly lesbian characters, has rightly won accolades and awards, but how often are lesbians otherwise portrayed on our screens?
LGBT people are as complex and varied as anybody else. They are still all too often invisible on our screens, and portrayed simplistically and problematically when they do appear. That will only change when we overcome the general prejudices in society that still exist. But that’s not an excuse. The films and TV shows of today will surely provoke bafflement in the future: “Where are all the realistic gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people?” they will ask. It will be a good question.
For decades Hollywood’s record of portraying gay characters on screen has been far from admirable, often falling into toxic stereotypes. But if that pattern appeared to have been altered by films such as Brokeback Mountain, Milk and Dallas Buyers Club, the industry has this week been accused of taking a step backwards with a blockbuster comedy described by some as an “ugly” example of homophobia.
Get Hard, a comedy starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart and released in UK cinemas on Saturday, follows a disgraced investment banker who is headed to prison in 30 days and enlists the help of a car-washer to help him prepare. What follows is 90 minutes of farcical comedy, built mainly around Ferrell’s fear of being raped while in prison and a general disgust at the concept of gay sex. During one scene, where Ferrell is taken to a “gay brunch spot”, Hart declares it will be easy to approach a gay stranger for sex, because “that’s what they do”. 
It is a movie that has prompted a wave of disgust from critics, who have accused the pervasive derogatory stereotypes of both sexuality and race as crossing the line from controversial humour to simply being offensive. Variety called it “the ugliest gay-panic humour to befoul a studio release in recent memory” while the Guardian’s Alex Needham wrote “I suspect that in years to come, media studies students will watch this film and be astonished that such a negative portrayal of homosexuality persisted in the mainstream in 2015.”
While the balanced treatment of sexuality in Hollywood is still considered be well behind that of both race and gender, recent moves in the industry have been perceived as a slow turning of the tide. Independence Day 2, which is due out next year, will feature a gay couple - an unusual move for a blockbuster. Speaking about the film director Roland Emmerich said: “We don’t make a big deal out of it. You start small and then you get bigger and bigger and bigger, and one day you have a gay character as the lead and nobody will wonder at it any more. But we’re not there yet.”
Recent research into Hollywood’s portrayal of gay characters found that only 17 of the 102 movies from major studios in 2013 featured lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters and, of those 17, the majority were offensive and defamatory portrayals. The statistics, compiled by campaigning organisation GLAAD, suggested that large Hollywood studios may still be doing more harm than good when it comes to worldwide understanding of the LGBT community. Not a single film released by the major studios that year had gay character in the lead role.  
Speaking to the Guardian, Telegraph film critic Tim Robey, who himself is gay, said that Get Hard proved the industry had not moved on from its troubling and derogatory past.  
“What’s troubling isn’t the premise that a straight man might be stricken by rape-anxiety before going to jail, but the crass and bludgeoning way it’s handled,” he said. “It’s very specifically presented as the Ferrell character’s fear of being raped by black men, for starters. But the joke curdles really badly when the film tries to bring gay characters on screen to back it up. The sequence at the ‘flirty’ brunch hangout, a low point in the whole movie, feels horribly backward, like the kind of thing you might expect to find in the 1980 Al Pacino film Cruising.”
He added: “There are ways to use homophobia in comic contexts which riff and evolve and wind up transcending it... Get Hard doesn’t dare get anywhere near this territory – it keeps pummelling you with the most regressive and fearful view of gay sex possible.” 
The criticisms have prompted the cast and crew of Get Hard this week to jump to the defence of the film. 
“The truth was that this was a really delicate balance. We wanted to think about stereotypes but not go too far,” the director Etan Cohen said earlier this month. 
Both Hart and Ferrell have also said that pushing boundaries with comedy is a way to challenge people’s prejudices. “The trick to keeping it funny is not being afraid to push the envelope,” Hart told the Associated Press. “At the end of the day, stereotyping is a situation a lot of people are guilty of, including myself. Until you know someone, it’s unfair to judge that book by its cover.” 
“We provoke. We prod. We also show a mirror to what’s already existing out there,” added Ferrell. “We’re playing fictitious characters who are articulating some of the attitudes and misconceptions that already exist.”
However Richard Barrios, author of Screened Out: Playing Gay in Hollywood, said that the film showed that Hollywood would continue to pander to the lowest common denominator as long as the industry can get away with it. Despite the critical reviews, the film is expected to take $40m at the US box office alone. 
“I’m sadly very familiar with the aesthetic that drives this film,” Burrios said. “Hollywood will always pay lip service to the gay community but when it comes down to the bottom line, they are still going to dredge up those old derogatory tropes and stereotypes. Gay panic is one thing and rape jokes are another and to put these two things together is especially pathetic on the part of the studio. This takes us back to the days of Eddie Murphy and those were not happy days as far as homophobic jokes were concerned.” 
He added: “They can’t do it so much with racial jokes or gender roles or demeaning women because they will get called on that, but they still feel they can get away with it where sexuality is concerned. I think a long time ago television passed up movies in terms of a reasonable and balanced portrayal of gay characters. Things have got a little bit better but in a big budget, R rated film with a younger target audience, that will be the last bastion of homophobia. As long as they can get away with it they will do it. It’s really sad but completely unsurprising.”

