I’ve looked over the number of actors who have won Oscars for playing a gay, bisexual, or transgendered character like William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman), Nicole Kidman (The Hours), Tom Hanks (Philadelphia), Hilary Swank (Boys Don’t Cry), Charlize Theron (Monster), Sean Penn (Milk), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), and recently Christopher Plummer (Beginners).
What sticks out to me about these winners is not thinking that the Academy is nice enough to give an award for an LGBT role beyond any prejudices, but that most of those characters end up dead at the end. Is it some pattern they are not aware of or is there something appealing about homosexuals or lesbians or transsexuals being killed or committing suicide or dying of disease that pigeonholds their popularity in Hollywood. They’re looked at as the tragic characters who don’t live happily ever after and who we must weep for, rather than happily see them walk off alive with their partners or at least comfort with their sexuality.
Actors who were nominated for similar roles like Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain) and Jaye Davidson (The Crying Game) are big exceptions, in how Ledger’s character Ennis survives at the end, still in love with his dead partner and how Davidson’s transwoman Dil gets to visit her lover in jail after he’s taken the fall for her. It’s funny though that Ledger was nominated alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman, who ended up winning for playing the gay writer Truman Capote, a person who we’re allowed to see alive at least during the time the film is set. That’s an exception on the Academy’s part, although Capote brings out all the stereotypes one could have of a gay man with his high-pitched voice and fancy dressing. Other than that, it’s hard to think of any surviving characters in film who come out alive, still gay or bisexual or transgendered, that are memorable in Hollywood or have won major awards. It’s very rare to witness the survival of a repressed minority on Hollywood’s terms when there’s too much fear of how bigoted and God-fearing people will behave across society about any depictions that could improve the image or make it look more acceptable. I still wonder why it’s so much easier to depict freely in Europe and what gives Hollywood more limits.
You’re absolutely right. The Academy is incapable of nominating anyone in an LGBT role that isn’t used to “inspire” people.
I can safely say that the MPAA would not readily give an R rating to any film that contained anything other than heterosexual sex. Furthermore any LGBT themed film would probably have to be produced by a small studio which is another check against them.
People in America would go ape if someone made a Derek Jarman-esque film here simply because they can’t seem to understand that people who are in the LGBT community do not “choose” to be there.
’I’m not gay but I would publicly say that I would appreciate more films that dealt with LGBT issues openly instead of always, always making them victims.
I don’t know. I wonder if it has more to do with the Academy’s tilt to conventional, “safe” storytelling and less to do with shunning acceptable gay characters. I mean, Annette Bening nearly won for The Kids Are All Right and I think it was because the film was not only well made but well made in a conventional sense. Take away the gay stuff and it’s a very Hollywood type film. That seems to be the issue – there are not a lot of Hollywood-type films being made with gay characters. Make more movies like The Kids are All Right and I’m sure you’ll see more recognition from the Academy.
“I can safely say that the MPAA would not readily give an R rating to any film that contained anything other than heterosexual sex.”
I don’t understand. The Kids are All Right, Brokeback Mountain, I Love You Phillip Morris – these all contained gay sex scenes and the MPAA gave them an R. What exactly do you mean by this statement?
I mean mean hands-down thrusting romps in bed. No body tape and replacement actors. I watched an adaptation of Christopher and His Kind and Matt Smith quite literally took it up the butt (with explicit thrusting) in that one and that scene alone would have sent the MPAA into a tizzy. That film by the way only received a “15” rating in the UK.
I don’t know – Jim Carrey was getting pretty into it in that scene in Phillip Morris. lol
The Spoiler is that Chris Plummer won for Beginners 3 days ago, but maybe you TiVo’d the Oscars and have been hiding since then and have no idea about who won…
at least that’s what i’m guessing.
Also there’s a spoiler about Heath Ledger’s character (Ennis) in Brokeback lives at the end of the movie…? and also the The Crying Game brief character development synopsis?
Not an Oscar winner, but it did get a Best Actor nom and won the BAFTA for Best Actor.
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Peter Finch, 1971
Treats the sexuality of Finch’s character, who’s gay (or possible bi, I’m foggy on the details), pretty much exactly the same as it does Glenda Jackson’s character, a hetero woman. Even has a (very progressive for the time) gay sex scene.
(performance against performance, he probably should have won it, but Gene Hackman did The French Connection that year, so . . .)
^Speaking of Roy Schieder, didn’t Bob Fosse win the Oscar over Coppola in 1972? And Fosse is a gay icon – does that count?
If we can count gay icons, then we can include Cher!
Fosse’s a gay icon?
Oh come on – jazz hands?
Of course the gays love him!
I like jazz hands and I’m not gay.
I enjoy theatricality in my performances, when it’s part of the performance and not the performance.
Case in point:
^Wasn’t that the guy that slept with Mick Jagger?
That would be David Bowie. He’s currently married to a former super-model.
Yep, same guy.
i am so sad, that was my best creative writting piece yet
now what am i going to have as evidence when i am famous ?
i am sorry mubi ! i will try to tone down my vulgarity