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Sony Chairman Amy Pascal Addresses Hollywood's Depiction of Gay Characters: "We Can Do Better. We Have To."

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood March 26, 2013 at 1:24PM

As the Supreme Court hears merits and demerits today of the Proposition 8 gay marriage ban, a full transcript of Sony chairman Amy Pascal's remarks at the March 21 fundraiser gala for the LA Gay and Lesbian Center has been released to the Huffington Post. In her speech, Pascal specifically addresses Hollywood's depiction of gay characters, and the progress that still needs to be made: "I'm talking about kids who are gay and I'm talking about kids who aren't gay. One group needs affirmation and the other group needs education. And, if I'm being honest, neither of those issues are high on any movie studio or TV network's agenda."
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Amy Pascal
Amy Pascal

As the Supreme Court hears merits and demerits today of the Proposition 8 gay marriage ban, a full transcript of Sony chairman Amy Pascal's remarks at the March 21 fundraiser gala for the LA Gay and Lesbian Center has been released to the Huffington Post. In her speech, Pascal specifically addresses Hollywood's depiction of gay characters, and the progress that still needs to be made: "I'm talking about kids who are gay and I'm talking about kids who aren't gay. One group needs affirmation and the other group needs education. And, if I'm being honest, neither of those issues are high on any movie studio or TV network's agenda." Highlights below.

On the difference "between being gay and other minorities":

The other day, a good friend of mine told me the difference between being gay and other minorities is that you're alone in your own family. If you're a black kid and someone calls you the N word at school, your family is there to comfort you. They know how you feel. They have probably had the same experience. Not true when you're gay. You are truly alone. So I've been wondering how helpful we've been.

On a central plot point found in many films with gay characters:

Proposition 8

Brokeback Mountain, Milk, Boys Don't Cry, Philadelphia, The Hours, Gods and Monsters, The Talented Mr. Ripley, A Single Man, My Own Private Idaho, Cloud Atlas -- in all these movies, the main character is murdered or martyred or commits suicide or just dies unhappily. And there are far more pernicious and dangerous images that confront gay kids and their parents: the lesbian murderer, the psychotic transvestite, the queen who is humiliated and sometimes tossed off a ship or a ledge. It's a big joke. It still happens.

On "ParaNorman," and a character's gayness as incidental to a film's plot:


And real credit has to be given to the filmmakers of ParaNorman, Chris Butler and Sam Fell, who had the first gay character in an animated movie, and he was the football hunk and it was totally incidental to the plot.

Now it's time for all of us to take that step. Not every gay character needs to be defined by his or her sexuality. Can't being gay just be one stitch in the fabric of someone's life?

On Hollywood's insensitivity:


Hollywood sometimes beats its breast a little too much. We should take pride in what we have accomplished. A lot!

On the other hand, go to Google and look up Hollywood's depiction of gay characters. We still have a long, long way to go. We all make mistakes -- I make them all the time -- but the mistakes aren't based on malice or bigotry, believe me. We can be blamed for thoughtlessness, or the rush of starting a movie, but basically, it's really just insensitivity.

Hollywood is rising up to support gay marriage. To that end, some public figures are changing their Facebook profile pics in honor of marriage equality to a red version of the Human Rights Campaign’s logo.  A few are listed below.


This article is related to: Sony, News, News, Amy Pascal


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.