LGBT charity Stonewall also condemned the content in films such as Get Hard as damaging. “Homophobic, biphobic and transphobic language is endemic in Britain, particularly within our schools,” it said in a statement. “This kind of ‘banter’ that people see in Hollywood films and on-screen perpetuates the idea that this kind of language is acceptable.”
However Dr Andrew Moor, who specialises in the relationship between Hollywood and homosexuality, was unconvinced Get Hard offered any lasting damage. “Sure, it peddles lazy clich├ęs about homosexuality and has tired old stereotypes, and yes that can be offensive,” he said. “LGBT culture has campaigned against toxic representation for so so long now, and it’s still important....I’m not sure a piece of throwaway pop like this is worthy of any big campaign though.”

Key moments for LGBT cinema

  • The Boys in the Band: Adapted from the play, this critically acclaimed 1970 film is set at a party in New York and was one of the first pieces of cinema to revolve around gay characters.
  • Parting Glances: Shot in 1984 , it examines urban gay life during the Reagan era. The plot revolves around a gay couple and was one of the first films to address the HIV/Aids pandemic.
  • Philadelphia: This 1993 film is seen as a turning point for Hollywood’s portrayal of Aids and the gay community. The film starred Denzel Washington and Tom Hanks, who played a gay lawyer suffering from Aids.
  • Brokeback Mountain: Ang Lee’s moving drama about a two-decade love affair between cowboys won three Oscars in 2006 and was widely praised for its unique portrayal of a gay relationship.
  • Milk: Sean Penn won the Oscar in 2008 for his portrayal of Harvey Milk in this biopic of the first openly gay politician in California who campaigned for gay rights and was assassinated in 1978.
  • Dallas Buyers Club: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto both won Oscars in 2014 for their portrayals of a homophobic Texan cowboy and a drug-addicted trans woman who develop a friendship after they contract Aids.
  • The Guardian

March 9, 2015

More Black Gay Characters beginning to be seen onTV

Black, gay men are coming out — all over television.
In a rare and unprecedented season, there’s been an influx of black gay characters in prime-time dramas on hit shows including Fox’s “Empire,” BET's“Being Mary Jane” and OWN's “The Haves & The Have Nots.”

And while gay characters have been common on TV for years, black, gay men were hardly anything other than stereotyped sidekicks or hunky objects of affection.
That’s all changed now because these guys are essential to main storylines of each show, and depicted in non-stereotypical roles with their own eyebrow-raising story arcs.
This season's biggest success story, “Empire” has made major waves in the zeitgeist with R&B singer Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollet) who, while vying for his father's acceptance and competing for the top spot of the family empire also grapples with going public with his sexual orientation.
On “Being Mary Jane” — now in its second season — Mark Bradley (Aaron D. Spears) is a cable news anchor keeping his homosexuality secret from the public and his family. The character was challenged recently by his mom, (played by Emmy winner S. Epatha Merkerson) who grilled him about hiding his sexuality.
Meanwhile the third season of “The Haves & The Have Nots” (written, produced, created and directed by Tyler Perry) has had jaws dropping as with the story arc of Jeffrey Harrington (Gavin Houston) getting blackmailed by his own meddling mother (Angela Robinson), who refuses to accept that he's gay.
“It was only a few years ago that GLAAD's annual television reports found that gay black men were one of the most underrepresented groups on television, but the current influx of more diverse characters is a very promising sign," says Matt Kane, a program director at GLAAD.
While applauding the recent work that has been done, Kane stresses the importance of character development: "Those characters should also be distinct from one another, and represent a wide range of ages, socio-economic backgrounds, professions, and personalities."
It’s a skill not lost on filmmaker Patrik Ian Polk who for years has been breaking ground telling stories about the lives of gay black men in indie films such as “Punks,” “The Skinny” and the 2005 television series “Noah's Arc,” which aired on Viacom's Logo network.
"We so rarely get to see ourselves onscreen in any capacity, so it's always a big deal when it happens," says Polk, who is gay. He adds, "I don't think it's a trend as much as a sign of the changing times … It's refreshing to see characters with actual storylines and fully realized love lives. I think this speaks to the quickness with which we as a nation have opened up to the idea of 'gay' as a normal way of life, a regular part of our daily fabric."
BET, which has long been criticized for not creating original programming outside of the confines of hip hop and R&B music, broke form with “Being Mary Jane,” a one-hour drama focusing on the trials and tribulations of a single black female and her family and friends.
"BET Networks has worked hard to identify content that shares authentic stories and experiences that are reflective of our audience," says Charlie Jordan Brookins, senior vice president of original programming at BET. "The new season of 'Being Mary Jane' [is] a great example that while we are telling stories that contain provocative and engaging content, it is also raw and truthful."
GLAAD’s Kane says that with the success of such shows, he's hopeful television networks recognize that diversity can be a great contributor to commercial success and will keep up the forward momentum.
New York Daily News

February 24, 2015

Black Sail’s Actors Stir the Crock pots by Gay Twist on Show

Thomas Hamilton (Rupert Penry-Jones) and James Flint (Toby Stephens)
in a scene from Saturday’s 
Black Sails episode. 
Nothing like a TV show action hero coming out to stir up the crackpots, right?
We wrote about Black Sails‘ Big Gay Reveal yesterday and, as you might have noticed, the comments section for that post have gotten quite heated. Many people love that the Starz pirate series revealed that [SPOILER ALERT!] lead character Captain James Flint (Toby Stephens) had a same sex romance. Other fans of the show are apoplectic — shouting their disgust and accusing Starz and the show’s producers of caving in to the gay community and pushing a so-called gay agenda.
Funny, there never seemed to be an issue with Black Sails‘ copious graphic violence, heterosexual sex scenes — and even sexy lesbian characters jumping in the sack together. But the revelation that a male character’s great love was with another man — that is somehow reprehensible and worth abandoning the show over.
(l to r) Rupert Penry-Jones, Toby Stephens and Louise Barnes
Saturday’s big reveal filled in a lot of questions about what exactly had been going on back in England between Flint and Mrs. Barlow (Louise Barnes) and her sensitive husband Thomas Hamilton (Rupert Penry-Jones). So while we better understand Flint’s past, what does this mean moving forward? To find out, we talked with Black Sails creators Jonathan D. Steinberg and Robert Levine and, separately, with Toby Stephens about how long this character revelation has been in the works and what we can expect moving forward.
First up, here’s our Q&A with Steinberg and Levine:
TheBacklot: Tell us how you crafted the scenes between Flint and Thomas Hamilton. They’re so intimate and more emotional than I was expecting. Can you talk about those decisions?
Jon Steinberg: The story has always been there. It’s something that’s always had its own gravity within the construction of it. From the first season we knew where we wanted to go. The trick was, we wanted it to play as a reveal, to have the Miranda affair feel like it was the thing that was going to be in the forefront of everybody’s attention. So how do you build this romance in the background without tipping that it’s a romance? It’s tricky because everyone comes to it with their own preconceived notions. It’s hard to know where people’s assumptions are going to begin and end.
I think Rupert and Toby were really good at being able to convey this friendship that was very deeply felt. You got that they were bonding in what essentially amounts to very small snippets of screen time. By the time you get to that moment [the kiss], hopefully it’s surprising but feels earned and emotional and you understand what both of these guys are feeling and thinking and where their mutual attraction comes from.
Black Sails
I have to say, once I saw the episode, it definitely wasn’t minimized to one big sex scene which, with Black Sails and Starz, you could have gotten away with. It was about so much more than just sex.
JS: The governing principle for the story is that above everything else it’s an emotional connection. We didn’t want it to be a shock reveal for it’s own sake. We wanted it to be a reveal that was about an emotional and romantic connection that is driving so much of the story in the present day. To do that we felt like we needed to keep our eye on the ball and have it play as an emotional and romantic connection. The sexual component is obvious and clear and it has weight, but it’s not just a story about a sexual relationship.
Robert Levine: When you  finally know all of it, what you’re realizing is not that he had something, but you’re realizing what is lost. At that moment he’s lost something that was much more than physical. It gave him a sense of purpose, gave him identity, made him feel love and accepted and it comes very quickly after the reveal. It falls a lot on Toby and Rupert and Louise just how much important it was and how devastating it was when it all fell apart.
I’ll be watching the scenes in the ‘present’ differently because of this information. Have you thought about the reaction of your audience and how they’ll see Flint moving forward?
JS: I think there are going to be a lot of different reactions. This is one of those stories that’s so baked into the show and so baked into who Flint is. I feel like it’s one of those moments as a storyteller you just have to plant the flag and know that this is the right story to tell and it feels emotionally correct and it’s doing all the right things. We just hope that people get it. It’s a charged moment. It’s unexpected but it feels right and I think that’s all you can really hope for at some point.
There are going to be audience members that are going to want to see this play out in future episodes and seasons.  What would you say to people who ask why Flint isn’t checking out a gay bar in Nassau? Or at least having flings or relationships with men?
JS: I think what Miranda says to him in [episode] 2.05 is real. In this moment of pre-exile in the flashback, he is able to engage romantically and emotionally and sexually with Thomas, but there’s a part of him that is conflicted about it and that lives in a time where if you are a person who cares what people think of you and cares what your appearance is, it makes it complicated to wrestle with that component of your identity.
Remember in the early part of the season when Silver is throwing it at Flint– and when Miranda is throwing it at him: ‘You’re a person who cares about how people see you.’  That becomes real later. I think it will exist in negative space for a while, but it’s not forgotten. It’s an intent on our part to tell a story about a guy that no matter how politically balanced he can find a way to be or how motivated to be towards the money, or his ideals or Nassau or whatever, there’s a broken piece of his self image that he needs to continue to wrestle with. I think at some point we want to bring that back…and show what it’s like to be asking all the wrong questions about why you’re unbalanced and unsettled. It’s not like he has this moment…it’s traumatic. This one moment where he gives into not just a sexual relationship – I’m not sure that we think it’s his first homosexual sexual relationship – but a romantic one, a real one and one with someone with whom he has social connections. It feels likes to have that go as bad as it did, I don’t know that it could go worse than that for a first time. You carry that baggage with you. That’s a not a pool you jump back into again easily.
