No comment (click on image or go to full story at Gateway Pundit):
The online magazine IndieWire has noted something interesting: movies with gay leading characters aren’t doing big box office. In the 90s, movies such as The Birdcage (based on the audience tested La Cage aux Folles), Philadelphia (about the still-headlining catching scourge AIDS), and In & Out (with a pleasing Kevin Kline as a gay teacher trying to hide in the closet) were big sellers. In the first decade of the 21st century, the numbers went even higher with Brokeback Mountain (surely one of the most demoralizing movies about gays ever made), which grossed over $80 million in 2005. Other gay-themed movies didn’t do as well in that decade (topping out in the $60 million range with Sacha Baron Cohen’s gross-out Bruno), but they were still bringing at least $30 million each.
In the last few years, though, gay themed movies (that is, movies with the main protagonists being gay), have failed to bring in the big money. IndieWire assembles the numbers:
Top Grossing Films With Lead LGBT Character (2010-present)
1. The Kids Are All Right (2010) – $20,811,365
2. I Love You, Phillip Morris (2010) – $2,037,459
3. Farewell My Queen (2012) – $1,347,990
4. I’m So Excited (2013) – $1,216,168
5. La Mission (2010) – $1,062,941
Even the highest grossing of the bunch couldn’t match the lowest grossing gay-themed movie from a decade earlier, well the remaining ones couldn’t even get into the high single digits (when counting by millions). So what happened? IndieWire offers five theories, only the fifth of which I’ll quote in its entirety:
1. There’s just not as much of a need for these films anymore. [snip]
2. There are less LGBT films being made, so there will clearly be less of them grossing $1 million. [snip]
3. There are less marketable LGBT films being made. [snip]
4. All the good LGBT representation is on TV. [snip]
5. The market has simply changed. Here’s where the most significant answer lies, and it very much encompasses the last 4 explanations as well. The economic world of film is vastly different in 2013 than it was in 1993 or 2003. Back in the 1990s, studios were making the kind of mid-budget films in which “Philadelphia,” “In & Out, “The Birdcage” and “To Wong Foo” encompass. Then in the 2000s when studios all had started specialty divisions (like Universal’s Focus Features and Fox’s Fox Searchlight), LGBT content seemed to be delegated there with smaller budgets (like with “Brokeback Mountain,” “Kinsey,” “Milk,” and “Capote”). Nowadays, even those kind of $15-$20 million budgeted LGBT films are rare.
I think that the “market has changed” theory is on the right track, but it’s too narrow an analysis. The problem for blockbuster gay-themed movies isn’t just the “type” of movies being made (i.e., big budget versus small, art film versus action, etc.). It seems to me the audience just isn’t that interested anymore. Depending on which statistics you believe, a generous count is that the entire LGBT spectrum, from “L” all the way through “T” makes up at most 10% of the population. Straight women who want romances or rom-coms aren’t going to want to see gays or lesbians as the main characters. Straight men who want action movies aren’t going to be interested in anything but a macho lead, because the little boy part of each men still thinks that, under the right circumstances, he too can be that hero. Teen boys through to young men in their early 20s, who seem to be homophobic no matter how gay-friendly and supportive their community is, will watch gay stuff only in the context of gross-out sex and feces jokes, a la Bruno.
The gay-themed movies of the past had broad audience reach for reasons very specific to those movies: Some, like Philadelphia spoke to very big issues with which society was struggling. Others, like The Birdcage and In & Out, had brilliant (and, I might add, straight) comedic actors with great scripts that happened to tap into a time when audiences still got a sort of thrill from being hip enough to watch a gay-themed movie. Brokeback Mountain? Great acting and a serious plot about pathetic human beings. That’s got to appeal to the nation’s “elite” movie-goers. Also, it was a sufficiently serious movie that people who would normally only be willing to watch gays in a comedic context could contemplate the spectacle of watching R-rated gay sex in a movie theater without any laugh lines. (Incidentally, effeminate comic figures have been in Hollywood movies since the dawn of talkies; other than that, they stayed discretely locked away, both on screen and off.)
But now, for the majority of straight Americans, the thrill is gone. Gays are indeed ubiquitous on TV. They’re also pushing to the forefront of the media everywhere, in numbers disproportionate to their representation in the American population. The vast number of Americans are not homophobic, even if they don’t want the ancient institution of marriage extended to gays. And as for gay marriage, increasing numbers of Americans support that too.
We no longer see gays as stock comic figures. We no longer see gays as tragic martyrs to disease. We no longer see gays as closeted victims. We no longer see gay images in movies as titillating. And, assuming we’re heterosexual, we don’t see them as acceptable lead characters in romances, rom-cons, action movies, or teen flicks. That leaves a very, very small market for movies with gay leading characters.
