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10 Lowlights For LGBT People and the Movies in 2013

By Toby Ashraf, Judith Dry, Peter Knegt, Matthew Hammett Knott, Sophie Smith and Erin Whitney | /Bent December 30, 2013 at 10:50AM

Two weeks ago, this column reflected on the many positive reasons that 2013 was a landmark year for queer cinema and queers in cinema. In the spirit of community, we opened things up to a half-dozen or so contributors, asking them for some of their own personal highlights in that regard. Well, as things go, for every step forward there's usually a couple steps back. So once again we asked around -- this time about some of the things folks weren't so appreciative of when it came to queers and the movies this past year.
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Ender's Game
"Ender's Game"

"Ender's Game"
Every good queerdo should have a well thumbed stack of science fiction paperbacks on their bookshelves -lovingly tucked in between Sarah Waters and Jeannette Winterson. (That's where mine are.) So I was cautiously optimistic when I heard news of an "Ender's Game" feature film due in November of this year. Based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, this outsider hero narrative served as a gateway science fiction book for many young people, queer and ... not queer. As publicity for the film began, I was shocked to learn that the author's homophobic beliefs were as vitriolic as his characters' hatred of the buggers (an intelligent alien species trying to destroy humanity.) How could the author of such a "Queer" story -- that of a weakling child genius sent to a children's military school complete with a naked shower fight scene -- be giving his Hollywood money to Focus on the Family? News that Scott Card's deal entitled him to none of the movie's profits did not deter calls for boycotting. Fortunately, the boycotters didn't miss much. The movie, like its author, was a total dud. [Judith Dry]

The GLAAD Awards Honor Brett Ratner
Bill Clinton, Steve Warren, Anderson Cooper, Adam Lambert and Brett Ratner were the five people that the GLAAD Awards decided to honor in what was clearly a benchmark year for LGBT representation in mainstream culture. Five filthy rich white dudes, two of whom are not only straight but don't exactly have perfect track records when it comes it to LGBT issues (here's hoping Frank Ocean simply declined the invitation, because I can't think of a more obvious and worthy honoree with respect to last year).  Of the five, Ratner is clearly the most disturbing choice. An "ally award" a year or so after he infamously said that "rehearsal is for fags" during a Q&A for his film "Tower Heist," a comment that in part led to his resignation as producer of the Academy Awards? Ratner explained during his speech that he has since learned a "valuable lesson": "A word can matter. Whether its said with malice or as a joke. And being insulted for using the word cannot compare to the experience of any young gay man or woman who has been the target of offensive slurs of derogatory comments." Well, I'm certainly glad Mr. Ratner figured that out. And though he seems to at least appear devoted actions to his words (he's been working with GLAAD to produce and direct pro-marriage equality PSAs), to give him an award for that is ridiculous. Especially in this day and age of film careers crumbling because of these sorts of comments and "making good examples of yourself" often smelling like strategic damage control. [Peter Knegt]

"I'm So Excited"
"I'm So Excited"

"I'm So Excited"
Quo Vadis, Pedro? "I’m So Excited" is still one of those films were I secretly think and hope that someone else other than Pedro Almodóvar directed it. College humour meets gay stereotypes meets a story that left me the most unexcited I have ever been watching an Almodóvar film. Going from punk rebel and church critic to camp master to brilliant queer story teller, the director left the world bewildered with his latest work. For a moment, the alcohol and drug-addicted party flight attendants are bearable in the name of irony but as this bad joke enfolds, you can’t help but feel that this is the most homophobic and superfluous film you have seen in a long time. It also raises the question of who is supposed to laugh about that – queens with low self-esteem or homophobic art house lovers? I love you, Pedro, but you should keep your hands off comedy, unless you get your Pepi, Luci, Bom and Other Girls Like Mom groove back. [Toby Ashraf]

Jared Leto's Character In "Dallas Buyers Club"
Back in September, I devoted an edition of this column to a rather aggressive trashing of "Dallas Buyers Club" after seeing it at its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. And I'll admit I was a caught a little offguard by how few people seemed the agree with me once reactions started coming in. "Dallas" ended up with pretty glowing reviews, and is now on track for Oscar nominations for stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto (with the latter probably even winning). My mind a bit boggled, I went and saw the film again, wondering if I'd simply gone into it with a preordained opinion. But I honestly felt the same way the second time around. I could go on and on, but I already did. The one thing I would like to reiterate, though (and spoiler alert ahead -- though its hardly a surprise in the film), is the portrayal of its only LGBT character, Leto's Rayon (who unlike McConaughey's Ron Woodroof, is completely fictional -- so there's no excuses of "well, she was a real person"). Largely an issue of the film's simplistic screenplay (which really seems to be written by people that have very little perspective on the history of AIDS), Rayon rarely extends beyond caricature. We never find out much about her beyond her relationship to Woodroof, and though she has a boyfriend that is present in many of the film's scenes, we never even find out his name. And while the film consistently lionizes Woodroof without really giving us a reason to feel like he deserves it, Rayon is continuously victimized (a Hollywood tradition for queer characters), largely through her inability to overcome a drug addiction that eventually leads to her death (the screenplay even gives Leto the line "I don't want to die!" to hysterically mumble in its final scenes -- which god help us will probably be the scene the Oscars play before Leto wins one). Woodroof is clearly a drug addict too (not to mention an alcoholic and a sex addict), and also struggles with overcoming it. But "Dallas Buyers" portrays his struggle with much less judgement than Rayon's, and ultimately blames her death on her drug addiction.  This isn't really Leto's fault, but for him to win an Oscar for it just encourages this kind of representation to continue (which it probably will either way). [Peter Knegt]