Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wait for it...

Can you spot the gay one?

Apparently Ramin Setoodeh, critic for the Third Reich's most popular  weekly magazine, Newsweek, can spot a homo from the back row of the theater.  Mr. Setoodeh, himself a gay man (but apparently not one dealing very well with that fact), wrote a homophobic piece of drivel in Newsweek's pages this past week claiming that gay actors (or at least the ones he knows about) could not convincingly play straight characters.  It was hard for me to understand exactly what Herr Setoodeh's point was, but it seemed more along the lines of "I can't get it out of my head that so and so is a homo when they are acting, because I'm really hung up on sexuality," rather than "So and so's homosexuality is actually coloring his or her performance."   So it actually seemed as if Newsweek were allowing their resident self loathing weasel the opportunity to broadcast his neurosis (or perhaps psychosis), as opposed to their actually believing they were publishing a serious critique of a real phenomenon. 

But I'm having all kinds of fun critiquing Der Newschweek and their cynical, calculated, poorly reasoned homophobia, and you can join me after the break.  Just click 'read more' below.

It was rather interesting that Obersturmfuhrer Setoodeh choose to completely blow off the known homosexual in the picture above.  Perhaps the most famous example of a gay man playing a lady chaser comes courtesy of one Barney Stinson, played by Neil Patrick Harris, a character so indelible and authentic that Setoodeh felt the need to dismiss Harris' performance as a "broad caricature, not realistic characters likes the ones in Up in the Air or even The Proposal."

Let's ignore the fact that Grand Imperial Wizard Setoodeh trashed any and all critical currency he may have ever had by referring to the characters in The Proposal as "realistic," and instead let us focus on the fact that Generalissimo Setoodeh felt it necessary to specifically blow off Neil Patrick Harris' ability to play it straight any time he so chooses    despite the fact that nearly every one of Setoodeh's colleagues across the country have been lauding Harris for doing just that for five years now.  It was almost as if it offended Setoodeh that such an openly gay man could dance up a storm at the Oscars in a shiny tux one minute, and then be chasing hot babes in a Wall Street suit the next.  In one sentence, this one confused critic managed to dismiss a one actor's body of work, hundreds of television critics opinions which contradict his, several thousand Emmy voters who have consistently recognized NPH again and again, and millions of viewers who tune in to How I Met Your Mother each week specifically to watch Harris put his hilarious and poignant spin on an oversexed heterosexual pig.

On top of that, let's not forget that Setoodeh amazingly manages to consider realistic those found in The Proposal.

I suppose it could have been worse.  I suppose he could have cited All About Steve for it's naturalistic realism.

But it doesn't stop there.

So, now let us add into our equation that famous rug muncher extraordinaire Portia de Rossi, who has spent her entire career playing various and sundry man-eaters with effortless aplomb, including her fabulous turn the past few years on ABC's Better Off Ted.  Because it turns out that Pope Setoodeh XII also felt the need to label Ms. de Rossi's fine work as "caricature" in that very same sentence, since said wonderful work also blows Setoodeh's homophobic argument right out of the rosewater.

Apparently, gay actors can play it straight, but only if Newsweek isn't watching.

Honestly, I'm ripping Setoodeh a new one here (which should make him more popular down on Christopher Street), but I should really be tearing an asshole into Newsweek.  That anyone outside of Der Stürmer would publish such open hate speech masquerading as criticism should make us all sit up and take notice.  And by sit up and take notice, I mean, of course, cancel our subscriptions; boycott said magazine; boycott its advertisers (and send them lots of letters, because they really love that); and talk all kinds of shit about both the writer and the publisher until we make them both cry.

And while we are at it, I happen to know a couple of gay fireman who resemble John Matusak.  Perhaps we could lock Papa Doc Setoodeh in a room with them for an hour and see if he still feels gay men cannot convincingly act as much like a neanderthal as straight men.  

My personal opinion is that Setoodeh has probably never met a homosexual outside of the theater world, a Las Vegas cabaret, or the dank bathhouses he patronizes while wearing a hood over his head.  Gay men come in all shapes and sizes, but gay men in the theater world (and straight men in the theater world, for that matter) tend to be out-sized drama queens.  (I know this because I used to be one of those straight drama queens back in the day).  But those men represent homosexuals in general in much the same way that professional athletes represent men in general.  In other words, they don't.  They are a subset of a subset.  Gays really do come in all shapes and sizes.  To use a couple of media examples we might all recognize, more gay men resemble Chris Cooper in American Beauty or Christopher Meloni in Oz than they do Liberace.  And moving away from the extreme ends of the spectrum, most gay men are probably more akin to Mathew St. Patrick's Keith on Six Feet Under than they are to a either a bear or a twink.

The prancing, lisping homo isn't a fiction, but the idea that all gay men prance and lisp most certainly is.  Reprehensible articles, such as the one written by Field Marshall Setoodeh in Der Newschweek, are a prime reason that most people do not understand this fact.  Real gay men in the real world see these sorts of articles and decide to stay as closeted as possible, and for good reason.  If Sean Hayes can get nominated for a Tony for his performance as a straight man in Promises, Promises and still get called queery-queer boy by the nation's leading weekly periodical, what hope for tolerance does an English teacher or factory worker in Akron, Ohio or Norman, Oklahoma have if they come out?

And so gay men all over this land keep their closet doors shut understandably tight, never mingling with the regular world around them, and thus causing most people to believe the only kinds of gays in the world are those they see prancing around on Will & Grace.

