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Old 05-12-2010, 08:58 AM   #1
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This article has caused a stir-now Ryan Murphy(creator of Glee) is calling for a boycott of Newsweek. The guy who wrote the Newsweek article is gay. Is it homophobic and mind blowingly bigoted?

Straight Jacket

Heterosexual actors play gay all the time. Why doesn't it ever work in reverse?
By Ramin Setoodeh | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Apr 26, 2010

The reviews for the Broadway revival of Promises, Promises were negative enough, even though most of the critics ignored the real problem—the big pink elephant in the room. The leading man of this musical-romantic comedy is supposed to be a single advertising peon named Chuck who is madly in love with a co-worker (Kristin Chenoweth). When the play opened on Broadway in 1968, Jerry Orbach, an actor with enough macho swagger to later fuel years and years of Law and Order, was the star. The revival hands the lead over to Sean Hayes, best known as the queeny Jack on Will & Grace. Hayes is among Hollywood's best verbal slapstickers, but his sexual orientation is part of who he is, and also part of his charm. (The fact that he only came out of the closet just before Promises was another one of those Ricky Martin-duh moments.) But frankly, it's weird seeing Hayes play straight. He comes off as wooden and insincere, like he's trying to hide something, which of course he is. Even the play's most hilarious scene, when Chuck tries to pick up a drunk woman at a bar, devolves into unintentional camp. Is it funny because of all the '60s-era one-liners, or because the woman is so drunk (and clueless) that she agrees to go home with a guy we all know is gay?

This is no laughing matter, however. For decades, Hollywood has kept gay actors—Tab Hunter, Van Johnson, Anthony Perkins, Rock Hudson, etc.—in the closet, to their own personal detriment. The fear was, if people knew your sexual orientation, you could never work again. Thankfully, this seems ridiculous in the era of Portia de Rossi and Neil Patrick Harris. But the truth is, openly gay actors still have reason to be scared. While it's OK for straight actors to play gay (as Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger did in Brokeback Mountain), it's rare for someone to pull off the trick in reverse. De Rossi and Harris do that on TV, but they also inhabit broad caricatures, not realistic characters likes the ones in Up in the Air or even The Proposal. Last year, Rupert Everett caused a ruckus when he told the Guardian that gay actors should stay in the closet. "The fact is," he said, "that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the ... film business." Is he just bitter or honest? Maybe both.

Most actors would tell you that the biographical details of their lives are beside the point. Except when they're not. As viewers, we are molded by a society obsessed with dissecting sexuality, starting with the locker-room torture in junior high school. Which is why it's a little hard to know what to make of the latest fabulous player to join Glee: Jonathan Groff, the openly gay Broadway star. In Spring Awakening, he showed us that he was a knockout singer and a heartthrob. But on TV, as the shifty glee captain from another school who steals Rachel's heart, there's something about his performance that feels off. In half his scenes, he scowls—is that a substitute for being straight? When he smiles or giggles, he seems more like your average theater queen, a better romantic match for Kurt than Rachel. It doesn't help that he tried to bed his girlfriend while singing (and writhing to) Madonna's Like a Virgin. He is so distracting, I'm starting to wonder if Groff's character on the show is supposed to be secretly gay.

This is admittedly a complicated issue for the gay community, though it is not, in fact, a uniquely gay problem. In the 1950s, the idea of "color-blind casting" became a reality, and the result is that today there's nothing to stop Denzel Washington from playing the Walter Matthau role in the remake of The Taking of the Pelham 1-2-3. Jack Nicholson, by the force of his charm, makes you forget how he's entirely too old to win Helen Hunt's heart in As Good As It Gets. For gay actors, why should sexual orientation limit a gay actor's choice of roles? The fact is, an actor's background does affect how we see his or her performance—which is why the Tom Hankses and Denzels of the world guard their privacy carefully.

It's not just a problem for someone like Hayes, who even tips off your grandmother's gaydar. For all the beefy bravado that Rock Hudson projects on-screen, Pillow Talk dissolves into a farce when you know the likes of his true bedmates. (Just rewatch the scene where he's wading around in a bubble bath by himself.) Lesbian actresses might have it easier—since straight men think it's OK for them to kiss a girl and like it—but how many of them can you name? Cynthia Nixon was married to a man when she originated Miranda on Sex and the City. Kelly McGillis was straight when she steamed up Top Gun's sheets, and Anne Heche went back to dating men (including her Men in Trees costar). If an actor of the stature of George Clooney came out of the closet tomorrow, would we still accept him as a heterosexual leading man? It's hard to say. Or maybe not. Doesn't it mean something that no openly gay actor like that exists?

