Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gay Rights? You think so?

I have been writing this blog all day. Reformatting it in my head, re structuring the ideas on paper all day. I was on Google on my BlackBerry looking for sources to site, and checking who said what.

Today I want to get on my soap box like Harvey Milk did. This year there was a movie made about his life. He was the first openly gay man elected to public office. The year was 1977 by the time he made it onto the board of supervisors in San Fransisco. He was murdered by a former colleague on November 27, 1978. Harvey Milk is labeled as an icon for Gay and Lesbian rights. That is the short version. For a full biography just Google him.

This year Dustin Lance Black wrote a screenplay that won him an Oscar. Black walked up on stage, took his Oscar and made a speech. His speech was very pointed speech about how he, one day, would love to get married. He ended his speech by speaking to all the gay and lesbian kids out there and told them to keep their chins up and that things will change and how we live in a great country and that one day, they too will have the same rights as everyone else in the eyes of the federal government. I thought his speech was fantastic. He did not use a list of people he had tucked away in his jacket pocket. He just spoke from the heart. Yes, he may have even practiced this speech over and over again in the mirror to make sure he said what he wanted to say. But in the end, through the choked back tears, Dustin Lance Black made the best speech in Oscar history, in my eyes.

The man who played the martyred politician was Sean Penn. Sean Penn is one of the most accomplished actors of a generation. Having been in great films such as Mystic River and Dead Man Walking, but he really hung it all out there in Milk. He was honored by the Academy and awarded with the Oscar for best actor.

Sean Penn took the stage, playing a character that was a hero among the gay community, and graciously said, "...I did not expect this...." He then started to reach down into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper with names on it. This is the number one thing that pisses me off. Actors as a whole are not humble. Look at Kate Winslet. She gave a great speech, and truly was not expecting an Oscar for her speech. She cried, and said that this was a dream come true. Humble. She did not get up on stage and take the Oscar and tell the crowd she did not expect to win, then promptly pull out a piece of paper with the list of people she wanted to thank. Be humble, accept your award and move on.

Sean Penn even had the audacity to pull out his reading glasses to read his paper. He ran through his list one by one, telling the crowd what every name meant. His best friend, Satu Masezala [spelling?] and his circle of long time support, Mera, Brian, Barry, and Bob. The list went on. Once he got through his list, he gave a great tribute to the director. The speech flowed like a river once his piece of paper was put away. He got a round of applause, and at that point he had the opportunity to leave on top. Great speech. I would even overlook the paper list of names. He should have shut up, but like most actors, he likes to hear himself talk. Sean Penn chastised the people who voted against the Proposition 8 and told them that he "hopes they sit and reflect on their decision". He went on and on, and I have watched the speech on you tube several times. It was a great speech, but then again, I thought the setting, his timing, and his intentions were not there.

There is an out pouring of support for Sean Penn. This is a well known straight man sticking up for the Gay crowd. Let me tell you why you shouldn't put your hope and dreams into this man to lead your crusades.

Sean Penn is an opportunist. He doesn't really give a crap either way if Gay's and lesbians have the right to marry. Sean Penn took advantage of a situation. He had a microphone and he decided to use it. He was getting an award for playing a Gay man, not being a gay man. He should have thanked those who he wanted to thank and moved on. No one cares about your politics. The fact that you think the world cares what you have to say is a bit egocentric. The Oscars are not the place to tell the world how you feel about a political issue. Get up there, accept your award, and shut up!

If the gay and lesbian crowds think Sean Penn really cares about them because he played their martyred son, and he got up on stage and said, shame on you Californians, then you are mistaken. If Sean Penn really cared about your cause, he would take the salary he was paid to do that movie and start the Harvey Milk College Fund. He should send Gay and Lesbian kids to college to make sure Gay and Lesbians have an equal footing in this world. If he really cared about their rights he would take every opportunity he had to start a movement in California. But Sean Penn is blaringly silent away from his soap box for now. He is an opportunistic actor who is telling us what he wants us to hear. He doesn't have any real convictions about the Gays. Sure his speech was great, but why not make that speech to the floor of the state Senate where a speech like that would really matter? Not in the Kodak Theater where no one in that room opposes his view points.


calicolyst said...

You know what? What gets me is that it's the actors people always seem to look up to, when they're not the ones who made the movies.

Yeah, Sean Penn was *in* the movie, but it wasn't his movie.

But, maybe a fan could argue "Well, maybe he chose this role because it's something he really believes in." and while that might possibly be true, who knows? I never hear actors playing villains saying "I chose to play the part of Stalin because I really believed in him." (which could happen. Actors are weird sometimes.) it's always the characters everyone likes that they claim to like, when all the characters are the same thing: a job.

Julie said...

You make a lot of really good points, this is an excellent post but, where's my quote?? J/K I agree that he shouldn't have made all the noise about "not expecting it" and then proceedes to pull a sheet of paper from his pocket. And that is the wrong stage for that kind of talk, he needs to take his "concerns" which we all know aren't really concerns of his at all to a higher authority (ie, the senate)
Good post as always.

Steve... The Master of The Universe said...

HMMM... Very much like Rock Star Obama and the black people... or hell working people for that matter... he doesn't give a shit about any of them... just another celebrity opportunist seizing the opportunity for self indulgent glory.