Straights Playing Gays In Movies Are Rarely Funny And I’ll Tell You Why
Exhibit A – “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” with Adam Sandler, a film so unfunny that I would think it would be best used as some sort of cinematic torture for terrorists. Now Andy Samberg, also of Saturday Night Live is being featured on Out magazine’s cover for his new film, “I Love You, Man” where he plays gay for the cameras too except he’s assuring us it’s going to be funny this time. I’m going to hope this one is funny (for all our sakes) but most likely it won’t be and there’s a reason, straights playing gays in movies are rarely funny and I’ll tell you why… - Don’t Get Me Started!
Before all the straightees out there start sharpening their pitchforks and lighting torches, allow me to explain. It’s not that I don’t think straight actors can’t be convincing in gay roles (see examples such as Tom Hanks in Philadelphia and Greg Kinnear in As Good As It Gets) but when it comes to comedy they flit more than they hit on anything that is funny for anyone who has ever known someone who is gay. (And let’s face it, more and more people know at least one gay if not fifty of them today.) Truth be told, the gays don’t get it right in movies all that often either.
So why is it so hard to be gay and funny in movies today when it used to be all you had to do was loosen your wrist and let your backbone slip? I think it’s because as more and more regular Joes and Janes come out of the closet, people are discovering that the gay stereotype is an act, something that was “put on” for the reaction of the people around them and not who gays really are when they’re emptying the garbage or just being themselves. I also think (and know from personal experience) that the gay stereotype is an excellent way to provide self-deprecating humor to insulate you from what you think the reaction will be from a crowd of people who don’t know you. Somewhere in your unconscious mind you think the more flamboyant you get the more people won’t pick on you because you’re so obviously gay that where would be the fun in it for the straight asshole that would normally tease or beat you? You make yourself too easy of a mark. (This is not always done with a high level of success and eventually is so exhausting for the gay that it feels as though you’re in a bad stock production of Nicholas Nickelby, which was created in something like four segments where you had to go back two days in a row to see it all and they gave the audience lunch breaks because it was so long)
For me, comedy is usually only funny when it has a trace of truth in it. I had a friend once who always said that when you joke there’s always a little truth in it (as for me, they were right). So when someone is a flouncy gay without any reality base to what they’re doing, they don’t seem funny at all. Or they’re funny for a four minute sketch (see any of the “Men On…” sketches from In Living Color) but to sit and watch it for two hours is exhausting and usually not funny at all.
I know that I thought I had an answer when I started this blog but now having re-read it I discover that I’m not sure that I do (which kills me as I try so desperately to always live up to my self-appointed Gaytriarch title). And maybe these movies ARE funny to some people who think Jerry Springer is the same as Oprah or are uncomfortable with their own sexuality. I don’t know. I just know that on the whole gays are really funny so why it doesn’t translate seems a shame for gays, straights and anyone who wants to go to the movies to laugh.
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An acquired taste, like Tab cola, Some Like It Scott is one gay man's experiences with love, life and things that make him crazy, all done to a musical theatre soundtrack.