Ramin Setoodeh, the Newsweek writer who wrote an article about how gay actors can't convincingly play straight last spring and got in huge trouble with all the gay folks, is back poking at that third rail again, defending himself anew.
Or something? In a new post on Newsweek's new partially absorbed twin The Daily Beast, Setoodeh says that he went back to see Sean Hayes in Promises, Promises — the Broadway performance that was the inspiration for the original article — and learned some new things:
Was I really a traitor to my own community? Before Promises, Promises closed on Broadway on Sunday, I bought a ticket and secretly went to see the show again. Once inside, I slumped down in my seat, afraid somebody would call the GLAAD police if I were spotted. The lights dimmed, and Sean Hayes opened the show alongside a troop of male dancers. When he sang about his passion for basketball, the men performed aerial splits. Then he started to pine after the office lunch lady (Kristin Chenoweth), and I realized that I had been all wrong.
It's not just that audiences don't often see openly gay actors in straight roles. What's even more unsettling is that Hollywood doesn't even allow gay actors to play gay. With the film industry swept up in the congratulatory swirl of awards season, not a single openly gay actor is up for an Oscar nomination. Of course, that's probably because no openly gay actors even starred in any big films of 2010. The lovable lesbian wives in The Kids Are All Right were played by the heterosexual actresses Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. The quirky couple in I Love You Phillip Morris were portrayed by straight men Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.
Hm... OK, so his point is that there aren't enough openly gay people acting in big roles these days, gay part or not. That's a fair point. But let's again consider his original thesis, reiterated in today's post:
Last spring, I argued that Hayes, best known as the flamboyant Jack from Will & Grace, did not make a convincing straight man. And if an accomplished performer like Hayes can't pull it off, can any openly gay actor? Is homosexuality such an innate part of who you are-like age, gender, or skin color-that you just can't leave it at the stage door?
So, let's see. Aside from the narrow types he's annoyingly assuming as given, Setoodeh is bemoaning that gay actors aren't allowed to play the gay parts. But then he says that gay actors probably can't ever play straight (if acting genius Sean Hayes is to signify anything), ignoring the fact that most acting parts are straight ones. Way to encourage gay actors to ever act?
And really, it's not like Sean Hayes is Dame Marlon Olivier Streep or something. He's perfectly good, but he needn't represent Every Gay Actor's Ability To Play Straight the way Setoodeh is having him do. And it's not like Promises, Promises is some searing touchstone of masculinity. There's a song called "Turkey Lurkey Time" in it, Ramin. It's going to be pretty gay no matter what.
Anyway! It's not really worth further dissecting Setoodeh's lazy, slipshod arguments, but it is curious why he decided to jump back into the gay inferno armed with nothing more than a new Promises, Promises ticket stub. I mean, it's just made everyone angry again!
Oh, wait. That's the whole stupid point, isn't it? Ugh.