In other words, now that straights have run out of reasons to see gay movies just because they’re gay, it turns out that gays might not be as interesting as they think they are. A gay movie has to offer entertainment on its on terms without preaching at audiences. And gays probably want to make movies that aren’t demeaning to them — which I think Bruno (staring the straight Baron Cohen) was, insofar as it presented gay sexual behaviors as grotesque, disgusting, and perverse.
Until a gay-charactered movie has crossover appeal, offering a solid product that appeals to Americans’ cravings for comedy, romance, action, or serious stuff (which, insofar as gays goes, has mostly been done), I supect gay-themed movies will continue to languish economically.
I mentioned in an earlier post the interesting fact that, on my Facebook page, it is my straight friends, not my gay friends, who are the most enthusiastic supporters of gay marriage. This is not to say that my gay friends are slacking in their support. They just lack the enthusiasm. For every one pro-gay marriage Facebook post from a gay friend, there seem to be two from a straight friend. As I said, I find this enthusiasm a little surprising. Usually, when people don’t have a dog in the fight, while they may be passively interested in the outcome, they don’t normally become actively engaged in promoting the fight.
While I was mulling this curiosity over in my mind, one of my Facebook friends (a straight one, of course) posted this image:
That sentiment is true, of course, but it also obscures the difference between supporting gay rights and animals rights. Animals can’t speak for themselves. If we don’t act as their spokesmen, no one will speak on their behalf. The same is not true for members of the LGBT community.
Help me out here, please. I am not seeking comments about the validity of the various causes within the gay rights movement. Instead, I’m just wondering (a) why members of the LGBT movement are now being analogized to mute animals and (b) why the fever is higher in the audience (so to speak) than amongst the players themselves.
Cassie Jay is a young woman who makes unabashedly Leftist films. Back, in 2010, she made a documentary called “Daddy I Do” that attacked abstinence-only education. Even in liberal Marin, this movie caused a bit of a kerfuffle, as the local art cinema first agreed to show it, then backed off from that agreement, and then, when the liberal fit hit the media shan, finally agreed to show the movie. The debate garnered headlines, and undoubtedly drew more people to the movie than would otherwise have attended. My bet is that, at the end, a lot of people paid for tickets, not because they actually wanted to see her movie, but because they wanted to show solidarity.
Ms. Jay now contends that she’s stumbled into cultural clash, and she didn’t see this one coming at all. On its face, Jay’s newest movie ought not to have ruffled any feathers on the Left. It’s a straight down-the-line Progressive encomium for the virtues of gay marriage. The Marin Independent Journal assures readers that her latest, “The Right to Love: An American Family,” is “a compelling case for legalizing gay marriage.” Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I haven’t seen it yet — indeed, few have — so I’m not qualified to comment.
Jay claims, however, that there are those in the gay community who have seen it and they are very unhappy with the movie. You see, in addition to promoting gay marriage, which is a good thing, the gay activists watching the preview discerned a Christian subtext, which is a very bad thing indeed:
“The Right to Love,” which premieres Monday at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, focuses on the Leffew family of Santa Rosa, a legally married gay couple and their two adopted children. When the trailer was released this past fall, it included a scene of the family saying a Christian prayer at their breakfast table.
The reaction it unleashed from a segment of the gay community was angry and venomous, and caught Jaye off guard.
“It just erupted online,” she recalled. “It totally caught me by surprise. I was shocked by the backlash. All these LGBT (lesbian-gay-bixexual-transgender) people were attacking the Leffew family for being religious, saying, ‘How can you be a part of an institution that doesn’t see us as equals and thinks we’re an abomination? How can you be a member of that club?’ I never intended to include that prayer as a controversial issue, but there was a lot of hatred toward them being Christian.”
Here’s the incendiary trailer (the prayer shows up 38 seconds in):
As for me, I think this is a publicity stunt. I scrolled through the 280 comments at the trailer and found a few comments to the effect that “religions should let us marry and they’re bad ’cause they don’t” stuff, but I don’t see any evidence of the firestorm Jay claims erupted over her film — more specifically, that she claims erupted because of that two second prayer scene in the trailer. Unless Jay deleted all the hardcore anti-Christian comments as spam, they’re just not there. I also did a couple of Google searches for the name of the film along with the words “Christian” and “religion” but, aside from several dozen sites singing rapturous praises about a pro-gay marriage movie, found only a few newspaper articles quoting Jay about the claimed firestorm.
I’m willing to acknowledge that my research skills may be abysmal, and that I’ve managed to miss the dozens of comments and posts in which activist gays threaten to burn crosses on the lawns of those gay families who are stupid enough to cling to Christianity. I may also have a different idea of Jay as to what constitutes a truly controversial issue. She may think one crackpot makes a controversy. I don’t.
