Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Evolution of the Homosexual Character in Hollywood Film

Homosexuality has evolved very similarly to all other racy subjects in film, but it is still a topic that the general public is working to find acceptance for. In its beginning, it was discussed only subtly and its extreme cases were exploited for laughter. In other words, it was not viewed as an actual state of being for humans, but more as an underlying joke to the general public that cannot possibly describe something true. Characters flamboyantly gallivanted across the screen, usually as men with overly girly characteristics. The audience would laugh because they felt as though the subject matter being portrayed was not serious in itself. After a period of parodying gay life, Hollywood began to treat this lifestyle as being villainous or sinful. As time progressed, filmmakers began to deepen their focus on sexuality, which included homosexuality. Scenes became more graphic and audiences were drawn in by the erotic imagery produced. The raciness of film seemed okay to most viewers until that also included homosexual subject matter. Not a large percentage of the general audience wished to see the relationship or romantics of two males on the big screen. Due to this and other factors, Hollywood became handcuffed by censorship and was forever changed.

The documentary-style film The Celluloid Closet discusses in full the transgression of homosexuality into movie productions and how it has adapted and evolved overtime in Hollywood. Many prominent actors, actresses, producers, and directors, who are almost all gay or lesbian, are called on to discuss their take on homosexuality in Hollywood. It is interesting to view homosexuality as a subculture that is minimally represented by film, for the general audience is assumed to be straight. An entire group of people are then left unrepresented by animation or film that is supposed to connect all people and stories. In order to combat the general audiences dissent for this subject and Hollywood's implementation of censorship, directors and producers began slipping subtle messages or moments representing or alluding to homosexuality within their films. For example, in the movie Red River, two cowboys exchange their guns in order to get a feel for the other's weapon. It is a simple exchange, yet a gay innuendo of homosexuality can be gotten from in between the lines. Unfortunately, Hollywood has also created a stereotype of the prototype gay male as being an advocate of fashion, cooking, or gossip. This stereotype is subtly built in movies such as the 1961 film Lover Come Back, where the boss of a fashion company complains about the general public not liking "lilac" flooring and not having a decorative touch. The Celluloid Closet also details that seeming gay was almost worse than being gay, for masculinity ruled Hollywood. A man must walk a certain way, be involved in masculine affairs, and always be woman-crazy because otherwise he might be gay. The ironic aspect of this theory, though, is the unfair bias against homosexuality held by a lot of men. It is uncomfortable and inhumane for two men to have sexual relations with one another such as in Sunday, Bloody Sunday, but it is "sexy, palatable, erotic, or titillating" for two woman to have sexual relations. Hollywood has even gone as far as painting homosexual beings as monsters.

Ultimately, straight men propel the movie industry forward, so it is hard for homosexuality to dominate a production as a central theme. The documentary The Celluloid Closet details the growth of this subject in Hollywood films and exploits unfair or biased criticism against it.

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