06 December 2008

Unabashed Milk Spillage

I have pondered whether or not I should put my two cents in regarding Gus Van Sant's Milk considering how much press it's getting. Who cares about my two cents? Then I thought, "Matt Siegel, you have a unique perspective. Spill it."

I was nervous about seeing the film. I have spent many a year feeling sad and angry, so why spend money to feel that way? I'm such a jew-ess. Give it to me for free and I'll see it immediately. I made a date to see Milk with my friend, actress, Jill Clayburgh. I mention her by name because, to me, she is the ultimate mother and nurturer, on-screen and off, and I wanted someone safe to go with me.

On our way into The Grove, I mentioned how I wished an out gay man could have played the title role in Milk and Jill got pissed, calling me pigheaded and asking me if I would prefer that the movie not have been made at all. Mama, why are you being so firm with me? I understood her point, it was a big Hollywood film and needed a major name attached to it. My feeling about the casting had more to do with the fact that in such a gay industry, many, many, many actors are in the closet for fear of not getting jobs as a result. Where has Rupert Everett been since he came out years ago? One shitty movie with his faghag, Madonna, is where he's been. It is common knowledge that once you come out, casting people and executives believe it is too difficult for audiences to see you as anything but gay. I began running through out gay actors in my head as alternatives to Sean Penn but the prospect of Doogie Howser playing Harvey Milk made me want to go back in the closet. With that said, I liken the casting of Sean Penn in Milk to Anthony Hopkins playing a light-skinned black man in The Human Stain.

I was also freaked out to see Milk because Gus Van Sant, like any red-blooded, American gay male, likes to cast pretty boys in his films. He loves finding those other-side-of-the-tracks bad attitude twinks, and turn them into actors, as he did in Elephant. I guess he's drawn to their untainted, virile, boyishness. Me too, Girl, me too. I accompanied a friend to the Milk open casting call in San Francisco a few years ago, and Gus was sitting at a table cruising/casting. I don't blame him. So when I saw that James Franco had been cast to play Harvey Milk's lover, I was not surprised but I was bummed. I find really hot guys distracting and annoying on-screen and off. You won't catch me cruising any male models along Santa Monica Boulevard. I refuse to give hot people more unwarranted attention than they already get. Plus I want to reject them before they can reject me. Do you see how real I am? Who else would admit that?

Perhaps as a result of my psychoses, I found Franco's depiction somewhat uninspired. I think he was really proud of himself for playing a fag. He's so open! Just like Jack Black and all of those other actors who came out to support Prop 8 after the fucking election. Thanks for that. That whole Prop 8 musical just reeks of self-congratulation from those hetero actors. Put a dick in your mouth and call me in the morning, please.

Emile Hirsch was solid, if a little affected, and his opening scene with Sean Penn was memorable. His curly wig and pedophile glasses reminded me of several trans hipster boys I know. Allison Pill, the only female supporting character, in a leather jacket and a bad perm, held her own as the only lesbian and only woman in the bunch. I applaud the brief depiction of gay male misogyny. It is an important, oft overlooked prejudice in the gay male community. Jill and I agreed that Sean Penn's performance was absolutely top notch. There was not one second where I found myself skeptical of his Harvey Milk. It was brilliantly nuanced and utterly committed.

Spoiler alert, spoiler alert! Believe me, you want this part spoiled. I was shocked to see a really fuckin cheesy story line. A very hot, butch, gay teen from Minnesota calls Milk as he is rushing out of his apartment to a possible riot situation. The gay teen says he's gonna kill himself, his parents are sending him to a mental institution the next day and he had seen Milk in the newspaper. So Milk is like, "get on a bus tonight and go to LA or New York or San Francisco" and the hot, gay, suicidal teen is like, "that's the thing. I can't. I'm in a wheelchair" and the camera pans out to show him in a wheelchair. My eyes rolled out of my head and into the popcorn under my chair. And, hello, why couldn't it be a fat fuckin' femme calling Milk up? A young Bruce Vilanch, perhaps? Because it's not pretty enough. And to bring shit full circle, the kid calls Milk a year later, conveniently and unbelievably while election results are coming in, and tells him he's alive and well in Los Angeles. Useless bullshit, Gussy. PS...I took Bruce Vilanch to dinner at an Argentinean restaurant a few years ago where he ate a plate of melted cheese, did not try to pay for the meal, and when I was dropping him off at home, offered to eat my ass. Didn't you have enough to eat tonight, Bruce?

Amongst gay youth there is great apathy and rampant ageism towards our predecessors. The value of this film may lie less in educating ignorant heterosexuals and more in educating ignorant homosexuals.


suzbonfiglio said...

This piece is really, really good. Seriously. I'm reading it again and sending it to all my queers. And the ass-eating cheese plate story would be AMAZING as a comic; can you draw?

Anonymous said...

You should read "The Mayor of Castro Street" because that gay in a wheelchair shit? ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

The Unabashed Queer said...

Oooooo someone is trying to anonymously read me! I was debating less that the gay in the wheelchair shit ever happened and more that the way it happened was dramatized. I do not believe said gay called Milk 1. on his way to a riot and then 2. as election results were coming in. That was a little too LMN for my ass. And furthermore, why did that gay in a wheelchair have to be so hot? Because it's a Gus Van Sant film and as I said, Gus likes the hot boys.