Sunday, 19 January 2014
And I thought it was over. I thought that we were no longer blaming ourselves, and that others were through blaming us. But no, the blaming will never end.
I just caught the movie Stranger By The Lake. I was drawn to it because it was a gay film – boasting graphic gay sex scenes. Indeed it is a gay film, and it’s very sexy.
I don’t know. I was crazy I guess. For one nutty moment I thought that someone might have made an intelligent gay flic for the 21st century. One that wasn’t homophobic.
Boy was I wrong.
The movie starts out well. It features very accurate depictions of cruising and park sex. I know cruising situations more than very well. So, I was at first impressed by the array of ‘types’ so faithfully displayed: the okay looking guy you have sex with to settle, the unattractive loser who follows you around (and ends up sucking you off when you’re horny), the ‘straight’ man who disavows any knowledge that this is actually a gay cruising ground, the sad but sweet bisexual guy looking for a friend, and – of course – the tall tanned super cute guy you really really want to fuck, and (finally!) eventually do.
Yes, all this is portrayed with tact, sweetness and even beauty, Make no doubt about it, French director Alan Guiraudie is skilled at his craft. Too bad the movie is ultimately a big pile of steaming, smelly crap.
You see, our young hero witnesses a really, really, cute tanned guy drowning someone at the cruising ground. Instead of reporting the crime to authorities, he proceeds to fall in love with the really, really, cute guy and – have an affair with him. I was still trying to like the movie at this point, shielding my eyes to the inevitable. I hoped it was just going to be about demon lovers in general, or human sexual ethics everywhere.
But, alas, no.
The movie is about us.
For at one point the investigating policeman takes our hero aside, and berates him (or, rather, the whole gay community) for being so foolish. I must paraphrase, but it’s something to the effect of ‘”Why can’t you get some self-respect? You call this a community? A man has died and you don’t care? You just continue having sex with each other willy-nilly?”
I think you get the idea. Now where might we have heard this before? Well it is certainly the subtext of countless admonitions the gay community has received from doctors, members of the religious right, and the straight establishment, concerning AIDS. You will find echoes of it in Dr. Brookner’s plaintive cry from The Normal Heart “Why can’t you just stop having sex?”
Of course it is appalling that Stranger By The Lake (like The Dallas Buyers Club) manages to ignore the incredibly kindness, intuitiveness, co-operation, and heroism of gay men, who (in Western countries) within the space of 15 years, transformed what was forecast to become a ‘worldwide plague’ into a manageable disease – and quite often with no help from doctors. (And AIDS would today be a manageable disease worldwide if it wasn’t for the greed of pharmaceutical companies.)
As irritating as that omission is, that is not the true crime committed by Stranger By The Lake.
Stranger By The Lake is a movie in which gay men are blamed, yet again, for simply wanting to have sex.
So can I say, once more, that gay men did nothing wrong? That we didn’t ‘bring it on ourselves?’ Can I say that gays and lesbians are loving people, that they always have been, always will be, and that AIDS was not a mistake that gay men made, or a consequence of gay recklessness or gay ‘hypersexuality.’ The fact that gay men wished to continue having sex even when AIDS was ‘discovered’ is merely human. Would anyone in their right mind ever think of asking straight people to stop having sex? Wouldn’t straight people recognize such a barbaric demand as anti-human?
Sex is a human need.
And sex never killed anyone.
Only a disease can do that.
Movies like Stranger By The Lake confirm something I’ve always wished not to believe.
People want men to stop having sex with men. They wanted it before AIDS. They wanted it at the height of the epidemic, and now that AIDS is a manageable disease, they want it again. And homophobes will twist the truth about AIDS in any way they can, because the blame game will not be over for a very a very long time.
But I ask you (no, I plead with you) must it go on forever?
Saturday, 11 January 2014
Dear Nice Reader who probably never complains at all, here are a buncha things that bug my ass:
1. I read in The National Post yesterday that several Canada-bashers -- including Gary Shteyngart and Stephen Marche -- are criticizing Canadian funding for the arts. You can always trust The National Post to publish anything that is critical of so-called government waste. (To Harper Devotees government waste means money that goes to marginalized people, as opposed to money that goes to rich businessmen.) In an interview on Vulture.com Mr. Shteyngart said that Canadian writers are boring because “Maybe they want to please the Ontario Arts Council or whatever it is.” Stephen Marche concurred, with the blithe comment -- “Canlit doesn’t take risks. My God what an amazingly controversial idea.” Yes Canlit can be boring -- but why don’t either of these guys blame Heather Reisman and/or capitalism itself? I love the way it was beneath Mr. Shteyngart to even remember the name of an arts council. And Esquire’s Stephen Marche obviously knows the way to get ahead in American publishing is to trash Canadians. Canadian culture is boring only because it is being suffocated to death by American commercialism, and the banal digital media it spews out like so much kaka vomit. But what would Gary and Stephen know? Vulture.com (which quoted Shteyngart) is proud to supply us, daily, with ‘entertainment news, celebrity news and TV recaps’ and Marche’s Esquire features a webpage with a scintillating story on “The 10 Most Badass Female Action Stars.” Wow – that’s not boring, eh?
2. The ‘backlash’ against The Wolf of Wall Street would be incredibly hilarious if it
wasn’t so tragic. After the movie was released worried fathers everywhere tweeted: “I brought my kids to see The Wolf of Wall Street over Christmas and had to shield their eyes! Is this what Hollywood calls quality family holiday entertainment?” Well what did you expect, you dufus? And hey, why are people so shocked by this flic, anyway? It’s because movies have gotten so Disneyfied (Saving Mr. Banks anyone?) that if it isn’t a handful of treacle washed down with a spoonful of sugar people are ‘offended.’ Sure, a fraud like David. O. Russell can make a lousy Scorsese ripoff called American Hustle and get nominated for twenty Oscars, even though it’s just a bunch of stupid gags acted out by a bunch of cartoon characters (wow men in hair curlers, what could be funnier than that?). But when Scorsese crafts a real/ touching / brilliant / fantastic movie deeply exploring the human capacity for greed, folly and self-destruction, people are ‘offended.’ (I don’t even like Leonardo DiCaprio. But the scene where he’s stoned and crawling to his car is the scariest, most amazing thing I’ve ever watched in any movie, anywhere.)
3. Did you have some travel headaches over the holidays? Well apparently it’s not the fault of the airline, or GO METROLINX, it’s the fault of the weather. Sorry but I’m not buying it. I was waiting four two hours in a lineup with a bunch of other frozen commuters while a bunch of GO drivers next to us were having a good laugh and a coffee. None of them thought to help. All we wanted wanted was a little communication. (What is going on? When is that bus coming?) My prediction is that travel will just get worse because our culture is dedicated to figuring out ways to make people stay home. Bad service when you visit the bank? Do your banking online. Your bus is late? Please email us with your comments! Frankly, why should any business provide good service in person anymore when most businesses would rather you did your shopping online? We travel to meet people and find new experiences, right? Well I don’t know how to tell you this, but people won’t be doing that shit in the future. In the future we’ll be doing all our traveling in cyberspace and having Skype sex.
4. Speaking of sex. I’m tired of guys who want to ‘party.’ You know when they come into your room at the baths, and they are so hot, and they start having sex with you, and then comes the inevitable ‘Do you party?’ question -- which means do you do drugs, probably heavy duty ones – like crack or Crystal Meth? And if you say ‘Sorry dude no, I don’t party’ the hot guy goes away. Now don’t get me wrong, I know people have always have liked sex and drugs together. But it seems to me (and I’m old enough to remember this) that there was a time when those drugs weren’t liable to kill you right on the spot (remember alcohol and marijuana?), or people were willing to just, you know, have sex. Remember sex? It can be a lot of fun without drugs. Or am I wrong?
So what is this world coming to?