Best Of The Web
“It is 1992. A young actor named Will Smith, already a famous rapper and sitcom star, is nervous about his first big film role, as a gay con artist in Six Degrees of Separation. It’s a part that requires him to kiss a man, so he calls his friend Denzel Washington, who tells him: “If you don’t feel comfortable about it, don’t do it.” (That’s Washington’s recollection. Less charitable reports have him telling Smith squarely: “Don’t you be kissing no man.”) In the finished film, there is no kiss – at least not in full view of the camera – and Smith later says he regrets not giving his all for fear that it would harm his career.
How times change. Now a successful heterosexual actor can swear off gay roles for an entirely different and apparently noble reason. Last weekend, Darren Criss took home a Golden Globe for his performance as the gay serial killer Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace. When he bagged an Emmy for the same part last year, he announced it would be his last gay role. Far from being homophobic, this was his attempt to open up opportunities for colleagues. Having played several LGBT characters, he was keen “to make sure I won’t be another straight boy taking a gay man’s role”.
His decision comes at a time when there is a groundswell of opinion proposing that such parts should be given only to actors who identify as LGBT. Some voices in the debate, understandably agitated by the news that Jack Whitehall has been cast as a camp gay man in Disney’s Jungle Cruise, have even used the term “gayface” to describe straight actors going gay for pay, echoing the “blackface” of Laurence Olivier in Othello or Alec Guinness in A Passage to India.”
JJ Editor's Picks
"On Christmas Eve of 1966, Paddy Roy Bates, a retired British army major, drove a small boat with an outboard motor seven miles off the coast of England into the North Sea. He had sneaked out of his house in the middle of the night, inspired..."
"The book that changed lecturer, activist, and current presidential candidate Marianne Williamson’s life, A Course in Miracles, is not available for free online, but its workbook is. You can find it on the website for the Foundation for..."
"Here are two sets of statements from far-distant opposites in the climate change debate. The first is from Naomi Klein, who in her book This Changes Everything paints a bleak picture of a global socioeconomic system gone wrong: “There is a..."
"Voters who trust their government — and each other — are more supportive of ambitious welfare states than those who do not. Across nations, high levels of social trust correlate with high levels of social spending. The relationship between these..."
"With the presidential campaign under way, expect to hear a lot more about a shiny new toy of progressive economic thinking, “modern monetary theory.” It seems to be the only intellectual contortion that might allow candidates to promise..."
"“We don’t want to fight y’all. We’re not trying to go to jail.” That’s what A$AP Rocky, the 30-year-old New York City rapper, can be heard saying in a video of an encounter with strangers in Sweden that has ballooned into an international crisis."
"Israel’s top officials are considering denying Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib entry to their country due to their outspoken, controversial criticism of Israel’s policy toward Palestinians, not to mention their slurs against American Jews as..."
"For most of our lives, we have been conditioned to share a piece of personal information without a moment’s hesitation: our phone number. We punch in our digits at the grocery store to get a member discount or at the pharmacy to pick up..."