And so, with a dearth of gay role models not dressed as Cher, we continue to bask in the callowness of men such as Setoodeh, who help keep ignorance and intolerance thriving thanks to their own self fulfilling prophecies. 

Talk about being scared straight.

Ok, I think I've dumped enough hate speech of my own on both Newsweek and Setoodeh.  I wasn't even going to go there, but I was prompted to this ire not by the article itself but by Setoodeh's reaction to the reaction to his article.  After being blasted from all corners, Setoodeh told Glee creator Ryan Murphy that "he feels cornered, misunderstood and unfairly attacked."

Gee, Ramin, now maybe you understand how Sean Hayes probably felt when you blasted him as a queen who made you "feel weird seeing Hayes play straight."

So, it was bad enough that he wrote the article, but now Setoodeh wants sympathy because people are painting him with the same broad brush he used on every openly gay actor in the world, and, by extension, every gay person in the world whose life is made more difficult thanks to homophobic horseshit like Setoodeh's Newsweek article.  Perhaps, Ramin, you should have thought it through a little more (and spoke to your psychotherapist about your own self-loathing and self-denial) before you decided to rip into an entire culture in your weekly national fish-wrap. 

I used the picture at the top of this page not only to remind everyone of how a talented gay man can play a straight sexist pig as well as anyone else, but to also ask you to turn your eyes to the other two gentlemen in the picture.  If I only knew each of these three gentlemen through their work as actors, and if I were the type of small minded dickweed who would then make judgments on people's sexuality based on their acting, then I'd stab Jason Segel with the gay blade first, Josh Radnor second, and Neil Patrick Harris 137th.  It's not just that NPH plays straight so convincingly on that show; it's that the other two guys on the show are also playing straight characters, yet they come off gayer than NPH does in his real life.  Neil Patrick Harris could be playing a rodeo clown while wearing assless chaps and he would come off as straighter than Jason Segel.

The point here is that "straight" and "gay" identify a person's sexuality, but those words convey nothing about a person's personality.  My love of show tunes and the color pink might make me look gay, but my wife's vagina would probably tell you differently.  And Esera Tuaolo probably never looked gay when he was crushing quarterback bones into dust for the Atlanta Falcons or the Green Bay Packers, but his boyfriend's butt would probably tell you differently.  "Gay" and "straight" are just words, and as such they have a very limited ability to accurately tell you everything you need to know in order define exactly who a person is.

Just as the word "news" conveys nothing about how factually inaccurate something you might read in a magazine called Newsweek might actually be.

Although I must say that the words "douche" and "bag" probably accurately reflect as much about Newsweek's editors as we'll ever need to know.


  1. Not to sound pornographic, but aren't you being a bit hard on the guy? I mean, how many gay Nazis were there really? Aside from Himmler, that is.

    He's obviously an idiot, but a Nazi?

    Newsweek, however, deserves all the shit they can get. One dumbass confused reporter is one thing, but an entire conglomerate let this get into print. They deserve the lion's share of abuse.

  2. You have a good point, Schwing, but I would point out that you can't be a little bit pregnant. Racism and prejudice are killers, quite literally, and need to be kicked in the nuts hard and fast. Had this been a rant on the internet, no biggee. But, as you point out, this was published in Newsweek. And while you are right that the magazine should bear the brunt of the criticism, there is no reason to let the writer off the hook even just a little bit.

    Whether the guy believed what he was saying, or whether he was saying it in a sick attempt to get attention ("Look, I'm a gay man participating in gay-bashing!"), what he said cannot be refuted forcefully enough.

    Prejudice is not a difference of opinion. It's ignorance at best, and evil incarnate more often than not. You can't speak it and then hope to dodge the consequences.

    Oh, and your name sounds really gay, Schwing.

  3. Kudos, Schmoker. Not many people can be funny, profound and profane all at the same time. Not everything you write is a gem, but this piece sure was. And if anyone deserves a kick in the nuts, it is Newsweek. Too bad this is probably exactly what they were hoping for when they published that dreck.

  4. Not sure it's as black and white, Schmoker. I saw Promises, Promises, and I thought Sean Hayes was awful. He came across very fey, and I could care less whether he is gay or not. I think the critic was right about that. Obviously not right about everyone. If people really knew who was gay and who was not, no one would ever make this argument, because they would see that not every gay man is fey, and not every gay woman is butch. Until then we will just have to deal with the stereotype, I guess.

    I guess I sound wishy washey.

  5. This has to be a stunt. How could a gay man write a gay bashing article for a major news magazine?

  6. Kevin Not SmithMay 17, 2010 1:21 PM

    It's no stunt, Sean. This discussion has been going on for a week now, and the writer's been getting heavy flack from major industry players in television, film, and magazines. Kristin Chenoweth about blew a gasket in a public letter, and Ryan Murphy did the same. Even Aaron Sorkin chimed in on the Huffington Post.

    Which, like another poster said, is probably and sadly exactly what Newsweek hoped for when they published it.

  7. Sean Hayes is fabulous in Promises, Promises. Right there the whole crux of this guy's alleged argument goes right out of the window. He wasn't nominated for a Tony for playing a giant Queenman. There's a hell of a lot more chemistry between him and Kristen Chenowith than there ever was between Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. If you are lucky enough to have a chance to see this show, take it. I've been twice already, and I'm neither gay nor a Newsweek employee. I'm just a fat dude who likes show tunes and the hot chick who sing them.