Star Mag Apologizes for Sandler/James “Not Normal” Label


You may remember on Wednesday I posted about an item in Star magazine in a section entitled “Stars: Are They Normal Or Not?”, brought to my attention by blogger Matthew Rettenmund. Star had published a photo of Adam Sandler and Kevin James in a mock kiss at Shea stadium as they promoted their film I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. However, Star‘s implication by the photo and caption was that “man-to-man” kissing was “not normal”.

This morning I received an email from GLAAD, who contacted Star after reading the post.

Editor-in-Chief Candace Trunzo has issued a formal apology on behalf of the magazine.

Said Trunzo: “‘Normal/Not Normal’ is supposed to be funny, and I regret that this particular photo caption was offensive and not written in a way to make it clear that we were being humorous. The joke was that Kevin James and Adam Sandler are not gay. If the kiss was between Lance Bass and his boyfriend or any other gay celebrities it would be ‘Normal.’ Let me point out that in the same issue of STAR, we devote the entire Couples News lead to Neil Patrick Harris and his boyfriend moving in together. Now that’s normal. I sincerely apologize that our attempt at humor was perceived by some to be offensive to the gay community. That was certainly not our intent. We are proud that we support the gay community and will continue to do so.”

You may have missed…
Star Declares Chuck & Larry “Not” Normal [tr]
FDNY’s LGBT Group Says Chuck & Larry’s Journey Feels Familiar [tr]
Strange Bedfellows Director Wary of Chuck & Larry Similarities [tr]
Steve Buscemi Defends Pro-Gay Message in Chuck & Larry [tr]
GLAAD Sounds the “All Clear” for Chuck and Larry [tr]


  1. bamjaya says

    Now that was a well-written statement. She could make big bucks in damage-control publicity, I bet. She didn’t say a word that was defensive, and as a result, she cleaned it all up exactly where it needed to be cleaned without making any further mistake. This is how you back-pedal: on a dime.

  2. Leland says

    1. Thanks, Andy! That’s great news, and, as Bamjaya said, a brilliantly written statement. Given the failure of the NY Times to follow their own style book in recent stories about gays, and the F-word bombs being thrown in their offices, perhaps they could benefit from Trunzo’s perspective and she could do with a trash news shower.

    2. But the unanswered question that remains is: when is GLAAD going to apologize for promoting the movie?????????????????

  3. aidanc says

    This is what GLAAD wrote in response to my complaint:

    Thank you for your email and for expressing your concern. GLAAD has not given the film any kind of stamp of approval or endorsement, and any press to the contrary has been incorrect (yet self-perpetuating in a blogosphere universe where fact-checking takes a back seat). While we acknowledge there are offensive moments in this movie, as the first studio film ever to deal with issues of marriage equality, it is sneaking in a subtle message of acceptance to an audience who would never see a movie with gay themes. In this film’s universe, marriage and civil unions are the accepted reality (there is no debate or judgment about this issue, except to point out that the United States is ‘backwards’ because it doesn’t allow marriage while Canada does), those who are homophobic grow to a place of acceptance, and the anti-gay industry is presented as a group of ‘crazy people’.

    In fact, you may have read that the anti-gay industry is speaking out against the film because of it’s pro-gay, pro-marriage equality message, and what they are viewing as being “anti-Christian.”

    Still, it’s not a well-reviewed film, nor particularly funny. Yes, there problematic ‘moments’ in the film if taken out of context, but there is also an overall message to the movie, and there is an advantage to a film normalizing the idea of marriage equality to a group of people who wouldn’t otherwise see a film dealing with gay issues.

    Aidan, you mentioned the ACLU’s statement as being counter to GLAAD. We actually worked with the ACLU on how they could tie in their project with the film and how their 10Couples project is a companion piece to “Chuck and Larry” to provide actual stories of real-life couples. This statement exists on our website to draw people’s attention to it. The ACLU, like GLAAD, sees this as an opportunity to further the discussion about marriage equality.

