Please, queer the movies
For the last few weeks, I have been passing movie theaters advertising Before Midnight, the third in the series of talky romances starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I’ve heard that it’s fantastic, the best of the three; and the other two are considered minor classics. But I didn’t go. I am so sick of having to wait three or four years between serviceable, let alone good, movies about gay relationships, and I am also sick of never seeing gay characters, plots, or even subplots in Hollywood features, just punch-lines or sight gags (like half the jokes in This Is the End) or blink-and-you-miss-it Easter eggs (like Catwoman’s line-less, barely there girlfriend in The Dark Knight Rises). TV has a long way to go, too, but there are rich, interesting LGBT characters everywhere on the small screen, on the networks and on cable. But Hollywood seems terrified of queerness in the movies, and I don’t know why.
Maybe they think it would have doomed Now You See Me in, say, China or Russia if one of the magicians or FBI agents were bisexual, or if one of the super soldiers in G.I. Joe: Retaliation had been a lesbian. I’ve imagined many ways movies like these could be queered – especially when I’m bored at the movies, or when I’m writing a negative reviews, or when I’m watching a movie and I feel a little bit alone and I don’t know why until I realize it’s because no one like me is on the screen. So, this Pride week, I thought I’d offer ten ways that this year’s films would have been more fun if they were a bit more gay.
The Great Gatsby. There’s a good deal of gay subtext in Fitzgerald’s novel, but Luhrmann could have made it text: invited gay guests to the parties, made Nick “I’m gaga for Gatsby” Caraway the queer he clearly is, and ramped up the lesbianism of Jordan. She’s a pro golfer, for Pete’s sake.
Gangster Squad. Since nothing about this movie that is “based on a true story” is remotely true, making one – or two! – of the Depression Era anti-gang cops members a homosexual would have been easy. And if it bad been Ryan Gosling’s character, it would have been a big bonus.
Man of Steel. In one notorious screenplay for Superman Returns written by JJ Abrams, Jimmy Olson was gay. Homophobic fanboys freaked, and it never happened. And in Man of Steel, he doesn’t exist. How awesome would it be if Jimmy was gay, Superman was his best straight friend, and Lois his hag?
Iron Man 3. Considering how irritating Tony Stark is, I’m not sure what Pepper Potts sees in him. That said, how fun would it have been if she had taken up with a woman – perhaps the one played by Rebecca Hall – after it seems as if Ironman has been blown to bits?
This Is the End. Considering how many jokes are made about James Franco enjoying putting penises in his mouth, a truly awesome writer would have given James Franco a monologue about how much he likes to have sex with men and how pathetic his homophobic friends are.
World War Z. The Israeli soldier who hangs out with Brad Pitt for half of the movie seems rather butch, but the filmmakers did nothing with it. Other than keep her head shaved. They should have given her a wife lost during a zombie rampage in Tel Aviv.
Oz the Great and Powerful. I’m not sure why Finley, the winged monkey in a bell boy’s uniform who becomes Oz’s sidekick, wasn’t written as gay, because as voiced by Zach Braff, that would have been a hoot. Or a howl. Or something like that. Even better, if the China doll had been a boy and been Finley’s love interest.
Fast & Furious 6. It would have been awesome as a porn about six buff guys with premature ejaculation problems.
Star Trek Into Darkness. In the future, racism and speciesism seem to have been evolved out the people of earth. Maybe homosexuality and transgenderism has, too? I think it would be a great tribute to George Takei if Sulu was gay, fierce, and hooking up with a Vulcan FTM.
Warm Bodies. R, a zombie, and Julie, a living person, are star-crossed lovers, and that’s about as faithful to Romeo & Juliet the movie is. Why not go further? Giving M, R’s best zombie friend, a male lust object would have been delightful, as would have making Nora the Nurse as lusty lesbian. Or anything. I’m pretty sure that, even after a zombie apocalypse, some of the queers will survive.
Have fun writing this? Well, I guess! I’ve seen none of these films, they just don’t get to rural Maine, but that takes nothing away from the imagination on full display.
(Should you be giving this stuff away for free? Don’t studios pay handsomely for just this kind of advice? Start a consulting firm . . .)