Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Interview: Gay Panic vs. Nuclear Annihilation

 First off, let me just say how affirming it was to sit in a movie theater with my fellow New Yorkers to watch The Interview. Normally, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see an adolescent comedy about a plot to kill the leader of North Korea, but I was so pissed off at the idea of a foreign dictator telling me what I can or can’t see that I was like, “You know something? Fuck you, North Korea! I’m going to see this!”
And, no, that police command station assembled one block from the movie theater did not make me nervous at all.
Now, to the movie itself.
Much has been made over the fact that The Interview may be the first movie to depict the death (albeit humorously rendered) of a sitting head of state. (And a psychotic head of state with nuclear weapons, to boot.) Less has been made over the fact that The Interview is, essentially, a 90-minute riff on what I call “gay panic.” That is, the discomfort many heterosexual men feel at the idea that they may be (or be perceived), in the slightest way, homosexual, and the fact that, for many heterosexual men, this is the worst thing you could possibly be.
As a gay man, sitting in a movie theater with (I would assume), mostly heterosexual men laughing at one of my defining traits as a human being, could make one, how shall I say, uncomfortable.
The oddity of this spectacle is further compounded by the fact that it is being portrayed by an actor, James Franco, who has made something of a career lately out of playing gay men (Allen Ginsberg, Hart Crane, a fake documentary about the movie Cruising). And, of course, need it be said? James Franco is ridiculously handsome.
So, imagine a movie in which James Franco and his polar opposite in the looks department, Seth Rogen, do everything but have intercourse onscreen (and do, in fact, kiss each other, say they love each other, drink fancy cocktails with umbrellas in them and—horrors—listen to Katy Perry music).
Indeed, the amount of phony homosexuality on display is ratcheted up so high that you have to laugh—and that, I suppose, is the point.
There’s also a cameo at the beginning of the movie by Eminem where he “admits” to being gay during an interview on a tabloid TV show. So is Eminem making fun of gays or poking fun at his image as a homophobic rapper? Truth be told, I can’t even remember why he is allegedly homophobic (I don’t really listen to rap music) and, besides, didn’t he already silence those complaints when he performed with Elton John on the Grammy Awards?
Then again, I suppose if we’re going to go down that road, an equal if not larger grievance could be voiced by Asians (or at least North Koreans), for being portrayed as the world’s laughing stock. Or women, for being portrayed as sex objects whose only reason for existence is to please men.
The fact is, that if one can suspend one’s inner PC police, the movie is actually quite funny. And, by employing more Asian actors than pretty much every other Hollywood movie put together and showing them poking fun at themselves, it has the ironic effect of humanizing them.
Now if only Seth Rogen and James Franco would just fuck each other and get it over with.

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