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Old 05-12-2010, 08:59 AM   #2
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'Glee' creator Ryan Murphy pushes for 'Newsweek' boycott |

“I would like to join my good friend Kristin Chenoweth on her condemnation of a recent Newsweek article written by Mr. Ramin Setoodeh, in which Setoodeh basically says that out gay actors should go back into the closet and never attempt to play straight characters. This article is as misguided as it is shocking and hurtful. It shocks me because Mr. Setoodeh is himself gay. But what is the most shocking of all is that Newsweek went ahead and published such a blatantly homophobic article in the first place…and has remained silent in the face of ongoing (and justified) criticism. Would the magazine have published an article where the author makes a thesis statement that minority actors should only be allowed and encouraged to play domestics? I think not.

Today, I have asked GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios to stand with me and others and ask for an immediate boycott of Newsweek magazine until an apology is issued to Sean Hayes and other brave out actors who were cruelly singled out in this damaging, needlessly cruel, and mind-blowingly bigoted piece. An apology should also be issued to all gay readers of the magazine…steelworkers, parents, accountants, doctors, etc…proud hardworking Americans who, if this article is to be believed, should only identify themselves as “queeny” people (a word used by Setoodeh in the article) who stand at the back of the bus and embrace an outdated decades old stereotype.

Mr. Setoodeh has recently Twittered that he is a fan of Glee, the show I co-created with Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk…the show on which Mr. Groff plays the straight love interest to Lea Michele, a casting choice embraced by fans and critics alike which Mr. Setoodeh has taken issue with.

I extend an open invitation to Mr. Setoodeh to come to the writers room of our show, and perhaps pay a set visit. Hopefully then he can see how we take care to do a show about inclusiveness…a show that encourages all viewers no matter what their sexual orientation to go after their hopes and dreams and not be pigeonholed by dated and harmful rhetoric…rhetoric he sadly spews and believes in. Hopefully, some of the love we attempt to spread will rub off on Mr. Setoodeh — a gay man deeply in need of some education — and he not only apologizes to those he has deeply offended but pauses before he picks up his poison pen again to work through the issues of his own self loathing. Give me a call, Ramin…I’d love to hear from you. I’ll even give you a free copy of our Madonna CD, on which we cover “Open Your Heart,” a song you should play in your house and car on repeat."


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Old 05-12-2010, 09:19 AM   #3
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Maybe it's just me, but I think they're both wrong.

I think Ryan Murphy is wrong because I don't think Ramin's article was saying that gay actors should stay in the closet and never attempt to play straight roles, I think he was saying that it's still difficult for the majority of the audience to accept them playing straight roles.

But I disagree with Ramin in that I think it is getting a lot better.

I think Ramin's point is that when we know so much about someone's private life it's difficult for us to take them serious when playing a role that doesn't relate to their private life.

Ramin says it's easier for a straight man to play gay, but I'm not sure that's true either, with the only exception of BBM I can't think of any straight actor playing a serious non-charicature gay role.
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Old 05-12-2010, 09:45 AM   #4
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Another article he wrote for Newsweek last year

Kings of Queens

Gays on TV once helped promote tolerance. Now they may be hurting it.

By Ramin Setoodeh | NEWSWEEK

Published Nov 12, 2009

From the magazine issue dated Nov 23, 2009

Even if you've never seen Glee, the Fox dramedy with show tunes in its veins and opera in its nervous system, you probably know that it's TV's gayest product since Richard Simmons. Last week's episode centered on a singing contest of "Defying Gravity," the anticonformity anthem from Wicked, every tween girl's favorite musical. The contestants: Rachel the glee-club diva vs. Kurt the, um—what's the male version of diva? Kurt (Chris Colfer) wears fluffy Alexander McQueen sweaters and sings notes high enough to make your fillings hurt. He can belt Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" and thrust his hips better than Ms. Knowles herself. Yet he can also melt your heart with his fortitude and frankness, especially during his fraught talks with his dad, a mechanic who still remembers when his son wore high heels—as a toddler. That's the thing about Kurt: he can be endearing, but he's also confusing. In one episode, the glee club split into a boys' team and a girls' team. Guess which side Kurt went for? If Kurt were transgendered, all that would make perfect sense, but he's not. Instead, he's that oldest of clichés: the sensitive gay boy who really wants to be a girl.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Really. If the gay community has stood for anything in the 40 years since Stonewall, it's the freedom not just to love who you want but to be who you are: we're here, we're queer, get used to it. For a while, TV got with the program. In 1997, when Ellen DeGeneres came out on her sitcom, she paved the way for gay characters of every stripe. The next year, Dawson’s Creek introduced a studly jock named Jack (Kerr Smith), who became perhaps the first teen to come out in prime time. TV's other Jack (Sean Hayes), from Will & Grace, swung the more flamboyant way, while lawyerly Will (Eric McCormack) could have been just another "Friend." Over time, the image of gay people on TV became less lavender and more gray—as multifaceted as the five men on Queer Eye for the Straight Guyor the ladies of The L Word. By bringing all these diverse folks into America's living rooms, TV helped bring gays into the mainstream. A survey by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation found that of the people who say their feelings toward gays and lesbians had become more favorable in the past five years, about one third credited that in part to characters they saw on TV.

In the past year, however, the public-acceptance pendulum seems to have shifted back, at least for what is arguably the biggest test of equality. Two weeks ago, the people of Maine followed the people of California in reversing existing laws that had legalized gay marriage. In fact, when gay marriage has been put before the voters of any state, it has failed every time. Is TV to blame for this? Of course not. The mission of popular culture is to entertain, not to lecture. But if we accept that Will, Dawson's, and the rest once fostered acceptance, it's fair to ask if Gleemay be hurting it, especially because the Kurt model is everywhere. There's Marc (Michael Urie), the flaming fashion assistant on Ugly Betty; Lloyd (Rex Lee), Ari's sassy receptionist on Entourage; the gay couple on Modern Family (one guy still pines for his ice-skating career; the other wears purple in every episode). The fey way extends to nonfiction, too, from the dozens of squealing contestants on Project Runwayto the two gayest words in the English language: Perez Hilton. Next week American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert's new album, For Your Entertainment, arrives: that's Lambert on the cover, wearing heavy mascara, black nail polish, and perfect lip gloss. Lesbians face a different problem. They are invariably played by gorgeous, curvy women straight out of a straight man's fantasy—Olivia Wilde on House, Sara Ramirez on Grey’s Anatomy, Evan Rachel Wood on True Blood—and they're usually bisexual. How convenient.

Minority groups have long struggled to balance assimilation and extinction, self-expression and alienation. Some African-Americans are complaining that the poor, uneducated girl in Precious perpetuates stereotypes; others say she represents a part of the community and deserves to be celebrated. For gays, that schism falls along generational lines. Older gays who spent their lives fighting for civil rights continue to want to stand out, to argue that acceptance means nothing if it doesn't apply to the most outré members. Younger men and women, for whom society has been more tolerant, think of themselves as "post-gay," meaning their sexual orientation is only a part of who they are. Last month, gay groups held a march on Washington for marriage. The older folks gave speeches. The younger ones seemed more interested in snapping a Facebook picture of Lady Gaga.

The problem with the Glee club is that Kurt and the rest are loud and proud, but their generation has turned down the volume. All this at a time when standing apart seems particularly counterproductive. Marriage (and the military) are sacred institutions, so it's not surprising that some heterosexuals will defend them against what they see as a radical alteration. But if you want to be invited to someone else's party, sometimes you have to dress the part. Is that a form of appeasement? Maybe. It's not that gay men and women should pretend to be straight, or file down all their fabulously spiky edges. But even Rachel Maddow wears lipstick on TV. The key is balance. There's so much more to the gay community than the people on TV (or at a gay-pride parade). We just want a chance to live and love like everybody else. Unfortunately, at the rate we're going, we won't get there until the post-post-gay generation.
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:23 AM   #5
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Kristin Chenoweth also wrote a response to that article.
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