Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

23 February 2010

Gay Theatre

My friend Ryan sent me this article by Patrick Healy on gay theatre in the New York Times.

Ryan's response was: This article bothered me. It made me miss the 90s.

We had a brief conversation about the article, which veered into a discussion of Tony Kushner's seminal play Angels in America (which Ryan is currently directing) that I thought I would post, figuring that perhaps some of you have thoughts on gay theatre as well:

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Aaron: I think this is a particularly USAmerican point of view. In other words, in the United States small stories have always been more important than big ones. Angels in America has always been special among these because it takes the long view of history and set the United States in a global context. But even plays like Boys in the Band or Lisbon Traviata are really small stories about relationships more than they are anything else. These plays that don't really ask us to live in a new way but are more interested in us making a small shift or questioning something about our middle-class lives don't interest me at all.

I do think that The Pride is an exception--it is a play about history (and a smart one at that). And it seems to me that a play like Yank! is also a play about history. But if you ask me, I think you are right. I am way more interested in activism and making big changes than parsing the domestic issues of already reasonably happy (male) gay couples. I mean, who cares? That's so boring! Now In the Heart of America: there's a play about gay people in the military. But it also considers something much more important: why we are over in Iraq in the first fucking place. For me, issues of queerness are only interesting as a part of or in the context of larger questions of history. This may seem a little strident, but whether or not Dan Choi is allowed to serve in the National Guard is so much less important than how many Iraqi civilians died today.

So, yes, this article made me miss the 1990s too.

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Ryan: I agree with you. I think this heteronormative construct is very scary and weird. What happened to activist theatre? I like what you are saying about Angels. It seems to take this global perspective while telling a very human story and in many ways very realistic story... Louis leaves Prior.... he tries to return and Prior ultimately reject him. No Tidy Ending (did I really just bust Fierstein into the conversation?). As I work on Angels, I continue to be amazed at how non-hetero it is in a positive way. It deconstructs (yes, I busted that word out... I’m probably using it wrong) a “romantic” narrative in a homo way.

Anyway, perhaps I’m “raving.” I’m just in love with the play.

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Anyone else have any thoughts on the Times piece?

20 February 2010

When Relationships Don't Work Out

Aaron: Well, I guess I dodged a bullet with this one.
Joel: I think you did.
Aaron: Yeah.
Joel: Well, actually I think you dove in front of the bullet and then it missed, but still.
Aaron: Touché.

18 February 2010

When Friends Can't Keep It in Their Pants

Mark: I don't even know how I survived last year.
Aaron: Me either. Last year must've been seriously painful for you. You've been the whore of Babylon this year.
Mark: Well, you know what they say: 25, Keep the whore alive.
Aaron: Haha. 2010, Give me some men.

16 February 2010

2009 In Review

LOVED
~ ~
1. The Hurt Locker
2. District 9
3. A Single Man
4. Sugar
5. Precious
6. Avatar
7. Fantastic Mr. Fox
8. The Messenger
9. Up in the Air
10. Gomorrah
11. Summer Hours
12. Coraline
13. An Education
14. In the Loop
15. The Princess and the Frog

REALLY LIKED
~ ~
16. Julie & Julia
17. The Baader Meinhof Complex
18. Inglourious Basterds
19. It's Complicated
20. The White Ribbon
21. Bright Star
22. Up
23. (500) Days of Summer
24. The Road
25. 12
Il Divo: the Spectacular Life of Giulio Andreotti

LIKED
~ ~
Crazy Heart
Star Trek
Chéri
17 Again
The Secret of Kells
The Last Station
Revanche
The Blind Side
Departures
Adoration

Broken Embraces
The Country Teacher
Ponyo
Where the Wild Things Are
The Hangover

LIKED MORE THAN I DISLIKED
~ ~
X-men Origins: Wolverine
Sherlock Holmes
Coco before Chanel
Me and Orson Welles
The Brothers Bloom
Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince


BARELY LIKED MORE THAN I DISLIKED
~ ~
Nine
Invictus
Brüno
The Informant!


DISLIKED
~ ~
A Serious Man
The New Twenty
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Katyń
The Young Victoria
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Funny People


HATED
~ ~

COMPLETE AND TOTAL WASTE OF TIME
~ ~
The Lovely Bones
Paris 36


On Psychics and Seeing the Future

Said this to Kevin about three months ago. He's had it on his facebook wall since then. Not sure how wise it is, but it is how I feel.

Aaron: Hope doesn't always fulfill its promises; the future rarely falls out the way I see it in my head. But it doesn't matter, really. We must always choose hope. There is no point in living without it.

11 February 2010

When You Casually Abuse Your Friends

Scott: Why are you hitting me?
Aaron: Um, I am trying to re-establish my masculinity...?
Scott: You know, there are other ways of doing that. I mean, you could call Meghan a slut or a whore or something.
Meghan: ... Hey!

05 February 2010

Blind Sides

I found The Blind Side rather charming. I was ready to hate it—The Blind Side is, after all, recycled neoliberal Hollywood treacle about a good white family who helps a good black boy achieve his dreams—but I found the film hard to hate.

This mostly has to do with Sandra Bullock. I have never been a fan, but she is truly a delight in the film, and I won't feel the least bit bad if she wins the Oscar this year. The performance reminds me of Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich more than anything else. It's the performance of a star at the top of her game who doesn't really need to work very hard to carry a film anymore, but who is willing to do so and has become so good at carrying films that she makes it look easy (sort of like, say, Brad Pitt in Oceans Eleven).

My favorite performance in the movie, I should say, is Adriane Lenox. She plays the young boy's mother and has a single scene that she simply tears up. It is a fierce, heartbreaking little performance that I found devastating and brilliant.

Let's be clear, though, The Blind Side mobilizes the same, tired, racist ideas that we have come to expect from a Hollywood movie. So the film makes it really clear that there are "bad" black people, who live in the projects, do a lot of crack, have children out of "wedlock" (people still actually use that word--at least in the film), drink forties and carry guns. Mostly, though, the "bad" black people don't do anything; that is, they are not trying to do anything to get out of the projects. Contrasting those "bad" black people are the "good" black people (there are only a couple of those in The Blind Side) who are protective of white people, non-violent, shy, grateful, and sensitive.
There are "bad" white people and "good" white people, too. The film shows us people who are overtly anti-black, and these "bad" white people are chastised by the "good" white people at the film's center. We need the "bad" white people, of course, so that we are very clear as to what white racism looks like. (Turns out, it looks like snobby rich white bitches or bearded uneducated country folk.) Racism in the film is represented by these two groups of people. Or rather, these groups of people are described clearly as racist groups so that we can understand better that the film's central characters do not have racist ideas.

The Blind Side, then, isn't exactly harmless entertainment, but it is a charming little fairy tale, and the film's central performance is delightful and spunky.