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Cruising (1980)

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Re: Cruising (1980)
Added by Bill King   on 2004-05-02 17:11:51

I'm amazed that gays looked down on this movie because they said it makes them look bad. Straight people don't complain about movies that make them look bad. Good example: "8MM"

"8MM" is wall-to-wall with heterosexual degradation. I don't recall any protests against the movie, which, by the way, I think is one of the best films of 1999.

Re: Cruising (1980)
Added by Jake Cremins   on 2004-05-04 18:36:11

Not so amazing, really. If we still live in a time, fourteen years after this film came out, where it's still up to debate as to whether gay couples can get married (and where it was *just* decided that it's not illegal for them to have sex!), imagine something like 'Cruising' being released nationwide in 1980. The most positive gay characters were the ones who merely went to bars and parks and slept with strangers nightly; the worst, vicious murderers. For a movie structured as though it's showing us what gay life was really like (and never mind that disclaimer; the whole movie is structured like an exposť), this is bad news.

'8MM,' despite plumbing similar depths, took the time to establish that there were plenty of normal folks like the main character, with a wife and baby back home. The last thing that movie would have wanted to say, I'm sure, is that all straight people moonlight as snuff filmmakers. But where's that distinction in 'Cruising?'

Re: Cruising (1980)
Added by Bill King   on 2004-05-04 22:05:49

Good point about "8MM," but 99 out of 100 movies feature hetero bad guys. In 1992, "Basic Instinct" encounted similar protests, and that's more recent. I watched with interest the documentary on the new DVD special edition, with the gays being interviewed not liking the plot. Of course, not one of them complained of the straight people getting killed in the movie, or that Michael Douglas' straight character was pretty corrupt in his own way. It's just a strange double standard that I've witnessed.

I did like your review, and I won't be renting "Cruising" anytime soon. (I might eventually, only because I'm trying to see as many movies as possible.)

Re: Cruising (1980)
Added by Jake Cremins   on 2004-05-05 03:14:04

I do think that gay groups, like any that go through the trouble of picketing movies, tend to go overboard: 'Basic Instinct' was so completely lurid and over-the-top in every way that it would have been a disappointment for Sharon Stone's character *not* to be bisexual, since she was already everything else. And protests about 'The Silence of the Lambs' were ridiculous, I thought, since most of the details were taken from an actual case and it was also made clear (well, more clear in the book) that the killer was not actually transsexual but merely deluded.

I think the double standard you refer to, though, has to do with it being a sensitive time right now ("right now" stretching back at least twenty-five years or so and ending who knows when) for gays, lesbians, and everyone else not strictly heterosexual, with all kinds of basic human rights hanging in the balance, and there's this urge to complain about anything that "hurts the cause." In most cases protests about movies don't give much credit to the intelligence of the average viewer, but believe me when I say that 'Cruising' is pretty hurtful stuff.

I would definitely recommend renting it if only to gape in disbelief (truly, no one makes a bad movie like a talented director can), and also to see it along with 'The Celluloid Closet,' a great documentary about the history of gay characters in the movies ('Cruising' gets a special section there, as you can imagine). It covers all of these issues and more, and it's also more genuinely entertaining than most fiction films I've seen this week.

Re: Cruising (1980)
Added by Jake Cremins   on 2004-05-05 03:41:14

Also (Christ I'm wordy--last post, I promise), I think it's that if a character in a movie is gay, there's usually a motive behind it. I mean, you see a guy in a movie and you're going to assume he's straight unless an effort is made to tell you otherwise. And, unfortunately I think, the effort is usually there because the gay character will either be a) psychologically damaged, b) utterly sexless and there to be the female lead's kooky best friend, or c) an endless supply of "gay issues." There's always some kind of *reason;* rare is the movie that has a gay character just because there are gay people around and you'd have a decent chance of running into one ('Wonder Boys' and, oddly enough, 'Bride of Chucky' are the only two that pop into my head right now).

So when there are gay serial killers, nymphomaniacs, fetish-laden weirdos, etc. there's always the suspicion that the filmmakers are trying to say something about gay people as a whole. Though I doubt this happens a lot today, it wasn't long ago that that would always be true (again, see 'The Celluloid Closet'--it's mind-boggling). By this point, I myself am more tired of movies that have the "sexless kooky friend" type, as well as the type that has no interest, motivation or dialogue that doesn't have to do their own homosexuality, and is usually still sexless anyway. It's annoying seeing any character reduced to a single component part.

Re: Cruising (1980)
Added by Bill King   on 2004-05-05 10:58:59

Good conversation. I'd also add "Big Daddy" to that list. I've liked some gay-themed movies, like "Trick" and "Chasing Amy." There are bad ones too, like "Relax...It's Just Sex," "Totally F***ed Up" and "In & Out."

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