The Normal Heart Hub




Hollywood's Overrepresentation of White, Gay Men

Normal_a

Television shows and movies like Looking, and Dallas Buyers Club are increasingly bringing LGBT stories to the big and small screens, but their representations of diversity within the queer community are sorely lacking. White, gay, male characters are grossly overrepresented, according to a Vox analysis of a number of recent shows and films focusing on gay narratives. The issue, write Alex Abad-Santos, is not with the specific stories that are depicted, but rather with the meta-narrative created by an unchanging stream of stories solely about white guys:

“We don't and shouldn't expect anyone to change Harvey Milk's race or change who Larry Kramer's friends were. Kramer's and Milk's experiences aren't in our control. However, choosing which stories to tell is. And having a willingness to tell other kinds of stories, perhaps some that are just as worthy as Milk's or Kramer's, from places we're not necessarily looking, is something filmmakers and writers can do better.”

Gary Gates, an LGBT demographer at UCLA, says that statistically speaking the kinds of LGBT groups being portrayed in modern media simply don’t reflect reality. In addition to nearly half of the characters being non-white “if you had a show with a cast of 20 characters who were LGBT, two-thirds of the women would be bisexual, and one-third of the women would be lesbians, while two-thirds of the men would be gay, and one-third would be bi.”

Gates goes on to point out the disproportionate amount of screen-time given to characters that read as being affluent. The persistent idea that all LGBT individuals are more economically successful than their heterosexual counterparts is due in large part to to a conflation of statistical findings. College graduated, same-sex couples, with two partners actively participating in the workforce do, on average, make more than heterosexuals, Gates explained in 2013 to US News. These couples make statistical headlines because they are exceptional, however, and portraying them as The New Normal is disingenuous at best and problematic at worst.

The-new-normal-utah-new-home__oPtIn terms of movies and documentaries like The Normal Heart and How To Survive A Plague, filmmakers are presented with the task of parsing through the historical record in order to suss out compelling stories. Problems arise when the cinematic truth depicted on screen only reflect the limited perspectives of certain characters. In an interview with Vulture Sarah Schulman, co-creator of The ACT UP Oral History Project, recently voiced her misgivings about what she perceived as a whitewashing of early HIV/AIDS activism as depicted in How To Survive A Plague.

We call it “The Five White People Who Saved the World” — that’s our nickname for it. And those white people are very busy because apparently they’re always saving everything all the time. Everywhere you go, you see them.

Referring to a discussion following screenings of Jim Hubbard’s United in Anger: A History of ACT UP and David France’s How To Survive a Plague, Schulman recalls that same point blank critique.

At one point they open up for questions and the first question to David is: Why do you have no women or people of color in the film? And he says, well I wanted to focus on wealthy white men because they had the time to devote to activism. Now as a person who has interviewed 168 surviving members of ACT UP New York, I can tell you that’s not historically correct.

People in ACT UP gave their entire lives to ACT UP. All different kinds of people from every class and background would report in our interviews that they were at ACT UP five nights a week, that their entire life was ACT UP. And that had nothing to do with how much money you had. And the second thing he said was that these men went to good universities and so they were able to understand the science. That is absurd. The audience almost started laughing. One of the best experts on the science of AIDS in ACT UP was Garance Franke-Ruta who was 19. We all sat there and realized that this man knows nothing about ACT UP.

Watch a video of the exchange AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Hollywood's Overrepresentation of White, Gay Men" »


President Obama Called Ryan Murphy After Watching 'The Normal Heart'

Normalheart

President Obama called Ryan Murphy on Monday to tell him he "loved" The Normal Heart and "found it incredibly moving" according to Deadline.

Obama reportedly asked how the movie came together, and Murphy told Deadline: “The whole movie is about Larry trying to get the attention of Washington and 30 years later, to get a call from the President is a full-circle moment.”


Taylor Kitsch Describes Intense 'Normal Heart' Shoots with Mark Ruffalo: LISTEN

Kitsch

Taylor Kitsch--the former Friday Night Lights heartthrob who burned up the screen to different, more tragic effect in HBO's recent film adaptation of The Normal Heart--appeared on Michelangelo Signorile's SiriusXM Progress to discuss the intensity of the filming process and his character, Bruce Niles.

In the film Niles, a mostly-closeted lawyer, is elected the first president of the Gay Men's Health Crisis, much to Ned's (Mark Ruffalo) chagrin. Kitsch talked at length about his scenes with Ruffalo and the intensity of their arguments.

HuffPost reports:

"I have a lot of intense scenes with Ruffalo in which he’s literally trying to make me come out on camera — which is devastating to Bruce. So in between takes we’d be like, ‘You know what, we no doubt have the same goal here, but our approach is incredibly different.’...There’s takes where both of us are crying just standing there. And then there’s takes where, just, I couldn’t be angrier. It was an incredible process to go through with Ruffalo."

Though Kitsch may have relished some scenes, he also commented on the emotionally draining difficulty of others, such as a memorable moment when he is forced to put his dead lover into trash bags and take him out back to a hospital alley.

“I think it kind of encompasses that insecurity in what people do or how they react to fear of the unknown,” he said, referring to a time of heightened media hysteria around AIDS. “And that happened, which is even scarier. Paying someone to put them in a garbage bag. It’s so inhumane on so many levels. It was just — that was the one scene I just wasn’t a big fan of doing a lot of takes of. And [director Ryan Murphy] knew that as well. And yeah, we didn’t do a lot of takes. We didn’t need many. It was something you kind of try to forget that is just scarred in your memory.”

Of course, many who are praising the film, including our own Nathaniel Rogers, appreciate it precisely because of unforgettable scenes like these. It has brought the visceral realities of the HIV/AIDS epidemic into the modern moment. 

You can still check out The Normal Heart on HBO GO

And listen to Kitsch discuss the film, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Taylor Kitsch Describes Intense 'Normal Heart' Shoots with Mark Ruffalo: LISTEN" »


Matt Bomer Talks 'Normal Heart' with Ellen, Gets Some 'Magic Mike' Stripper Duds: VIDEO

Bomer

Matt Bomer joined Ellen for the season finale of her daytime show and of course talked about his transformative role in the HBO adaptation of The Normal Heart. Bomer talks about how much weight he lost for the film, and what it was like on the set the day that DOMA was struck down, along with other behind-the-scenes details.

He also talks about Magic Mike 2, which is a road trip film in which the men are heading to a stripper convention. Ellen, of course, has some stripper outfit options for Bomer to try out.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

 He also announces that he's now on Twitter.

Continue reading "Matt Bomer Talks 'Normal Heart' with Ellen, Gets Some 'Magic Mike' Stripper Duds: VIDEO" »


Mark Ruffalo and Matt Bomer: PHOTO

Bomer_ruffalo

A stunning portrait of the 'Normal Heart' couple by Robert Maxwell for 'W' magazine. Click to enlarge.


Larry Kramer Warns Jane Pauley of AIDS Crisis in 1983 'Today' Show Interview: VIDEO

Pauley_kramer

Those of you who caught last night's premiere of The Normal Heart on HBO will want to watch this 1983 interview Larry Kramer did on the Today show with Jane Pauley during the earliest days of the crisis.

The world clearly, tragically, had no idea what was coming.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

What did you think about The Normal Heart?

Deadline reports on the film's ratings:

HBO Films‘ The Normal Heart delivered a solid 1.4 million viewers across two plays Sunday night. Debuting nearly three decades after Larry Kramer’s play premiered off-Broadway, the Ryan Murphy-directed project premiered at 9 PM with an average of slightly less than 1 million viewers tuned in; an additional 434,000 thousand watched at 11:15 PM. That puts it fifth in viewership among the 17 HBO Films that have premiered on the network since 2010.

Continue reading "Larry Kramer Warns Jane Pauley of AIDS Crisis in 1983 'Today' Show Interview: VIDEO" »


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged