Tuesday, May 11, 2010

acting straight

I've been reading all the ruckus over Ramin Setoodeh's "Newsweek" article entitled "Straight Jacket", which asserts that, among other things, gay actors cannot convincingly play straight characters.

Setoodeh is remarking on Sean Hayes' performance in the recent revival of the musical "Promises, Promises", contending that Hayes is unbelievable as a straight man, since we all know him to be gay. To make things more complicated, Setoodeh, in a response to the myraid negative posts he has received over this opinion (including a lengthy one from "Promises, Promises" co-star Kristin Chenoweth), has written a follow-up article, revealing that he himself is gay and claims that he "doesn't hate gay people or himself".

I will admit that I haven't seen "Promises, Promises", but I have read both articles and I can safely say one thing about Ramin Setoodeh: He hates himself for being gay, and doesn't even know it.

Sorry. That's a really sad thing to have to say about someone, especially a fellow queer. But there it is, and it's painfully obvious to anyone who might read these articles (who isn't, of course, a freaking homophobe...). What is even more saddening is that this behavior and point of view is so common that it can actually make an appearance in such a reportedly middle of the road magazine like "Newsweek". Frankly, I would expect such behavior from FOX.

If a magical fairy god-mother were to suddenly appear and offer Setoodeh one wish, here is what it would be: "MAKE ME STRAIGHT".

The self-loathing positively drips from his article and rebuttal.

To assert that gay actors cannot play 90% of the population is absolute hogwash and so insulting that it actually boggles the mind. What is even more astounding is his complete ignorance to his own homophobia.

Setoodeh's article will drive more gay actors further into the closet, where his own monsterous, interalized homophobia lurks.

To be fair, Setoodeh states that he wanted to open a conversation, and he raises some valid points: why ARE there so few openly gay actors? Why must all gay characters be played by openly straight actors (ie, "Brokeback Mountain")? This IS wrong. But he places the blame on gay actors not being convincing in straight roles, rather than the fact that our culture is overtly homophobic, and the minute an actor is brave enought to identify themselves as gay, there is a backlash where a majority of Americans begin to pigeon-hole them and place them into a very limited (and limiting) box.

In other words, it is not Sean Hayes who can't play a straight man (and btw, what, exactly does that even MEAN? Are all straight men alike? Is there a way they behave that is too complicated for a gay person to understand? Frankly, this is insulting to gay AND straight people!), it is viewers like Ramin Setoodeh who can't see past their own obsession and homophobic notions of gay people (and that, ultimately, being openly gay - for them- is a bad thing).

Only by coming out and proving that a great actor can play ANYONE do we stop this sort of bullshit.

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