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On Sat, 9 Jul 1994, Edward R. O'Neill wrote:
 
> The comment below is fascinating.  The author both asserts that "in the
> process [the film] aligned our relationship and identification with
> gay people" etc. AND that the viewer identifies with Denzel Washington's
> phobia and the Hanks' character's loving family.  BUT THIS IS PRECISELY
> NOT IDENTIFYING WITH THE GAY CHARACTER (HANKS) BUT WITH THE STRAIGHT
> ONES.  Of course this strategy is familiar from mainstream attempts to
> represent various minorities, and it is not an entirely objectionable
> strategy, but (and I think this is what the films critics want to point
> out) this is a limited and conservative strategy.  It is the film's
> limitations which are being underlined and its strategy which is
> under discussion.  The fact that our identification is not in the main
> with the dying Hanks character only underlines the limitations of the
> film.
> --Edward R. O'Neill, UCLA
 
I really don't get it.  Larry Kramer lamblasted the film because the
characters didn't kiss enough or make love on-screen or something; others
hated Philadelphia because Hanks' family were loving and completely
accepting of him; others (on this list) thought the traditional family
"won out" in the end -- which means was allowed to exist, I guess;
and Ed thinks it's limited to identify with characters who
are heterosexual, know and love someone who is gay, or may have
misgivings and fears about homosexuality but overcome them.  Rather,
are we supposed to identify with the homosexuality in ourselves, see the
inherent evils of the father-mother-children household, and deny all
traces of the heterosexual impulse?   Would that be the "effective
strategy" to turn off the homophobia in society?
 
A most strange and counterproductive tactic, I'd say.   No, I think
The Hanks Method is much preferable, although not the magic bullet that so
many seem to expect.  (Or maybe they would just prefer to see bullets,
period.)  Philadelphia has more potential to effect change than a dozen
of the independent movies that preceded it -- from Parting Glances to
Poison.
 
PGregorySpringerschwaermerdadathepdoesnotstandforpope