In a year where millions of dollars (and a couple of careers) were made telling stories about queers, don't you think a few more people could have said the word "gay?" I know "lesbian" is scary, but gay? Happy's not scary... For a show that celebrated "tolerance" with so many ham-fisted, self-congratulatory blurbs, how this happen? (gay cowboys montage was decidedly tepid) And how much of Dolly Parton's body is actually made of flesh?
Philip Seymour Hoffman won best actor for playing gay... and thanked his mom. Queers were invisible (yeah a sound guy thanked his "life partner" but that tame, tame coded language isn't good enough anymore) or crammed into ill-fitting dresses (I'm talking to you Latifa). How many closet cases were there working the Tab Hunter shtick?
George Clooney broke the veil of public relations every so politely and said a few worlds about his pride in being out of touch with mainstream America, which was nice. He then resurrecting the AIDS shout out (I don't think AIDS is a particularly apt codeword for queers now that it's killing millions of heterosexuals in the developing world) which made for a wet noodle of a political rant.
Speaking of AIDS code, I'll thank the academy for their "tolerance" montage that kindly threw "come out" in the race, race, race tolerance mix, but then bait-and-switched another AIDS reference. (Yes, I'm happy to see race discussed so openly, but Guess Who's Coming to Dinner was made almost 40 years ago. This is no longer news) No, Philadelphia was not a ground breaking gay movie, because they killed the fag off in the end for the crime of anonymous gay sex. Gave me quite a complex to learn that gay men have to die for their sex. (though wow, it really did motivate me towards safer sex).
Why expect more? Because they tricked me. All these queer movies - where the queers were either human (Brokeback) or the queerness was merely incidental (Capote) - they tricked me. From the Oscar broadcast alone, you could be forgiven for thinking it were 1976. This group of people was supposedly honoring some great post-proud, certainly out subject matter, yet they couldn't lean away from queerness more.
It was fear that did this. Fear of the phantom homophobe zeitgeist. A fear of a spun reality, where the man at the controls (who knows better) is aiming to please a target he's got wrong - he thinks America is more homophobic than it is because of a very loud, politically engaged (and frighteningly successful) minority - bigots. Brokeback demonstrated that there are plenty of Americans who are quite ready to deal with queerness. Even Dolly's preaching real tolerance (though I'm not sure how Jesus helps trans folks while they're travelin' thu anywhere...). At the very least I would have expected the man to learn a lesson from these movies he's acknowledging.
Instead Crash won best picture for it's deeply superficial, audience-bludgeoning message of tolerance. I'm not mad that Brokeback didn't win best picture. I'm sure there was another film made this year that was better. Crash wasn't. It was just safer - watered down - and safely preachy. It embodied "political correctness." Everyone's the same, we're all prejudiced, it's ok. We just need to be nicer. Well, no. Other films actually broke down those prejudices and demonstrated how they work. They showed crapped on people as human and sympathetic. And that was transcendent. That was worthy of accolade.
I've learned a lesson though - one not so unintended. Reduced expectations. Homos in the back - quiet and don't fuss. Sorry for the melodrama - next time I'll read a book instead.