[9 February 2010]
Crash was a more deserving Best Picture winner than Brokeback Mountain. There, I’ve said it. You can post your “you’re full of crap, traitor” responses in the Comments section.
For many in the LGBT community, Brokeback‘s loss was a sure indication of Hollywood’s homophobia. Still, it’s hard to accuse the Academy Awards of homophobia and make the accusation stick, considering it has awarded Sean Penn, Charlize Theron, Hillary Swank, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman for playing an LGBT character in recent years, and countless other performers have been nominated for taking on gay roles and several films with gay themes have received major nominations. Numerous LGBT individuals have been nominated for Oscars and won, although not in the acting categories, and they have done well at other major awards, too: Emmys, Tonys, Grammys, and critics awards, to name a few. Further, they are members of the organizations that vote on these awards. Given all that maybe, like me, people in the Academy just thought Crash was the better movie.
The beginning of the year is always declared to be “awards season”. This year, the only “gay flic” in the running for awards is A Single Man, but it’s doubtful that A Single Man will haul in the awards as last year’s “gay flic”, Milk, did. Were there an award that honored LGBT films, TV, and theater, then A Single Man might stand a chance of walking away from an awards ceremony with a nice haul. But there’s not.
This no doubt pleases some critics of Hollywood. Following last year’s Oscars, critics used Milk‘s two wins as further evidence of the degeneracy that runs rampant out there in that cesspool of degeneracy. In a cliché-ridden statement, Andrea Lafferty, Executive Director of the Traditional Values Coalition, declared that the 2009 awards illustrated Hollywood’s “slide down the slippery slope of cultural decay.” Lafferty went on to note that the Oscars snubbed Christian-themed films Prince Caspian and Fireproof, both of which, at the time of her writing, had made considerably more than Milk: “As usual, politics often trumps profit in Hollywood.” (Of course, if Academy voters nominated Christian films just for being Christian films, wouldn’t that be political?) An LGBT awards show for LGBT artists would give people like Lafferty fodder for their blogs for weeks.
There are the GLAAD Media Awards, which have categories covering film, TV, music, journalism, and theater. In the spirit of disclosure, I’ve never been nominated for one. But then, the GLAAD Media Awards don’t really honor accomplishments by members of the LGBT community. Instead, it honors straight media for being gay-friendly, sort of a “thanks for not hating us” pat on the back for members of the straight world.
GLAAD has relaxed somewhat in this area, and this year nominated three gay-helmed shows (Rachel Maddow, Ellen DeGeneres, RuPaul), and the Logo network scored a whopping four nominations. Gay mag The Advocate got two noms, while gay website “AfterElton.com” only got one. “Outsports.com” was the only other gay mag or website to receive a nomination.
In comparison, ESPN and Newsweek achieved two noms each this year. Both are among GLAAD’s preferred nominees, with Newsweek receiving a total of 13 nods over the past five years and ESPN scoring eight. GLAAD’s favorites are CNN and The New York Times, each with 17 nominations. In contrast, The Advocate has gotten a total of nine nods, with AfterElton.com, the most nominated gay site, receiving only three. Is GLAAD trying to tell us that the straight media does a better job of understanding and reporting on our lives and struggles than gay media?
The GLAAD Awards are important though, in that they reward those who stand on our side and work to create a more positive view of us. Still, given GLAAD’s bent on not honoring members of its own community, it would be reasonable to think that someone else would step in and create such an award. Latins have the ALMAs, African-Americans the NAACP Image Awards, Christians the Dove Awards, and over the years, various awards have been given to kids and animals. So, why isn’t there a serious awards show given by the LGBT community to the work of LGBT artists?
There are some awards out there for us. Take, for instance, “AfterElton.com”‘s annual Gay People’s Choice Awards, which operates pretty much like the other People’s Choice Awards. I’ve never been nominated for one of these, either, but then I’m not famous. Voters did give awards to Ellen DeGeneres, Adam Lambert, Chris Colfer, and gay-friendly girlfriend Kathy Griffin, but also gave props to Meryl Streep, Star Trek and Jersey Shores. So clearly, these aren’t awards designed to honor work of our artists.
