Thursday, September 13, 2007

Homophobia here, homophobia there

I woke up today with two instances of homophobia in my inbox. First up is Ja Rule. On September 25th, there will be a U.S. Congressional hearing on hip-hop lyrics (full story here).And boy does Ja (or is that Rule?) think Congress has got the focus wrong:

"There's a f--king black kid right now about to get
25 years for having a fight with some white kids over hanging the
nooses over the white tree, let's get to that. Let's get into sh-t like
that, because that's what's tearing up America, not me calling a woman
a b--ch or a h-e on my rap songs."

"And if it is, then we need to go step to Paramount, and f--king MGM,
and all of these other motherf--kers that's making all of these movies
and we need to go step to MTV and Viacom, and lets talk about all these
f--king shows that they have on MTV that is promoting homosexuality,
that my kids can't watch this sh-t," he continued. "Dating shows that's
showing two guys or two girls in mid-afternoon. Let's talk about s--t
like that! If that's not f--king up America, I don't know what is."

Rule (feels more appropriately fascistic than the spiritual-sounding "Ja") told this to the not-ironically-entitled Complex magazine which, in case you've been lucky enough to avoid it, is stuffed with pull quotes, charticles, and pages of "Promotions" (what happened to "Special Advertising Section?"). It's yet another rag bringing us closer to a Fahrenheit 451 reality and as such appeals to the bullying side of our natures, the side that would take Rule's phobic spew as wisdom. I wonder if he would've spewed the same shit for Rolling Stone.

Eh, probably. But it's the "and if it is" that gives his bullshit away. So if MTV stopped, um, promoting homosexuality, Rule, does that mean you'd stop calling women bitches and hoes and work to eradicate such sentiments from all hip-hop? And while we're at it, do you let your kids listen to that kind of hip-hop? Or, to put it in your words, can they listen to it?

Here's hoping we meet in the cutouts bins next time.

Then here's a great review by Mark Harris of the not-awaited DVD release of Cruising. In case you're Complex, I've taken the liberty of pulling some choice quotes:

The film literally darkens as Steve abandons the sunsplashed, airy apartment of his girlfriend Nancy (Karen Allen) to descend into a nightcrawler's realm of facemasks and jockstraps, color-coded hankies and poppers, handcuffs and ominously greased-up fists and forearms, all displayed amid an angry, scratchy-industrial musical thrum. (There's no sissyboy disco for the badass, stone-faced thrillseekers in these gay armies of the night.)

In no time flat, Steve has become one of the undead, drained of color, life and expression. ''Why don't you want me anymore?'' asks Nancy. ''Nance, what I'm doing is affecting me,'' replies the newly bitten zombie.

there's barely a daylight gay world in the movie at all.

As for the murderers, one turns out to be a gay Columbia musical-theater major whose daddy didn't love him enough (did you just hear ten bowling pins crash in the alley of cultural stereotypes?)

Pacino, looking every one of his 39 years in an unfortunate scoop-necked black sleeveless T-shirt and a mutating perm that's as frightening as anything in the script, seems wildly uncomfortable as a cop meant to be a hot piece of sexbait in his late twenties.

Lee also doubts that anyone viewing the movie in 1980 would ''automatically equate'' the world of the film with ''gay culture at large.'' Fair enough, but in that case, count me among the duped: In 1980, I was a years-from-coming-out 16-year-old growing up in New York City, and Cruising scared the crap out of me. In fairness to Cruising, it wasn't conceived in order to make me comfortable; in fairness to me, there wasn't exactly a multiplex full of gay-friendly options back then.

Cruising's second gasp of life can't help but call to mind the thousands of gay men who protested the film — not a single one of whom, remarkably, is allowed to speak for himself on the DVD. (One of the grass-roots leaders of the protests, Ethan Geto, is now Hillary Clinton's senior policy adviser on LGBT issues.)

If the film, now frozen in its historical moment, scarcely seems worth the anger it generated, that's only because we've come a long way, not because anybody judging the movie got it wrong the first time.

Cruising's technical adviser Sonny Grosso claims, somewhat incredibly, that he had ''never seen ferociousness'' like that expressed by the film's picketers (really? This from the NYPD detective on whose life The French Connection was based?) If that's true, bravo to the haters.


Now all we need is a formalist appreciation of Friedkin's emancipatory use of space of texture.


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