What’s rather amazing, though, is that Jay is promoting her film by pointing to a subject that has nothing to do with the film itself. The film is about gay marriage. There is a built-in audience for this movie. Gays will see it. Elites who want to prove their moral superiority on the issue will see it. But Jay is promoting it, not by pointing to its substantive issues, but by talking up the fact that (according to her) many in the GLBT (or LGBT or whatever other order the letters should appear) community are no longer asking for religion to change. Instead, they’re attacking religion at the root. For her, this is a selling point.
Jay’s right, too, in her assessment that, in Obama-world, attacking religion is a selling point for any movie that one markets to the Left. The Obama administration’s direct, frontal attack on the Catholic church (and other religious institutions) demonstrates as nothing else could that the Left, now that it holds two out of the three seats of power in American government, intends not to amend religion, or carve out secular exceptions, but to destroy it entirely. Under the new ObamaCare mandate, the churches are left with only three choices all of which range from damaging to destructive: they can deny their principles and provide insurance, which destroys them morally; they can refuse to provide the insurance, which will trigger penalties or lose them so many employees they’ll be destroyed financially; or they can simply shut down their outreach, which destroys their place in their community and the missions that are an intrinsic part of their doctrine.
My guess is that Jay is astutely tuning into a strong cultural subtext roiling the Left in order to market her film. Even if there is no fight between gay activists and religion, there ought to be, and she’s going to use that paradigm to broaden her audience beyond the Prop. 8 crowd. She can expect to see attendance increase as those on the Left attend the film, either to show their solidarity with religion (Christ’s gospel is good, even if the church has perverted it) or to protest the fact that anyone in the LGBT (or GLBT) community would dare to ally itself with a hate-filled, archaic institution that should be destroyed, rather than reformed.
I think the saying is that, in show business, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
What do you think?
I’ve now received five emails bringing to my attention a post at Hillbuzz, a blog that (as best as I can tell) is written by two gay Hillary supporters. (And thanks to all of you who did bring it to my attention.) What makes the post at Hillbuzz so unusual is that it’s a frank appreciation for . . . George Bush:
We know absolutely no one in Bush family circles and have never met former President George W. Bush or his wife Laura.
If you have been reading us for any length of time, you know that we used to make fun of “Dubya” nearly every day…parroting the same comedic bits we heard in our Democrat circles, where Bush is still, to this day, lampooned as a chimp, a bumbling idiot, and a poor, clumsy public speaker.
Oh, how we RAILED against Bush in 2000…and how we RAILED against the surge in support Bush received post-9/11 when he went to Ground Zero and stood there with his bullhorn in the ruins on that hideous day.
We were convinced that ANYONE who was president would have done what Bush did, and would have set that right tone of leadership in the wake of that disaster. President Gore, President Perot, President Nader, you name it. ANYONE, we assumed, would have filled that role perfectly.
Well, we told you before how much the current president, Dr. Utopia, made us realize just how wrong we were about Bush. We shudder to think what Dr. Utopia would have done post-9/11. He would have not gone there with a bullhorn and struck that right tone. More likely than not, he would have been his usual fey, apologetic self and waxed professorially about how evil America is and how justified Muslims are for attacking us, with a sidebar on how good the attacks were because they would humble us.
Honestly, we don’t think President Gore would have been much better that day. The world needed George W. Bush, his bullhorn, and his indominable spirit that day…and we will forever be grateful to this man for that.
As we will always be grateful for what George and Laura Bush did this week, with no media attention, when they very quietly went to Ft. Hood and met personally with the families of the victims of this terrorist attack.
Please read the rest here. It’s an excellent post and deserves the attention it’s getting for the honest take it has on George Bush’s solid decency — and the contrast between his low-key, virtuous behavior and that exhibited by the Obami.
Hillbuzz’s post is a reminder that the very loud, politicized gay class tends to make us forget that most gays are just Americans who happen to like people of the same sex. When things are rosy, they’re happy to trail behind the political guys, since there might be some benefits dropping off that bandwagon. However, when push comes to shove, and when agitating but scarcely life threatening issues go by the wayside, America’s gays are Americans first — or, at least, most of them are. That’s very heartening.
I look forward to the day when America’s Muslims figure out that, at some point they have to make a public stand between America’s deep investment in liberty and Islam’s demand that all citizens in all nations should be subjugated to Sharia’s draconian requirements. Right now, thanks to the politically correct ideology that permeates the media, the government, educational establishes, and the top echelons of the military, American Muslims are getting a pass on having to come to terms with their own patriotism. If they want to hew to their religion — well, that’s the moral choice they have to make, but we Americans should know, so that we can do what is necessary to protect our Constitutional rights for the vast majority of Americans (gay and straight, Catholic and Jewish, atheist and, yes, Muslim) who believe in those rights.