Is GLAAD’s evaluation of LGBT characters in movies accurate?

CLOUD ATLAS

‘Cloud Atlas,’ with out actor Ben Whishaw (right), was one of the most gay-positive films released last year — and one of two that starred Whishaw (‘Skyfall’ was the other)

GLAAD has always seemed, to me, a strange organization. On the plus side, they are a watchdog group that looks out for the interest of LGBT people, especially how they are portrayed in the media. They call out bullshit when they need to, and they give mainstream journalism a mirror to look at their own way of covering gay issues.

On the other hand, GLAAD has always been a little starstruck itself. It holds big awards ceremonies where it invites media elites and celebrities, even when such adulation doesn’t seem deserved. Back when Isaiah Washington made his first homophobic comment about T.R. Knight, GLAAD attacked him. It then got him to do a PSA on their behalf, and all was forgiven … until the next time he made a gay gaffe. Strange bedfellows, that business.

But I was surprised by the headline I woke up to this morning that GLAAD was giving a failing rating to Hollywood for only releasing 14 films with LGBT characters in them in 2012.

“How could this be?” I thought. “If that were the case, I’d dry up reviewing movies.  I see 14 gay-themed movies a month. What could they be talking about?”

Then I read deeper into the stories (you can see the entire report here). That 14 number reflects only the top 101 films released by six major Hollywood studios: Warners (Cloud Atlas, Rock of Ages), Paramount (Katy Perry: Part of Me, Fun Size, A Thousand Words), Columbia (Skyfall, 21 Jump Street, Think Like a Man, That’s My Boy), Universal (Pitch Perfect, Ted, American Reunion, The Five-Year Engagement), Disney (The Avengers) and Fox (none). And to me, both of those criteria — “major” (top-grossing) film from “major” (Big Six) studios provides a slanted view of the facts.

Maybe you didn’t see some films you remember seeing with positive gay characters — Perks of Being a Wallflower maybe, or ParaNorman? Cuz GLAAD didn’t count those, even though both turned in respectable grosses.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

End of an era: “Bernie” closing at Magnolia

We knew this day had to come eventually, but for a while it seemed like it never would. After five months, Bernie is finally going final at the Magnolia Theatre this week. Thursday’s matinee will be its last showing in Dallas.

It was always a good fit. The hilarious comedy about an actual murder in East Texas is as authentic as a Fletcher’s Corny Dog in portraying Texas characters. It opened here on May 3 — that’s the same day as The Avengers, which hasn’t been in theaters in months. Of course, The Avengers made a billion dollars; Bernie hasn’t even grossed $10 million nationwide. But think about that: Five solid months in one theater and still profitable. The Magnolia had an audience at they got it.

It was tough to get a seat sometimes, even when it played on as many as three screens, but everyone who saw it laughed at Jack Black’s surprisingly sensitive portrayal of a goofy murderer and Matthew McConaughey pre-Magic Mike as a blowhard D.A.

It’s not on multiple screens anymore, down to at most two shows a week. (It was “officially” pulled from release last Friday, though Landmark seems not to have gotten the notice.) It has already been released on Blu-ray and DVD, even. But if you missed it and would like to see it in a theater, there’s still time.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay Green Lantern debuts today

We reported recently about the big news in the comic book world (other than the huge success of The Avengers): First Marvel announced the long-time gay character Northstar would marry his boyfriend (that takes place in the issue coming out June 20). Then DC Comics — which last fall reintroduced its entire superhero universe with all-new No. 1 issues — revealed that the iconic Green Lantern (who I like to call Queen Lantern) would come out as gay.

Well, not exactly.

Yes, the character of the Green Lantern is gay. But not really coming out.

As part of the relaunch, DC has modernized the tales of most of the characters. Many of the heroes were introduced in the 1940s as Nazi fighters, including the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who was blond and wore a cape. In the 1960s, he was replaced by the modern Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, and the green-and-black bodysuit was introduced.

Well, Alan Scott is back. But so is Hal Jordan. It’s not really all that confusing.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This weekend’s takeaways: Life+Style

If you weren’t at the Meyerson last night, you missed the historic appearance by former First Lady Laura Bush, appearing with her home town’s gay men’s chorus, the Turtle Creek Chorale, for a program that also featured the Army chorus. It marked the final concert of the TCC’s season, and the first since interim conductor Trey Jacobs was officially named the new permanent artistic director.