    You don’t have to go far to find respected voices in the gay community who have watched the movie and are echoing this sentiment:

    Nathan Lee wrote in the Village Voice: “Tremendously savvy in its stupid way, ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’ is as eloquent as ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ and even more radical…Where the clowning queers of ‘Birdcage’ invite us to laugh at their antics, the faux-mos in Chuck and Larry disarm prejudice by unabashedly reveling in its idiotic assumptions. ‘I used to wrestle in high school,’ is the gayest thing Chuck can think of, ‘and, uh, I liked it.’ The movie isn’t effective despite the egregious gay stereotypes; it couldn’t work without them. Through the medium of an Adam Sandler comedy, with all the requisite vulgarity, we’re given access to what it feels like to be ostracized, to live under false pretenses, to suffer a sham marriage. It does with crass what ‘Brokeback’ did with class, slipping dangerous sentiments into the safest of genres.”

    Alonso Duralde wrote in AfterElton: “Despite its many flaws, Chuck and Larry will probably do more for the national debate on gay marriage than every book written by conservative gay writer Andrew Sullivan and every letter you’ve sent to your senator put together. Red-staters of every stripe who wouldn’t watch a Logo documentary on a bet might very well rush out to see this movie, based on the comic appeal of Sandler and co-star Kevin James alone….The movie’s ultimate offenses have more to do with bad writing and directing than with homophobia…If these two guys’ guys are able to see gay folks as just folks who deserve the same rights as everyone else, then just maybe the hordes of twenty-something straight boys who flock to Sandler’s movies might be able to do the same.”

    Barbara Wilcox wrote on PlanetOut/ “Gays needn’t have worried. Sandler and Co. have made the equivalent of those ’50s high-school newsreels against marijuana — except this time, the hammered-home message is ‘Real men don’t gay-bash.’… Finally, ‘I Pronounce You Chuck and Larry’ might be to gays what a real fire crew is to the rest of us: You don’t necessarily need to see it to be happy it’s out there.”

    Mike Vissichelli, President of FireFLAG/EMS, the nation’s largest LGBT firefighter employee organization said: “The ‘coming out’ process in the movie mirrors what I, and many of my colleagues, have gone through on the job. Initially we may have dealt with disbelief, disdain, and even prejudice from our fellow firefighters. The film shows the journey that gay firefighters go through in their careers, the brotherhood of firefighters, and ultimately their respect for one another based on actions and deeds…the growth of the principal characters during the course of the film is the ultimate measure of how to judge the intent and heart of the filmmakers.”

    It is difficult to tell a story about homophobia, which this is, without being offensive to prove a point. While “Chuck and Larry” is not a movie for a gay audience, it may just prove to be groundbreaking in the way it subtly moves the needle for an audience who needs it the most.

    Thank you again for your email.


    The Entertainment Team

  4. Leland says

    Thank you, Aidanc, if for nothing else, sharing proof that the Follywood ‘tards at SAAD still have their empty heads up their collective ass, as well as Fire Queen Vissichelli, Planet Out of Touch’s Barbara Wilcox, Alonso Duralde at After I Take My Pills, and Nathan Lee, the Village Idiot. His mentioning of “Chuck & Larry” positively in the same breath as “Brokeback Mountain” alone is justification to shove a fire hydrant up HIS ass.

    For those new to the discussion and possibly intoxicated by the gaseous fumes of SAAD’s spin [and misrepresentation given GLAAD entertainment media director Damon Romine’s favorable comments about the film in the “Boston Herald”], compare Kyle Buchanan’s view at the Advocate online:

    “Though Chuck and Larry begin the film as mildly homophobic, their time posing as queer is supposed to open their eyes to gay acceptance. Really, though, it’s just an excuse for the film to throw lecherous gay guys at them. While fending off one man’s advances, Larry protests that “just ’cause you’re gay doesn’t mean you’re horny for every guy you meet,” but in this film, it kind of does. Virtually without exception, the gays here are presented as sex-obsessed or as men who really want to be women. Biel’s oblivious attorney enjoys spending time with Chuck because “girls rule,” and even when another firefighter comes out for real, he’s immediately drained of all masculinity and starts to sing “I’m Every Woman” in the group shower.

    Perhaps more troubling is the uncorrected assertion—put forth even by a pension investigator and the sympathetic attorney—that one can “become” gay. Much is made of “gay lifestyles” and the fact that the city accepts Larry’s previous marriage with a blithe “So you haven’t always been gay.” The only expression of gay sexuality venerated here is in the opening scene, where Chuck tricks two straight female twins into kissing each other in front of his coworkers.”

    Dump GLAAD.

  5. db says

    The lead characters may come to see the error of their bigotry–but I think this is still a fairly homophobic (and very stupid) film. The actual gay characters in the movie are all pretty shallow and stereotypical.

  6. Leland says

    Former GLAAD director Joan Garry is, I believe, to blame for castrating GLAAD before she left, but even a broken clock is right twice a day and in this essay from today’s “Washington Blade” she identifies exactly what is wrong with the movie, and, therefore, GLAAD’s praise:

    “My 12-year old daughter Kit and I went to the movies last night. I was the only person there older than 20. And as I think about it, we were among the only females in the theater. It makes sense. After all, we were seeing an Adam Sandler movie — “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.”

    I had to see it. I was beyond curious. You see, I stood up for Sandler once. Sandler’s best friends from college fell in love and played a strong supporting role (albeit stereotypical) in the Sandler hit “Big Daddy.” I argued for its nomination for a GLAAD Media Award that year. My position was that Sandler was reaching a critical audience — pimply teenage boys — and that he deserved recognition for his choice to be inclusive.

    In that movie, Sandler was very comfortable with his gay pals. In fact, he was the voice of reason in numerous situations in which others were uncomfortable. “They just watch different porn,” he said. And after the two men kiss and another friend expresses discomfort, Sandler says matter-of-factly, “That’s what gay guys do.”

    “Chuck and Larry” is different. There is something about it that feels duplicitous and I left the theater feeling mad. Sandler has done something ingenuous. The pimply teenage boys love gay jokes. Sandler knew he would get great mileage from playing a flagrantly heterosexual homophobe surrounded by men dressed as butterflies and young sissies in tap shoes. And the weekend box office results prove it — Sandler beat “Harry Potter” this weekend — $34.8 million to $32.2 million.

    But here’s the ingenuous part. There’s a second movie hiding in there but you can only see it if you wear your special gay decoder glasses.

    THERE IS THE hilarious movie in which Sandler plays a total sexist pig who agrees to pretend to be gay to help out his friend who needs pension benefits. That film uses terms like “butt pirate” to great comic effect.

    Then there is the film you can see only with the special glasses. In this one, the premise is the same but the sexist pig is changed by the experience. He reaches a greater understanding of issues facing the gay community as well as a greater understanding of what it really means to be in a relationship. In this version of the film, there are sweet and preachy moments and you must ignore the use of words like “butt pirate.”

    In one scene, Chuck and Larry leave an AIDS benefit to find protesters waiting outside. Chuck gets called a faggot and slugs one of them. In the first movie, the one reaching the folks who drove the $34.8 million, you see Chuck’s motive clearly — that being called a faggot gives you license to slug. In the gay-friendly version, the audience sees Sandler sticking up for his “peeps.”

    The pimply teens will only remember the slow-motion, aborted kiss. They will remember that it was hilarious. With my decoder glasses, I can appreciate that they were willing to go that far (and in public no less!). The boys will remember the big African-American firefighter dancing and singing “I’m Every Woman” in the locker room shower. In my version, I pick up on that accepting look on Chuck’s face while the rest of the men look on in horror and get the “change of heart” message.

    HAVING DEFENDED SANDLER once before, my gut tells me that Chuck’s “change of heart” was always an integral part of the plot line but that message did not hit its intended target. And I hope that Sandler will use the platform he has to communicate that message more directly to the kids bringing him so much success.

    There’s a courtroom scene at the end of the film. The judge rules in Chuck and Larry’s favor and the courtroom crowd bursts into applause. There were about eight pimply teens two rows behind us. They began to cheer, too. I turned to see the looks on their faces but Kit didn’t have to. She leaned over and said, “They are not really cheering cheering.” I knew what she meant. The technical term for what they were doing rhymes with cheering. It’s called jeering.

    Nope, the boys were not cheering. And neither was I.”

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