Hollywood’s Double Standard: When a Film Becomes “Too Gay”

Oh, Hollywood, you fickle, flighty temptress.

One second you’re in love, and the next, you stop returning everyone’s phone calls.

Now, because we can’t rely on you for information as to what has led to the changes in your affections, we must rely on conjecture, and of course, books such as “Think Like a Man” and “He’s Just Not That Into You.”

Since the latter options aren’t exactly what you would call “helpful,” “insightful,” or “informed,” I think I’m going to stick to my own conjecture, which also may be wrong, but at least I’m up front about it.

If you haven’t heard, HBO is producing a movie called “Behind the Candelabra” which is about famed musician Liberace and his longtime love, Scott Thorson, whom he dated for five years.  

The movie is on Thorson’s autobiography of the same name.  It stars Matt Damon as Thorson and Michael Douglas as Liberace, and will be directed by Academy Award winning director, Stephen Soderbergh.

Why, you may ask, is HBO producing a film with such star power behind it?  Surely this is some type of artsy move on behalf of Soderbergh!  

As a director, he wanted to create buzz behind the movie by slipping it under the radar, so that people walking on the streets would whisper, “Did you hear about that Liberace movie?  Looks good, but the director’s keeping it real hush-hush, says he doesn’t want anyone to see what may be the greatest film of all time.  Apparently he believes that the less people watch it, the better, because human eyes apparently sap the magic right off the film!”

This was not the case.  Despite his wizardry at writing scripts and directing award winning films, he is not an actual wizard who literally embeds magic into his movies.  Also, no studio wanted to produce it.  Why?  According to the director, the big head honchos of the studio (who, for my own purposes, I picture as large balding men with guns on their hips and handlebar mustache’s) believed the movie to be “too gay.”

I can hear the wheels in your head turning, “But, I don’t understand! I saw “Brokeback Mountain” in theaters, and the plot revolved around the love shared between two male cowboys! And what about that “Milk” movie?  Wasn’t that one all about two gay guys as well?”

Yes and yes.

“So how on earth can this movie be Too Gay?!”

Ah, but let us think my friends. “Brokeback Mountain” and “Milk” were unequivocal critical darlings, in addition to being box office successes.

However, do you remember a movie called “I Love You Philip Morris?” Chances are, it might ring a bell, but you’ve probably never seen it.  It too is based off of a real life love affair between con artist Steven Jay Russell and Philip Morris.  It had a very limited theatrical release in the United States, and much like “Behind the Candelabra,” had a difficult time finding a U.S. distributor.

Here’s why I think these movies had such a difficult time.  When I watched “I Love You Philip Morris,” I laughed.  Really hard.  The movie is a quirky, at times dark, romantic comedy.  And according to Soderbergh, “Behind the Candelabra” is funnier than “Brokeback Mountain,” how funny it is, I’m not certain, but when you’re dealing with Liberace, you’ve got to have some lighter moments.  The man was after all, one of the most flamboyant showmen of all time.

Although neither “I Love You Philip Morris” and “Behind the Candelabra” have the happiest of endings, they’re still nowhere near as tragic as films like “Brokeback Mountain” and “Milk.”  And I think that makes all the difference.

To put it simply, it seems as though Hollywood is uncomfortable with gay people being the subjects of matter that’s not wholly tragic and discriminatory.  Gay people being happy and at times having normal relationship troubles that don’t wholly stem from the fact that they violate religious and social taboos is something that Hollywood isn’t yet ready to endorse.

Apparently, according to Hollywood, a movie becomes “too gay” when the main characters become “too happy.”

I personally would much rather see a fun movie about one of the greatest icons in music rather than watch a movie about a romance between Tom Cruise and his intense love for blowing shit up and walking away from explosions, but unfortunately, I am not a big wig Hollywood producer, despite my ever growing collection of large wigs.

So Hollywood, you may win this time, but guess what?  I’m going to watch that Liberace movie so many times on HBO, you’re going to wish you’d produced it.  Then I’m going to buy the 

DVD.  Twice.

And then, you’re going to rue the day you ever thought anything was “too gay.”


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  • erikdolnack

    Thu, 10.01.13 at 07:07PM

    “I personally would much rather see a fun movie about one of the greatest icons in music…”

    So would I! Which is why I recommend the music film “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never”, a film that may even “out-gay” Soderbergh’s Candelabra.

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