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Gay Tragedy

This is 2017.  Marriage equality is legal.  And yet we still have a media filled with Gay Tragedy, Gay Tease, and Gay Promise.

The Gay Tragedy is when a same-sex couple, usually two men, fall in love and it ends badly.  Often one of the men dies.  At minimum, the two are separated and their relationship isn't allowed to end happily.  BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is the most famous example.  When I saw that movie in the theaters, I thought it was poorly done. The characters' relationship is neither believable nor explained--they love each other because the script says so--and in the end, one of them is murdered because he's gay, leaving the survivor, who has lost his entire family as well, to weep alone in his isolated trailer.  Because, you see, two men can't have a happy, loving relationship that ends well.

TORCHWOOD does the same thing with Jack and Ianto.  Just as their relationship is deepening, Ianto is killed.  The producers said it was deliberately for tragedy, to change Jack so he could do important things later.  Yeah, sure.  But on an SF show that brings people back from the dead, they sure didn't hurry to resurrect Ianto later.  In fact, they only twist the tragedy knife by having Ianto's ghost show up and make Jack feel even worse in a later episode and make it clear that Jack and Ianto won't be together even in the afterlife.  Because gay men can't ever be happy.

Now, apparently, we're getting more of it.  CALL ME BY YOUR NAME is a gay tragedy novel ("beautifully written," says one reviewer, which is code for "uses lots of flowery, incomprehensible language to camouflage the lack of actual story").  A seventeen-year-old Italian boy meets a twenty-something American visitor in Italy.  They have a mad, tempestuous relationship in secret, but in the end, the American has to go back home.  The seventeen-year-old is unable to forget or let go, and twenty-odd years later, he goes to Boston to find his long-lost love, only to find him married (to a woman) with children.  Their love goes forever unfulfilled.

The book was made into a movie that got a lot of buzz at the Sundance Film Festival and was just recently picked up by a major distributor for wide release.  Because, you know, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, right?

Fuck you, Hollywood.  And you, too, BBC.

Apparently, the only kind of gay relationship you can show is one that ends in tragedy.  I won't go see it.  I won't buy or rent the DVD.  I will happily trash it, though.

After a thousand years of Gay Tragedy, I refuse to have anything to do with the idea until we've had a long, long history of Gay Happily Ever After.  Straight people get the HEA as a matter of course, and the tragic ending is the exception rather than the rule.  Showing Gay Tragedy after Gay Tragedy says that you think there's something wrong with LGBT people, and we're sick of it.

LATER THIS WEEK: Gay Tease and Gay Promise



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2017 01:44 pm (UTC)
Ther are a lot of gay movies with "they lived happily ever after". And there are a lot of straight love stories, where people either die or separated. Don't think this is intentional.
Jan. 9th, 2017 03:41 pm (UTC)
Which movies have gay protagonists with a happily ever after? I want to see 'em! Truly! I'm not looking at arthouse movies. We're talking mainstream, here. Ones that got actual wide distribution! I've seen a number of tiny flicks with happy endings, too, but when it comes to real movies? Hollywood overwhelmingly sends gay men to the tragedy.

Edited at 2017-01-09 03:43 pm (UTC)
Jan. 9th, 2017 03:47 pm (UTC)
Actually you're right. I have quite a lot in mind, not arthouse, mainstream. But not American ones. There are British, French, Brazilian, Italian, Israeli even Cuban, but not American.
Jan. 9th, 2017 03:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Gay HEA is more acceptable overseas than here (unless you're on the BBC).

Which ones, by the way? I'd like to see!

We do have tragic endings for straight people, but they're the exception rather than the rule. Remember how upset everyone got when THE FAULT IN OUR STARS came out? People absolutely freaked out that the love affair ends in death. 400 years after it was written, people still talk about ROMEO AND JULIET as one of the Great Tragic Love Stories. Shakespeare wrote many comedies with happy lovers, but ROMEO AND JULIET is the one everyone remembers--because it's an exception. Straights demand happy endings most of the time, and get it. But gay men? Hollywood says we're inherently flawed and tragic, and in order to tell a good story, you have to make us even MORE tragic by showing a man weeping over the death of his true love.

PHILADELPHIA. MILK. THE KISS OF THE SPIDERWOMAN. WATCHMEN. If you're gay, your love will die. We need to demand change!
Jan. 9th, 2017 04:07 pm (UTC)
Actually I did remember american ones with happy endings. They are not blockbusters, but definetely not arthouse.

This one. I usually watch it, when I have a bad mood: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0345551/

This. It's a stupid teenager comedy, but quite fun. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443431/

Jan. 9th, 2017 04:39 pm (UTC)
As for oversees. Those are my absolute favourites:

1. A Brazilian one. Story about love of two half brothers. Extremely strong movie with (SPOILERS) unexpected happy end.

2. British "Beautiful Thing".

3. Another british one. "Get Real"

4. Israeli. "Cupcakes". Stupid, but great optimistic movie.

5. Israeli."Yossi". An amazing happy end to the film "Yossi and Jagger", which Eytan Fox made 10 years ago and which was one of the saddest Israeli movies.

6. French. "Theo and Hugo". one more unxepected happy end.

7. Cuban. !!! "Viva".

Those, I can recall immediately, but I bet I saw a lot more.

And if you talk about TV Series - what about Mister Fantastic from "Arrow"
Jan. 10th, 2017 02:40 am (UTC)
Thanks! I've seen a couple of these, but most I haven't. I'll add them to my Netflix queue!
Jan. 9th, 2017 06:37 pm (UTC)
I've only seen BROKEBACK once, but wasn't so taken with the characters that I've thought to see it again. In retrospect, I think I felt the same way about it that you did, but didn't have the perspective to put words to it.

Have you seen Ang Lee's THE WEDDING BANQUET? I saw it many years ago, and thought it had a happy ending for the gay couple (though the ending may not have been quite the type of HEA you would like). While it was a joint Taiwan/US production, it is heavily influenced by the Chinese elements.
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