K Marx
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K Marx The Spot

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17 May 2010

News, Weak

Word comes that the Washington Post Company is trying to find a buyer for Newsweek, because it has been losing "tens of millions" of dollars annually.

I know one way to save money! Make some cuts, and fast, on that Newsweek.com web site!

A recent Newsweek "web exclusive" had the brilliant Ramin Setoodeh explain that

[F]rankly, it's weird seeing [Sean] Hayes play straight. He comes off as wooden and insincere, like he's trying to hide something, which of course he is....

For decades, Hollywood has kept gay actors—Tab Hunter, Van Johnson, Anthony Perkins, Rock Hudson, etc.#8212;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.

This is arrant nonsense. Rare? The idea that gay or lesbian actors cannot play straight roles is absurd. I do not pretend to be completely up on popular culture, but I do not remember John Gielgud playing gay role after gay role, or Lily Tomlin playing only lesbian roles, or Ian McKellen flopping when he played straight roles, or Derek Jacobi seeming like he was hiding something about himself, or Richard Chamberlain being wooden and insincere. Just because Sean Hayes is undistinguished hardly proves anything.

The truth is that actors and actresses stay in the closet because there are a lot of bigots out there. Some are in show business and don't want to hire gays or lesbians. Others are the garden-variety bigots who view gays and lesbians as somehow subhuman—coming out of the closet means that one and one's partner are out of the closet in real life, and that is not always easy or safe or even possible.

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Posted by Tim W at 5/17/2010 01:06:00 AM

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