Movies reap awards for pushing boundaries
Updated: 2006-01-18 09:10
Are this year's Golden Globes a watershed?
Some people, like Joe Solmonese, president of the gay-rights group Human
Rights Campaign, thinks so since six awards went to movies with gay or
transsexual central characters.
Director Ang Lee,
right, is joined by producer James Schamus, left, and co-writer Diana
Ossana, center, as they pose with the award they won for best dramatic
motion picture for 'Brokeback Mountain,' at the 63rd Annual Golden Globe
Awards on Monday, Jan. 16, 2006, in Beverly Hills, Calif.
"It was a historic night," he told The
Associated Press on Tuesday. "I think it says a lot about where we're going as a
"The more people live out and openly and honestly, the more we are simply
part of the everyday fabric of Americans' lives," he added. "I think that's what
not just the release of these movies demonstrates, but the fact that they won
the awards that they did."
But Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America, a women's group that
applies Biblical principles to public policy, maintained: "Once again, the media
elites are proving that their pet projects are more important than profit."
Crouse and some 18.7 million viewers saw approving heads nod throughout the
Beverly Hills ballroom Monday when Felicity Huffman accepted her best drama
actress award for her performance as a pre-op transsexual in "Transamerica" by
"I would like to salute the men and women who brave ostracism, alienation and
a life lived on the margins to become who they really are."
The cowboy romance "Brokeback Mountain" won four Golden Globes, including
best dramatic picture, while Philip Seymour Hoffman won best dramatic actor as
gay writer Truman Capote in "Capote" in addition to Huffman's recognition.
Still, there's been some resistance ¡ª serious and not so serious ¡ª to the
films. "Brokeback" was pulled earlier this month from a Utah theater. Comedian
Larry David, who co-created "Seinfeld" and has aligned himself with liberal
causes, wrote a humorous op-ed piece for The New York Times, averring: "I just
don't want to watch two straight men, alone on the prairie, fall in love and
kiss and hug and hold hands and whatnot ... Not that there's anything wrong with
The Golden Globes are chosen by the relatively small Hollywood Foreign Press
Association, which has about 80 members, compared with the 5,800 film
professionals eligible to vote for the Oscars.
"Brokeback Mountain" has grossed $32.1 million according to Sunday box-office
estimates; "Transamerica" has pulled in less than $1 million in limited release;
and "Capote" has made $13 million.
Those figures will likely grow after the Globes, which remain a solid
harbinger of Oscar voting. And Academy Award voters have also been receptive to
homosexual roles, most notably to Tom Hanks in 1993's "Philadelphia."
Since then, gay characters have become a far more frequent occurrence ¡ª from
Kevin Kline in 1997's "In & Out" and Robin Williams in 1996's "The
Birdcage," to the reality TV series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."
Hilary Swank won her first Oscar in 2000 for her performance as Teena
Brandon, a teenage girl who cross-dresses, posing as a boy named Brandon Teena
in "Boys Don't Cry."
Those characters' sexual orientations were central to the story, while in
"Capote" the author's is incidental to it.
"When people can be honest about their lives and their sexual orientation as
just one part of their life, then we can move past the unknown and allow people
to just be real," said Neil Giuliano, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance
Against Defamation. "I think that's what these films have significantly helped
"They're stories about real people. They're neighbors, they're co-workers,
they're friends, they're family members. That does, I think, over time translate
into advancement for equality and against the defamation we face."
Tom O'Neil, a columnist for the awards Web site TheEnvelope.com, believes
that unlike many early gay-themed films, that "Brokeback," "Capote" and
"Transamerica" are more heroic in their portrayal of gay characters.
He said that this is, in fact, a watershed moment for film ¡ª that Hollywood
is eager to help tear down any perceived remaining injustices. And if anything,
he says, the negative response has been minimal.
"It may be that what we're learning with `Brokeback' and the lack of backlash
is that this fight may have already been won," O'Neil says, "and that we may not
be giving the red states enough credit."