The gay community doesn’t go completely unrewarded, however. The Web Marketing Association’s Web Awards honor the best LGBT website, which it began doing this year, while The Weblog Awards selected the best LGBT blog until this past year, when it dropped the category. In both cases, these weren’t awards selected by the LGBT community. Instead, they were just one category among many demographic-specific categories.
There are some areas of the gay community that honors its artists. First is the publishing world, which has had its own awards for 20 years. The awards are sponsored by the Publishing Triangle, a group of persons from all areas of the publishing and book worlds who are interested in promoting gay and lesbian authors. Among its previous honorees are David Sedaris’ Naked, Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, Dorothy Allison’s Bastard out of Carolina, and John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Most winners are selected by panels of expert judges, so the awards are among the few examples of the community honoring its best artists.
Less consistent than the publishing awards have been music awards. For five years, the GLAAMAs awarded LGBT artists and albums. These awards died out around 2000, and the OUTMusic Awards began in 2001. According to its website, OutMusic is “the premier 501c3 non-profit organization that is dedicated to honoring, supporting and advocating on behalf of under represented openly (LGBT) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Recording Artist & Performers.” Among this year’s winners were Musician of the Year Scott Free, Video winner Matt Alber, and Album winner Dudley Saunders. Rachel Rage was the only double honoree, winning for producing and songwriting.
Another award that honors performers in the gay community is the GayVN Awards, which honor the best in gay porn. Again, I’ve never been nominated. Of course, I look nothing like last year’s performer of the year, Logan McCree, or any other winner, and I’m far too modest, but I digress. The winners are selected by judges, who are often affiliated with gay publications, but the awards honor only films aimed at gay men. Lesbian and transgendered films are excluded, but the awards do have a bisexual film category. The categories cover a range of sexual proclivities, and even have categories that are scene specific, such as Best Oral Scene and Best Group Scene. Imagine the Academy Awards with such specific categories, for instance, Best Expository Dialogue and Best Mass Hysteria. If you thought the Oscars were long now…
Still, it’s nice that at least some actors in the LGBT community are getting recognition. Those LGBT actors who don’t work in porn have to hope that their work is noticed by the straight media and that they can get a footing in with all the others campaigning for a nomination. Although this can and has happened, wouldn’t it be nice if more members of our community could get rewarded for their hard work? It would encourage upcoming artists and recognize those who have been working on low-profile films for decades. Further, it would allow excellent work that is overlooked by other awards something to put on the DVD cover besides symbols from all the LGBT film festivals it entered.
Take, for instance, Outrage. The documentary, which explores the secret gay lives of politicians, received a 76 percent rating on RottenTomatoes, and PopMatters’ Cynthia Fuchs gave it an 8 out of 10. It also won best documentary at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Yet the film wasn’t nominated by GLAAD. The organization correctly noted that the intent of the film wasn’t to promote a positive image of the gay community, which is contrary to the awards’ purpose.
As a general rule, I’m opposed to even more awards shows. I think we should just take them all and roll them into one big awards show. That way, you don’t end up with four or five different films being able to claim they were Best Picture. Since that isn’t likely to happen, why not launch an awards to honor the work of LGBT persons in film, theater, and TV, since so many others have demographic specific awards? We can toss a couple of awards to straight actors who play gay, but keep the focus on LGBT artists. Hell, Best Gay Male in Musical Theater should be quite the catfight, while lesbian competition will be heaviest in the category Best “Used to be Straight, but Now is Gay” TV Character.
It would be great if A Single Man, Outrage, and countless other gay productions and artists got some love. Unfortunately, though, that’s all I got. Don’t ask me who should be spearheading such an endeavor or who should serve as judges. I’ll leave it to those with better minds for award sparkle and splendor. Surely, we have someone in the community who loves a good awards show and knows how to throw a heck of a party. Maybe Bruce Vilanch has some free time…
To Ted Olson, who laid out several logical and constitutionally-based arguments as to why conservatives should be supporting gay marriage and rights in his Newsweek article, “The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage: Why same-sex marriage is an American value”,18 January 2010. Formerly a W. Bush lawyer, Olson is currently arguing in court for the overturn of California’s Prop 8.