Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Straight to the Spotlight

Jack and I were hanging out at a local Irish sports bar with a few of our straight buddies, drinking cheap beer and watching a basketball game, when someone brought up the subject of Will and Grace. For some reason, straight people seem thoroughly compelled to mention their love of the show in my presence, like some sort of example of their personal commitment to progressive thinking and minority patronization. I always expect them to quote lines from “Roots” and burst into a spiritual.

When asked how I felt about the show, I said that I find the series fairly repugnant. It follows the standard format of a straight actor playing a sanitized, sexless gay character, and a gay actor playing an ├╝ber-flaming slut boy—the traditional Hollywood “gay neighbor”—which gets really tired after awhile, Emmys aside. This segued into a conversation about openly gay actors, which in turn led to a deep discussion of the cinematic career of Anne Hesche.

“I totally didn’t buy her as Harrison Ford’s romantic lead in that one movie,” my friend Darren said. “I mean, we all knew she was dating Ellen. Who was she trying to fool?”

“So basically, no one would really accept a gay actor portraying a straight lead?” I asked.

“No way,” Darren responded. “You’d just keep thinking about how he likes guys in real life, and it would kill the whole thing.”

“So why is it so easy to accept heterosexual Eric McCormick playing a gay character?”

An uncomfortable silence descended onto the table for a brief moment, until someone mentioned that the X-Men movies don’t follow the comic book, and we were off on another beer-fueled debate.

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