Sunday, November 23, 2008

Two Straight Guys Sorta Talk About Gay Movies

My Pacino cop of choice -- one who doesn't kill gay people.

I threw in the "sorta" because, let's be honest, a lot of this brief interview Salon's Andrew O'Hehir conducted with Boys in the Band director William Friedkin is simply O'Hehir (also known as O'Hewho, because Stephanie Zacharek is the only Salon critic anyone reads now that Charles Taylor is gone) kissing Friedkin's ass.

O'Hehir, I'll admit, lost me before the interview even started, when he referred to Cruising, Friedkin's second cinematic run-in with the gays, as a "powerful, intriguing and unfairly demonized picture." Once he gets going with Friedkin, he adds, "Cruising is also out on DVD now, and also ripe for reappraisal."

Except for the part where there's nothing to reappraise. Cruising, which presents gayness as a deadly virus that is sexually transmitted from one cock-crazed leather enthusiast to another (Ed Gonzalez called it "an AIDS metaphor
ahead of its time, except in this heterosexual fantasy of the gay world, every gay man gets it"), is a movie that only Fred Phelps and Pat Robertson could love.

That Friedkin is a skilled director does not make Cruising any less vile now than it was 28 years ago, and to call it unfairly demonized
is a bit like suggesting that Gordon Willis's Windows -- the one about the psychotic lesbian who, lacking a penis of her own, hires a man to rape the woman she's obsessed with -- was misunderstood and deserves a second, more open-minded look. As the gay critic David Ehrenstein opined in a 1995 article about Cruising: "This is a horror film. And we are the monster." Time has not, and cannot, change that.

Now, had O'Hehir called Jade unfairly maligned and questioned whether it might be a classic on par with The French Connection and The Exorcist, that would've been a whole different kettle of fish...

(See how crazy that sounds?)

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