Oscar: The Grouch

I thought for sure Felicity Huffman and Heath Ledger were going to win last night. My only Oscar predictions that came true were that Jake Gyllenhaal would not win Best Supporting Actor and that Brokeback Mountain would win either Best Picture or Best Director but not both.

It was supposed to be a great year for the Gay Film, right? No one can deny that the nominations of Huffman, Ledger, Gyllenhaal, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ang Lee and Brokeback Mountain are important. It’s excellent company. But as selfish filmgoers, we want wins, of course.

I didn’t see Walk the Line, so I don’t know anything about Reese Witherspoon’s performance. She gave a great acceptance speech. And I loved her in Legally Blonde. So, OK… Give her the Oscar. (That’s a joke, btw.) Sorry, Felicity. Go home and polish your Emmy. But take heart: A lot of Desperate Housewives watchers — from cities without art-house theaters — probably would never have known you played a transsexual if not for the Oscar broadcast.

I didn’t see Capote, but Hoffman is amazing in everything he does, so it’s entirely possible that he deserved the Best Actor win as much as Ledger. I’m similarly disappointed, but it’s still a gay role — albeit I think a more “standard,” less provocative, less interesting and safer gay role. So… chalk one up, I guess, eh?

And even though I didn’t expect Brokeback to get Best Picture after Ang Lee won Best Director, I still can’t believe that Crash won! OK, the “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” win was kinda cool — even though a second Oscar loss for Dolly Parton tears at the fabric of my gay soul. But Best Picture? Considering what it was up against? I can’t fathom how they pulled that one off. Crash was a good movie. I like the questions it raised. But it was obvious, too full of coincidence, and a little overbearing.

It’s almost like the Academy wanted to throw a bone to all the nominated films — no film goes home empty-handed! And as a result, the wins don’t seem quite so golden.

Maybe it’s not such a surprise that the gay-themed work didn’t sweep. There are other good movies in the world. But what the hell is this quotation in an Associated Press article from an Exodus International goon supposed to mean?

“I think America sent a message to those in the industry that this isn’t something that they’re interested in, and hopefully this was something that weighed heavily on them as they voted for these pictures,” said Alan Chambers, president of Orlando, Fla.-based Exodus International, a Christian organization that promotes “freedom from homosexuality.”

First of all, I object to his inclusion in the article as a balance to GLAAD. They are not equal and opposite. Maybe if there were a group that was out there to turn straights into gays, this Chambers would have something to say worth listening to. But to set someone who wants to convert gay people into straight people against someone who merely wants to make sure gays are treated fairly in the media is idiocy.

Besides that, though, “America sent a message”? What a dumbass. America doesn’t vote for the Oscars. America went to the movies in hordes and droves and ate these movies up. And what kind of message does he suppose “America” sent with the gay nominations in the first place? Oh yeah … Clearly a lack of interest.

I read another article that cited the show’s “gay cowboy” montage as being in poor taste, which also bothered me.

If the insinuation of being gay were an insult, i.e., a bad thing, of course it would be bad taste. The trouble is, it’s not. The comment stands in sharp contrast to the opening sequence where John Stewart wakes up in bed with a grinning George Clooney, which was hilarious. It’s OK to insinuate a same-sex attraction in John Stewart but not in John Wayne? When it’s clearly a joke? What is this double standard? Again, the cowboy — honestly, a minuscule piece of American identity — is held up as some gold standard of masculinity. The writer shows that he clearly didn’t get the joke — or the significance of Brokeback Mountain.

Unless these “real men” can roll with the joke, until they can realize that their masculinity, their lifestyle and their image (certainly their marriage) are not being threatened, I will not believe that they are real men at all.

Brokeback or “the gays” didn’t need to sweep last night. But it would have been nice. It would have been fun. Truly, I don’t like it when one movie wins everything. It seems myopic, lazy, unimaginative. And the Oscars don’t need to score points for the Gay Rights movement. And even if they did, I’m not sure it would really be speaking to the core of middle-American thought. Far more important, I think, is the work that was done to bring these roles and these films closer to the mainstream. Far more important is the nomination, the attention and the discussion.

And, of course, the image of John Stewart waking up in bed next to George Clooney.


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