Gay By Dawn.
There’s a stigma attached to independent film, but for once it’s a connotation that veers towards the positive rather than the negative. If the film industry were to be reduced to racial and cultural stereotypes, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be, independent film would be the Canadians of the global cineplex. They’re noble, intelligent, and untouched by filthy Hollywood lucre, a point of pride that almost overshadows how incredibly boring that entire race of bland and pretentious people are. Foreign film would be epitomized by the image of a pompous and nude French woman, incomprehensible, sagging with red wine-weight, and stinking of body odor and ripe cheese, and horror film would of course be the Basques: nasty, brutish, and descended from Neanderthals. Film snobs love to lob the term independent around like it still refers to something concrete, but the term has lost all meaning since the studio system collapsed in the 60s. In fact, I’m fairly sure film snobs are done with the word entirely, having been sickened by the late nineties switch in meaning from ‘financed outside of a major studio’ to ‘containing a section of dialogue lifted from Reservoir Dogs’. Now, the only people who use it are the publicity agents of low-budget films and the programmers at IFC who need to justify screening Requiem For A Dream twice a day with an expanded definition of the word. Independent films can be great, just as foreign films can be great, and just as Hollywood films can be great, so long as they do not feature Joaquin Phoenix. But, they can also be terrible, which is generally the case. Independent films are usually independent because the script is so bad no one wants to finance the picture except for a group of dentists looking for a tax break, not because they have something innovative to say, or anything particularly risqué. Does anyone think that Clerks was passed up because Hollywood feared a reference to snowballing? This is L.A. we’re talking about, where nothing is forgiven as quickly as sexual peccadilloes, unless you happened to crush a call girl’s bladder after penetrating her with a champagne bottle. No one would pay for Clerks because by page eighty, the script had more Star Wars quotes than punctuation, and not even Vicodin can make that any less annoying to read.
The Dying Gaul is a proudly independent film, and while it’s not terrible, it’s easy to see why it was made ‘outside’ the studio system. I put that word in quotation marks not because I am so ironic it hurts to smile, but rather because this is a movie about Hollywood, made in Hollywood, with Hollywood actors, so it’s not like it was shot in the woods of Maryland with a broken 16mm Bolex and a VHS camera. The film stars the always excellent Peter Sarsgaard, as well as Campbell Scott and Patricia Clarkson, a woman whom I always confuse with the mom on Home Improvement, and I’m always pleased to discover that I’m wrong. The reason it's independent is not because it’s breaking any new ground, though it’s capable in its own way, but rather because it features a bunch of gay sex. Hollywood is still scared of homosexuals, despite being two – thirds gay, mainly because the bulk of America not living in California or New York gets Christian talk radio on their AM dials. The film tells the story of a gay screenwriter who sells his script to a Hollywood producer, and subsequently enters into a relationship with him, while building a friendship with the producer’s wife, creating a familiar and ultimately uninteresting love pink triangle that ends in murder. What’s interesting in the film is not its daring depiction of gay sex, but rather its ultimately standard view of the gay man as a predator.
Hollywood has long sought to portray gay people as either sexual predators or comic relief, which is odd, because gay people are neither scary nor funny. They’re mainly shrill, and I can say this with great confidence because I live in a city where half the male population is homosexual, and the other half pretends to be so they can grope lesbians at gay bars. For the most part, they’re about as terrifying as an Oompa Loompa, all brightly colored and chirpy, but bolting like a scared cat at loud noises and football statistics. And that thing about the gay fashion gene is crap, unless you’re particularly fond of people who dress like British art-pop bands lathered in apple-scented body wash. The point is they’re not these creepy obsessives like in The Talented Mr. Ripley, nor fawning murder-dandies as in The Maltese Falcon. And they’re certainly not funny, as the comic relief in nearly every progressive comedy from The Birdcage on would have us believe. What we need is some sensitivity, and this is just the place to get it. I realize that films like The Dying Gaul are merely trying to present homosexuals as a regular people, who can be funny and scary just like straight folks, but it’s still such an poorly represented minority that portraying them in any sort of negative light can be misinterpreted as making a value judgment on the entire gay race, or whatever it is those devil-worshiping sodomites call themselves between blood-orgies and Steven Sondheim lyric readings. Whoa. Sorry about that. I think I accidentally flicked past The 700 Club on my way to an infomercial this morning, plus I'm still a little bitter at having to watch three hours of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy on TLC last night instead of The Ultimate Fighter. What I mean to say was that portraying a minority negatively can be dangerous, depending on who the audience will be. The red states still don’t believe that dinosaurs existed, let alone that gay men aren’t all violent pederasts. They need to be eased into an accurate representation of gay culture, where only half of the men are trying to get your children to fist them in exchange for a bowl of Fruit Loops, and films like The Dying Gaul aren’t helping. I suggest gradually integrating gay characters into pre-existing film genres, particularly macho ones like war and horror films. In fact, why not start now, by producing my two new screenplays, The Dirty Dozen Inches and Glory Hole Gore Hounds? I’m seeking independent financing. Email me.