I’ve talked to Toby about being in control as Captain of a ship. Is it safe to say that feeds into all of this? The need to keep himself in control in every way?
JS: Totally. I think that’s where that comes from, the need to control things is so they don’t react to the things they can’t control. Places where you’ve been hurt before and making sure that it doesn’t happen again. 
Now that we know Flint’s past, what will we see next on the series?
The Backlot: How was it for you this season to get more back story into Flint?
Toby Stephens: Yeah, it was fun, because I knew where it was going. [The producers had] already told me about the whole back story when I started filming. There was a question of whether we were going to start doing that the first season, but I think they made the right decision, holding off for the second season. Because even though it’s probably challenging for an audience, at times, Flint’s behavior, I think it’s kind of great that you’ve got this guy who’s just thrown up this wall. And you never know what he’s thinking. The audience is kind of questioning whether he is a psychopath or there is something else. ‘What is it that’s driving this guy?’
And what is this Mrs. Barlow about? What’s this whole thing? And then the second season starts revealing it piecemeal, and it’s like this puzzle that they have to put together. And I really enjoyed doing it. It was exhausting, at times playing basically two parts, almost the same time, because the whole, what’s the kind of fun thing is you’re playing somebody who’s a different, almost a different person.
I know I wasn’t used to seeing you so clean-shaven in the flashbacks!
TS: Yeah, but that’s great. I think an audience…I think it’ll be really rewarding in the end, because it will take them on this journey and they’ll suddenly understand. They think they know this person or they have preconceived views of him. In the second season they’re totally blown away.
Earlier in the season we see him trying to regain his status as Captain. How important is that to his identity to be Captain and maybe inform some of what’s going on internally? 
TS: I think it’s enormously important to him. I think it’s also a question of control and I don’t think he can bear anybody else being in control. It’s not some ego thing where he wants to be Captain and he wants people to look up to him. It’s just, “I do not want anybody else, I do not trust anybody else to be in control of my destiny.” It’s not an arrogance, it’s just, “I know they’re not capable of it, and I am the only one here who can really do what needs to be done.”
So is it safe to say we’re going to see more of Flint’s humanity in this part of the story and it may inform what we’re seeing in the present day of the series?
TS: Yeah, I think he is much more human, but not in a kind of a sentimental way. I think it’s painful and it’s complicated and it doesn’t resolve anything. I don’t think you go, “Oh, I get it, now we can move on.” It’s not comfortable, it asks more questions, really, and you feel sad of the direction he ends up having to go in knowing what you know.
Given the past, would you say it’s hard for him to be around Mrs. Barlow because of the memories just her presence brings on?
TS: I think that’s part of it. I think it’s such a complicated and rich relationship. What I like about it is it’s so real in its complexity that he still loves her. He still loves her and she is the only person that really he can confide in and she’s the only person that has any kind of control over him.
Gates, to a certain extent, managed to find a way of dealing with Flint, where they were equals. But after Gates is gone, there is no one. I think Silver is trying to find his way in there somehow, but he can’t get in there. He’s got what the audience gets in the first season, which is the wall is up. He’s trying to get through it, but Flint won’t let him. But [Mrs.] Barlow has that access and there’s an interdependence. It’s very unhealthy and it’s not easy, but they rely on one another, and they love one another. There’s a kind of deep love there, and I find that part real because relationships are like that.
It isn’t always easy, but fundamentally there’s something that locks you in with somebody. And it’s interesting because– I won’t tell you what happens– but that still is kind of being played out in season three [which the cast is currently shooting in South Africa]. Things change massively during the second season.
How would you say you’ve been challenged differently in season two as an actor?
TS: I had to almost play a totally different character in the younger part. The more different he is in the younger version, the more you feel the weight of what he’s become and the tragedy of what he’s become, really, locked into this person. And also, the demands physically on me were much more. There’s nothing else that’s doing this kind of stuff, where you are having to do these intense acting scenes, long scenes, and then you’re having to do these enormous action sequences, which are really demanding as well towards the last end of the season, where things really build. And it was full-on. We were doing these huge, great big sequences that were incredibly elaborate and that was just exhausting. So by the end of the season, I was totally fried but in a great way. I’m not complaining about it because nowhere else would I get this opportunity.
Black Sails airs Saturdays at 9pm on Starz.

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