Dallas Theater Center’s production of God of Carnage at the Kalita provides a juicy bit of social commentary amid 75 minutes of serious belly laughs. And there’s still time to catch Memphis at Fair Park, an entertaining and occasionally moving musical about the history of rock ‘n’ roll on the radio with some radiant singing. (It was written by Tony winner Joe DiPietro.) The Dallas Children’s Theater wraps up its production of Diary of a Worm, a Spider and a Fly soon with this family-friendly hip-hop musical about embracing differences in one another. And different it is — B.J. Cleveland does drag as a lady fly and Adam Garst cleverly James-Deans his way through the role of an angsty spider.

Mansome is still playing at the Angelika, and you’s be better off catching that — or even The Avengers again — rather than Men in Black 3, although it’s better than the last two. Or kick off summer’s first three-day weekend with some beach reading, especially In One Person, the new one by John Irving with a bisexual hero at its center. The is also Ye Fynall Week-End to enjoy Scarborough Faire, pictured.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: Men in Dreck 3

Poor Barry Sonnenfeld. In another life, he was a respected cinematographer, who shot the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, in addition to Misery. He was versatile and quirky. Then he became a director, and that sense of humor became compromised by Hollywood middle-brow aesthetics. The two Addams Family movies had moments, and Get Shorty was actually good, but mostly he’s stuck adding a shiny inconsequentiality to bad action comedies. (His last film as a director, RV in 2006 was a serious flop; he has directed some good TV shows though, notably the short-lived Pushing Daisies.)

I’m sure he cries all the way to the bank, though, as he has directed all of the Men in Black films, including 3, which comes out Friday. These are hugely popular, although frankly, I’ve always been at a loss for why. They are action-comedies that have predictable action and aren’t very funny; special effects spectaculars that undercut their special effects with dumb humor. They have stretched them out over 15 years, so at least we only get bored once in a while, not on a semi-annual basis.

Men in Black 3 is clearly the best in the series, though that is akin to saying the third bout of cholera was the mildest. What started out as a vehicle for Tommy Lee Jones (he got top billing in the first one, remember?) has now marginalized him to the extent he disappears after 25 minutes, not to return again until the last scene. (It’s just as well: He’s begun to look like a saddle with eyebrows.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Movie Monday: “The Avengers” in wide release

Avengers assemble!

When you’re dealing with movie franchises, survivability is at least as important as plot, and Marvel has a whole lotta franchise built into The Avengers, which capitalizes on the two Iron Man movies, two vastly different Hulk movies, and last summer’s one-two punch of Thor and Captain America. And there are more to come.

Fans of the Marvel universe have long preferred it to DC Comics because its heroes tended to be more complete human beings — flawed, and with complex backstories. In action movies, that’s often the first thing abandoned, and it certainly is here … at least for the first hour or so. After the heroes assemble in The Avengers following some set-piece smash-‘em-ups, we get more of the character.

For the entire review, click here.

DEETS:

—  Rich Lopez

Logo announces winners of NewNowNext Awards

The live broadcast of Logo’s NewNowNext Awards won’t be until Monday, but we already know the winners. Despite Logo deciding it’s no longer a “gay” network, some of the winners are on the gay side. Here’s the list in the really odd categories they’ve come up with:

Next Mega Star: Josh Hutcherson, The Hunger Games.

Most Addictive Reality Star: Nadia G, Bitchin’ Kitchen (The Cooking Channel) (defeating Drag Racer Willam).

Cause Your Hot: Naya Rivera, Glee (Fox) (pictured). She defeated Channing Tatum and Henry Cavill.

TV You Betta Watch: Dallas-set GCB (ABC).

Best New Indulgence: Revenge (ABC).

Next Must-See Movie: The Avengers.

Beyond Style Award (tie): Andrej Pejic and Kelly Osbourne (Kelly will be hosting the awards).

Brink of Fame Music Artist: Neon Hitch.

Superfan Site: Vampire-Diaries.net.

Hmmm… Looking at the list, maybe it’s good they aren’t gay anymore.

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones