Roger Ebert Hub

Westboro Baptist to Picket 'Fag Enabler' Roger Ebert's Funeral

Roger Ebert gets the merit badge of honor from the Westboro Baptist Church, according to the Hollywood Reporter:

EbertIn its news release, the group calls Ebert a "f-g enabler" and complains that he used his Twitter "to mock the faithful servants of God at Westboro Baptist Church."

On March 25, Ebert did in fact tweet a link to a Salon post that features an excerpt from a book by Jeff Chu titled Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America. Chu, a gay man, spent a day at Westboro as part of his research.

Ebert tweeted the link twice, once with the message "Just another day at Westboro Baptist" and again with a similar message: "One more day at the Westboro Baptist church."

Westboro also calls Ebert a "fool sold his soul for some fame & fortune."

Roger Ebert on the 'F' Word and 'Bully'

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert writes about the rating battle over the film Bully, the power behind  the 'F' word, which appears to be the sticking point in lowering it from an 'R' to a 'PG-13', and the flawed system of the MPAA.

EbertWrites Ebert:

If a director wants to make a film against bullying, it is not for a committee of MPAA bean-counters to tell him what words he can use. Not many years ago, the word rape was not used in newspapers, on television--or in the movies, for that matter. But there is a crime, and the name of the crime is rape, and if you remove the word you help make the crime invisible.

This is yet another example of the MPAA sidestepping ethical judgments by falling back on the technicalities of its guidelines. It is even more insidious because the MPAA never clearly spells out its guidelines, leaving it to filmmakers to guess--although they often judge by past experience. It seems to me that either the f-word word is permissible, or it is not. If impermissible, nobody should use it at all in a PG-13 film. If permissible, nobody should count. Is it a magic word, a totemistic expression that dare not say its own name? Is it a vulgar equivalent of such a word as G-d?

BullyEbert predicts someone will eventually give:

The MPAA has painted itself into a corner. It will be interesting to follow this case. I suspect that the MPAA will somehow devise a way to give "Bully" a PG-13 and yet make it appear that it upholds its standards. But the fact is, unless it sticks to its R rating it has exposed the entire Code for the bean-counting it is. It will be expected again in the future to allow value judgments to affect its ratings.

In a debate after the screening, according to a later Post story, Dodd pointed out that the film could be released "unrated," and almost seemed to suggest he hopes that will happen, and let the MPAA off the hook. Harvey Weinstein, also at the screening, suggested an unrated release might be a possibility. Thus he will once again have scored one of his famous publicity coups.

Roger Ebert Weighs in on Obama, Ken Mehlman, and Gay Marriage

In a diary post, Film critic Roger Ebert writes about his history with gay people and Obama's baffling position opposing marriage equality, placing it in the context of administrations past, and his own life.

Writes Ebert, in part:

Ebert Now the idea of gay marriage is much before us. They've been made legal in some states. They are fiercely opposed, most often on religious grounds. Politicians find it prudent to play to both sides of the street by saying they "have no opposition to civil ceremonies." I'm disappointed in Obama for taking that approach. He supports the civil rights but opposes gay marriage while citing his church's teachings.

At least you can't accuse him of catering to his base. I would have preferred that he'd added that a religious marriage is a matter for each church, but that the state should make no distinction in the matter of a civil ceremony.

Some politicians are held hostage by their bases. The Bush administration is thought to have been the most homophobic in recent history. In 2004, George W. Bush endorsed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. This was backed by anti-marriage forces seeking a way to negate the actions of individual states in legalizing gay marriage.

But let's look more closely at his administration. Dick Cheney has a lesbian daughter, and a year ago he made a statement in support of same-sex marriages, adding that it should "traditionally" left up to each state. Even at the time, he declined to get on board, only observing that it was "administration policy." We learned earlier this year that Laura Bush supports the right to gay marriage. Now we learn that Ken Mehlman, head of the Republican National Committee during that time, who spearheaded the fight for the constitutional amendment, is gay.

I heard on NPR today that an interviewer for the Atlantic asked Mehlman what Bush's reaction to his news was. Mehlman replied that some days before he made his announcement, when rumors of it were circulating in GOP inner circles, George Bush reached out to him and offered help and encouragement. I was touched to learn this. Now we have to wonder: If that's the way Bush, Cheney and Mehlman thought, why was the administration's anti-gay agenda being pushed?

Was it because it seemed like a popular policy at the time? Was it playing to the party's southern evangelical base? Whatever the reasons, we now know that the word has gone out to the GOP's 2010 candidates to soft-pedal opposition to homosexuality and gay marriage. Public opinion is perceived to be shifting on the topic. It seems odd to me that on this issue, Barack Obama is more conservative than Dick Cheney, George Bush and my mother.

In the Chapel Bells are Ringing [Roger Ebert]


Towleroad - Blogged