Periodically I use this venue to rant about one perceived grievance or another. Often these have been about person or persons ‘un-smart’ doing something mean-spirited toward nature’s bachelors. Fairness dictates that on those rare occasions when some folks within the LGBTQIA (wxyz) community lose touch with reality I step up with equal enthusiasm.
There has been buzz going around since the Oscar broadcast on Sunday that some of our little band are upset with Matthew McConaughey because he failed to mention the HIV/AIDS community in his acceptance speech. He won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club; a film in which he played a man living with AIDS.
I understand the need for visibility, for heightened awareness, to take every opportunity to educate and enlighten the public, and, of course, for political correctness, but let’s get a grip folks. OK, it would have been nice had he mentioned the health issue in his speech. He didn’t. Maybe he felt his co-star, Jared Leto, had addressed the topic sufficiently in his acceptance speech earlier in the evening. Maybe he thought his limited time was better spent thanking his mom, God, and with a long rambling testament to his own ego. Maybe he didn’t feel particularly grateful to the HIV/AIDS community. I don’t know. I didn’t love his speech and maybe I’ll do better should I ever win an Oscar. But he is under no obligation to use his limited time and that platform for someone else’s agenda. He’s an actor. As members of the ticket-buying public we are owed his best performance. The award would indicate he didn’t short-change us in that regard.
In a similar vein, some members of the transgender community are upset that Jared Leto did not talk about them in his acceptance speech when he won the Oscar for playing a transgender person living with HIV/AIDS in the same film. He spoke eloquently about HIV/AIDS, among other things, but did not single-out the transgender community by name. My response is the same as the previous paragraph. It would have been great had he done so but he had no obligation and people who are irate need to untwist their knickers and get over it.
Even more outrageous is the complaint by some in the transgender community that Leto should not have been cast in the role at all. The role should have gone to a transgender actor. All due love and respect to all my bothers and sisters in the LGBTQIA community but that is just ‘effing’ stupid. He seems to have done a pretty good job in the role, given the Oscar and all.
More importantly, are we really going down road? Felicity Huffman and Olympia Dukakis have both played transgendered people and, to the best of my knowledge, they are both genetically female. Should Cher not have been cast in Silkwood because she isn’t really a Lesbian? Should William Hurt, Matthew Broderick, and Tom Hanks not have been cast in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Torch Song Trilogy, and Philadelphia, respectively, because they aren’t gay? For that matter, should Neil Patrick Harris not have been cast in How I Met Your Mother because the character he plays is straight and he isn’t? How is that anything other than employment discrimination? How far should this madness be carried? Should Meryl Streep not have been cast in Sophie’s Choice because she isn’t really a Holocaust survivor? Should they have given Sandra Bullock’s Gravity role to an actual astronaut?
I am old enough to a recall a time when LGBTQIA actors remained closeted so they could be cast in films and straight actors refused gay roles for fear of being type-cast. High-quality, sensitive portrayals of LGBTQIA people did not exist at all. Now we have talented actors of all orientations competing to portray LGBTQIA people with honesty and sensitivity in award-wining films. Mr Leto deserves praise for a great performance.
Let’s choose our battles more wisely.